Fires in the area/SDWF fire prevention guidelines


As dry conditions and windy days continue their hold across the region, area fire crews from New Underwood, Hereford, Elm Springs, Enning and Union Center have been called to numerous fires in the latter part of June.
While causes of the fires have varied from utility pole sparks to lightning to haying equipment, it is important for area ranchers to be prepared to extinguish a fire or have a good system in place to enlist help in battling a fire.
According to a press release from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Wildland Fire Division (SDWF), there has been an increase this year in fires started by balers. In response, the SDWF has compiled a list of recommendations for hay producers.
•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.
While volunteer fire crews are faithful to respond to fire incidents, it is also important for farmers and ranchers to be prepared to aid in battling blazes in order to keep a small incident from getting out of hand. In addition to having a water tank and pump readily available, the SDWF also has these recommendations concerning what to do in case a fire does occur.
•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.

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
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