Fire and Emergency urges caution when baling hay this festive season

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire and Emergency urges caution when baling hay this festive season

Canterbury farmers are being asked to take all the correct steps when baling and storing hay, following a spate of shed and bale fires in the District.

Over the last two weeks Fire and Emergency has attended at least two fires relating to the baling of hay and its storage.

"Due to the wet weather around Canterbury and other parts of the country, some land managers have been able to get three to four cuts of hay this spring/summer," Fire and Emergency Group Manager Al Hutt says.

"This can put pressure on them to get the work done quickly and miss some crucial steps, which has created the perfect storm in terms of fire risk with hay bales," he says.

"Hay bales contain moisture and sometimes that means they can self-combust.

Hay bale fires can burn through farmland or the sheds the hay is stored in.

"Then a fire that starts in a shed could spread to machinery stored there and to connecting buildings," Al Hutt says.

Fire and Emergency recommends land managers take some important steps when baling hay and storing it.

"It is important to provide air flow where possible. Allow the hay to breathe; Check bales using a moisture meter or a simple steel rod - if the rod is too hot to hold unstack the pile. If the rod is very warm, regularly monitor your stack, and keep bales clear of other flammable objects like implement sheds, hedges and trees.

"Rushing the job can easily cause costly and dangerous consequences," Al Hutt says.