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Over 300 pigs, along with farming machinery, were destroyed when a recent fire swept through farm buildings on an East Yorkshire farm. The fire was caused when over 250 tons of straw bales were deliberately set alight.

Humberside Police and Humberside Fire and Rescue Service are now offering farmers key crime prevention and fire safety advice to help reduce the risk of arson.

Steve Duffield, Community Safety Manager at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is not an isolated incident at this time of year. As hay is harvested and straw stored, we urge farmers across the region take steps to ensure straw is stored safety to reduce the risk of deliberate fires.”

Julie Turrell, Rural Crime Officer, Humberside Police said, “Why someone would deliberately set fire to a store of straw is difficult to comprehend. Taking precautions to prevent such incidents is one of the key factors in avoiding becoming a victim of such a crime.”

Whilst arson attacks on farms and small holdings may be difficult to eliminate, a number of simple precautions can substantially reduce the risk of attack:

• Ensure the site where bales are stored is as secure as possible
• Hay and straw should be removed from fields as soon as possible after harvesting, stored away from other buildings, in stacks of reasonable size, spaced at least 10 metres apart.
• Store away from livestock
• Petrol, diesel and other fuels should be stored in secure areas; storage tank outlets should be padlocked. Fertilisers and pesticides should be kept under lock and key.
• Rubbish should be disposed of safely and on a regular basis.
• Electrical safety checks should be carried out and firefighting equipment should be check frequently.
• Prepare a fire routine and action plan to ensure all farm workers know what to do in the event of a fire.
• Ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished in an appropriate container.
• Where possible, regularly check and maintain open water supplies for firefighting.

If a fire does break out:

• Call the Fire and Rescue Service without delay.
• If possible, send someone to the farm entrance to direct the Fire and Rescue Service to the fire to help save time.
• Prepare to evacuate livestock should the fire spread.
• Prepare to use farm machinery to assist the Fire and Rescue Service.