An increase in barn fires has led Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service to issue fire safety reminders.

Each year in the UK on average around 1,600 farm buildings and 85,000 areas of grassland are destroyed by fire. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s (MAWWFRS) said the recent increase in barn fires could be partly due to the early warm and dry weather conditions during May and June, which has provided earlier hay-making opportunities.

They offered the following hay and straw storage advice, relevant to equestrians as well as the farming community, to help prevent further incidents:

  • Where possible, stacks should be sited separately, away from other buildings, especially where livestock are housed. Keep stacks to a reasonable size, well apart and dry.
  • Ensure that all electrical equipment and wiring is well-maintained.
  • Avoid storing fertilisers, chemicals, gas cylinders, tractors and other machinery in barns containing bales.

Signs of bales overheating may include discolouration or browning in some areas, stacks seen to be ‘steaming’ early in the morning or late evening, the presence of a sweet, sickly smell and hay turning to a tobacco-like form. They advised that if bales are smouldering or on fire, 999 should be called immediately.

For those making hay and in the farming industry, they offered the following guidance:

  • Stored bales must not have a moisture content greater than 22%. Bales that have a moisture content of 22% or higher pose a risk of increasing in heat once stacked, leading to overheating and possible spontaneous combustion.
  • Baled hay, straw and bracken should have a moisture content of between 18-20% before being stacked in storage.
  • The temperature of bales should be below 35°C before being brought off the field for storage. Bales with a temperature above 35°C can maintain their own heat generation to a point where spontaneous combustion can occur.

The service’s Farm Liaison Officer, Jeremy Turner, can be contacted on 0800 169 1234 or via

Images by MAWWFRS of incidents the crews have attended

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