In the aftermath of five farmland fires which took place in Wexford on Thursday 11 August, Ray Murphy from Wexford Fire Services has outlined some steps farmers can take to mitigate these fires.

Taking into account details of the weather and any fire warnings is very important, Murphy said.

"Farmers are harvesting the field because the moisture has dropped to a certain level, but this is also a perfect condition for combustion," he said.

Regular checks and maintenance of machinery is extremely important during periods of fire warnings and hot weather, he added.

"The fire is starting at the machine. They should carry an adequate amount of fire extinguishers on board, so they can stop the fire at the machine," he said.

10 steps outlined by Wexford Fire Services

  • 1. Take account of up-to-date weather advice, in particular the recent heatwave and associated weather warning.
  • 2. The dryness of the standing grain and straw must be considered, as it is very combustible.
  • 3. All machinery must be properly serviced and care taken to ensure no oil leaks and loose materials on the machines. Carry out a thorough pre-use inspection.
  • 4. Machinery must be cleared of chaff and straw before use, as build-up of these materials is a considerable fire hazard.
  • 5. Machine belts and pulleys must be in good condition.
  • 6. Machines need to be checked regularly during use for overheating and adequate fire extinguishers should be quickly available.
  • 7. Have slurry tanks or water tankers on hand for damping down small fires should they start. Ditches can also be dampened down to protect neighbouring fields and property.
  • 8. A plough or harrow can make a fire-break around a field to stop further fire spread.
  • 9. Considerable attention must be given to fire safety and protection of homes and property. Awareness of the dangers of fire is vital.
  • 10. Firefighting beaters can help make fire breaks and proved very beneficial at these recent fires in Wexford.