If you recently decided to make your dream of owning a farm come true, then it is vital that you know how to prevent fires caused by spontaneous combustion of hay and silage. When organic materials begin to break down, they give off heat that can cause your silage and hay to ignite and burn. By understanding the issue, you can take simple steps to prevent agricultural fires from happening on your farm.
Spontaneous Combustion of Hay Bales
The risk associated with spontaneous combustion of baled hay is determined by the amount of moisture contained within the hay when it is formed into bales. Hay that contains 22% moisture or more is a potential fire hazard. While all hay will heat internally as it dries from the natural fermentation process, hay that is very high in moisture will get hot enough that it can form flammable gases inside of the bales that can catch on fire.
Fire Suppression for Hay Bales
To prevent hay bale or haystack fires, you should always monitor your newly stacked hay for signs of excessive heat, including:
- musty odors
Any hay that has been baled within the last six weeks should be monitored each day for signs of too much heat. If the hay is getting too warm for you to touch with your bare hand, then you need to break the bales apart and allow the hay to dry in small piles.
Additionally, you should also ensure that you have an ample amount of fire extinguishers on your farm. A fire extinguisher from a company like Echo Fire Protection should always be available in your hay storage area in case it is needed to put out a hay bale fire.
Spontaneous Combustion of Silage
When you are storing silage for your farm, it is more flammable when it is too dry rather than too wet like hay. Dry silage contains more air by volume and this provides oxygen that is needed to start a fire. Combine this excess oxygen with heat generated by the breakdown of the organic materials and you have the right scenario for a spontaneous fire.
Fire Suppression for Silage
To help prevent spontaneous combustion of silage on your farm, you should never store fresh wet silage on the top of dry silage. The wet silage will trap the excess air in the lower dry silage and can cause a fire when the silage above heats from the natural fermentation process.
You should check the temperature of your silage every day for the first three weeks it is in the silo or in piles. Once three weeks have passed, the risk of fire is much less because there will not be as much heat generated from fermentation.
In addition, you should have fire extinguishers available at the ready near your silage storage for emergencies. You may also want to opt to have a fire suppression system installed inside of your silo.
If you have any additional questions about farm fire safety, then you should contact a local supplier of agricultural safety equipment for assistance.