Annual cost of farm fires approaches £100m as arson costs almost double

Insurance company NFU Mutual is urging farmers to take precautions and have fire control plans in place, as the cost of farm fires reached £95.6m in 2021.

Electrical faults were the biggest known cause of blazes last year, and the costs of large-scale farm arson attacks almost doubled from £4.7m in 2020 to £8.4m in 2021.

FarmFires-InsurancePrevention-22Biomass boiler fires also continued to increase last year and as many installations begin to age, farmers are being urged to carry out regular maintenance checks.

Andy Manson, Head of Risk Management Services at NFU Mutual, said that farm fires put lives at risk and cause disruptive and devastating damage to farm businesses.

“To help protect their businesses, farmers should put fire prevention and control plans in place, such as regularly reviewing their fire risk assessment and acting on the findings.

“Most fires are preventable by carrying out routine maintenance and inspection on heating systems, electrical installations and machinery, and controlling hot works within farm workshops.

“Implementing and maintaining good standards of housekeeping – particularly around the storage of combustibles and flammables such as hay, straw and fuels – will also reduce the risk of a fire spreading.”

NFU mutual has five safety tips to help farmers mitigate the risks of fire:

If a fire does break out, farmers are told to call the fire and rescue service immediately and evacuate everyone to a safe location, as in the emergency plan. They should only fight the fire if it is safe to do so and using the correct, maintained extinguishers. If the fire spreads they should prepare to evacuate livestock if it is safe to do so, and use farm machinery to help the fire and rescue service, but only on their instruction.

Farmers should ensure they can direct the emergency services to the exact location of the fire by, for example, downloading the what3words app which pinpoints specific 3 by 3 metre locations. They should send someone to meet and direct the fire and rescue service to the fire, and ensure that the farm entrance is clearly signed and access is kept clear to allow entry to the fire and rescue service.

“We are very concerned about the rising cost of arson attacks, which is a frightening prospect considering farms are not only farmers’ place of work but often their family home,” said Hannah Binns, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist. “We are urging everyone to be on their guard and improve their security to help prevent their business going up in smoke.”

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