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Preventing Wildfires on the Farm and Ranch




For Immediate Release: June 12, 2017
Media Contact: Jeni Lawver, 605.381.7232


Preventing Wildfires on the Farm and Ranch


RAPID CITY, S.D. – Because of dry conditions across much of the state, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Wildland Fire Division (SDWF) urges farmers and ranchers to be prepared in case a wildfire starts while they are baling.


“Fire safety in the field has two key components -- prevention and preparation in case a fire does break out," said division director Jay Esperance. "Both are important and can mean the difference between disaster and controlling the situation for minimum of damage or work stoppage." (***Download fire audio here***)


SDWF shares these fire safety reminders:
• All machinery should contain an approved fire extinguisher of adequate size that is easily accessible. There are two types of extinguishers, the powder extinguisher for electrical and petroleum based fires and the water extinguisher for vegetative fires. You may need to carry both kinds of extinguishers.
• Store hay away from combustibles such as gasoline, fertilizers and pesticides, as well as open burning areas like burn barrels, brush piles and vegetative burning.
• Leave 30 feet of mowed grass, bare ground or rock between the bale groups, creating a solid fire break.
• When cutting hay in open pastures, make sure the sickle bar or cutting discs are set above any protruding rocks. Sparks from the impact of the metal hitting rocks while cutting hay in pastures or road ditches start wildland fires every year in South Dakota.


If a fire occurs:
• Remain calm and call 911 immediately. Provide clear, concise directions to your location. Many field and bin sites do not have 911 addresses, so be prepared to identify an intersection or landmark to help responders find the exact location.
• To help control field fires until firefighters arrive, quickly disk a fire break approximately 15 feet wide around the fire.
• To assist with a structural fire, make sure there are no flammable objects nearby and if the circuit panel is safely accessible turn off the building's electricity. If time allows, evacuate any livestock. Also, if possible spray high-pressure water on any surrounding vegetation or structures, discouraging spreading embers. Do not take risks.
• After using any equipment to fight a fire, look it over thoroughly for any embers that may start the equipment on fire.


South Dakota Wildland Fire can be found on Twitter @SDWildlandFire and on Facebook by searching SD Wildland Fire.


Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's mission is to promote, protect and preserve this industry for today and tomorrow. Visit SDDA online at http://sdda.sd.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter. SD Ag Chat podcasts can be found in the Ag News section at http://sdda.sd.gov/news. You may subscribe, free of charge, through Google Play Music, iTunes or from https://sdagchat.podbean.com/.




***EDITOR’S NOTE: This release contains a link to audio***