Fire Safety First

Photos by Bob M. Montgomery Images,
The leading cause of agriculture fires is open flame caused by candles, matches, bonfires, sparks, static electricity, friction, welding and equipment. Other causes of fires may include natural resources such as spontaneous combustion and lightning. Most sugarhouses make use of either wood or oil/gas to fire the arch, so far in the operation is a constant danger.

How Fires burn

The elements necessary to create a fire are fuel, heat and oxygen. These elements constitute the fire triangle. Removal or control of one element will remove or control a fire hazard.

Know your fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishing equipment can be classified into two types: portable and fixed. However, a portable, ABC-rated fire extinguisher is more practical for agricultural use, capable of extinguishing Class A, B or C fires.

Fire classes

Control of fire hazards

Minimize hazards on site

Strictly enforce a no smoking rule inside a building or areas where flammable and combustible materials are stored or near storage, shipping or receiving areas where boxes or other containers can easily start a fire.

Keep flammable liquids away from open flames and motors that might spark. Never smoke when refueling.

When transferring flammable liquids from metal containers, bind the containers to each other and ground the one being dispersed from to prevent sparks from static electricity. Clean up spills right away and put oily rags in a tightly covered metal container. Change your clothes immediately if you get oil or solvents on them.

Flammable liquids should be clearly marked and stored in approved containers in well ventilated areas away from heat and sparks. Keep above ground fuel storage tanks at least 40 feet from buildings.

Store compressed gases in a secure upright position, away from heat sources in an outdoor location. Keep different gases separately and full cylinders apart from empty cylinders, When heating with propane, keep 100-pound cylinders at least 15 feet away from heaters; keep large tanks at last 25 feet away.


Re-fuel machinery with care. Watch for and repair leaks in fuel lines, carburetors, pumps and filters. Keep engines properly tuned and timed to avoid back firing and exhaust systems in good condition to avoid sparks. Keep machinery properly lubricated to minimize friction.


Always have a fire extinguisher on hand during hot work. Watch for molten metal as it can ignite flammables or fall into cracks and start a fire that might not erupt until hours after the work is completed. Use portable cutting and welding equipment in clean work areas.

Keep flammables at least 35 feet from a hot work area. Be sure other tanks and other containers that have held flammable liquids are completely naturalized and purged before you do any hot work on them

Spontaneous combustion

Many materials under certain conditions heat spontaneously. Store vegetable and animal oils and paints or linseed - soaked rags in sealed containers in cool, well ventilated places away from other combustibles.



The information and recommendations contained in this publication are believed to be reliable and representative of contemporary expert opinion on the subject material. The Farm Safety Association, Inc. does not guarantee absolute accuracy or sufficiency of subject material, nor can it accept responsibility for health and safety recommendations that may have been omitted due to particular and exceptional conditions and circumstances.