Fire service urges farmers to be alert about crop fires during hot weather

Fire near Ripon last year. Photo: N Yorks Fire and Rescue Service.

A senior fire officer has urged farmers to be take steps to avoid the types of devastating crop fires seen in North Yorkshire last summer.

During an online public meeting yesterday, Zoe Metcalfe, the Conservative Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, quizzed Tom Hirst, area manager and director of capabilities at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (NYFRS), about how farmers are being supported to protect their land from fires brought on by the heat.

Last summer there was a huge crop fire near Sharow with dramatic footage on social media showing a 300m wall of fire ripping through a cereal crop as temperatures reached 32C.

Fires don’t always start due to dry crops either as a blaze near Thirsk last July was confirmed to have begun due to overheated bearings on a combine harvester, according to NYFRS.

During last summer there was also a massive crop fire in Norfolk that surged through a field and ended up destroying five homes.

Mr Hirst said officers have been speaking with farmers to advise them on what needs to be done to avoid crops or buildings being destroyed by a blaze.

Mr Hirst said: “We’re asking them to put brakes around the fields to stop that spread we’ve been seeing. We’re also giving advice on cleanliness and maintenance. we’re seeing a lot of agricultural vehicles setting alight due to build up of dust and the heat.

“There’s also things like having water bowsers and things available. It’s about trying to stop it happening in the first place.”

Earlier this year, inspectors questioned the North Yorkshire fire service’s ability to respond to fires in a highly critical report.

However, it it was rated “good” at responding to major and multi-agency incidents.

Ms Metcalfe told fire officers at yesterday’s meeting that she expects the service to deliver an overall “good” rating at the next inspection, which is expected to be within the next two years.