For Farms

Farming Safety

Rural communities face unique fire risks and other safety hazards. The distance between communities and between residents within those communities results in challenges related to fire. Fire death rates in rural areas are very high. Additionally, loss of property and livestock has an extremely emotional and economic impact on residents in the local area.

Control of Fire Hazards

  • For a fire safety check sheet in regards to barn/farm safety, view this document.
  • Cut down, remove weeds, and brush from around buildings. 
  • In buildings, check for excessive accumulation of dust, feathers, cobwebs, and other potential combustibles. 
  • Reduce and keep away from heat-unneeded items that will burn. 
  • Arrange shops and barns so that flammables are safely away from ignition sources. 
  • Use approved electrical installations including proper fuses or circuit breakers, waterproof outlets, enclosed electric motors, and similar equipment in any buildings, which are cleaned, periodically with high-pressure equipment.
  • Inspect all wiring and electric motors and appliances for exposed wires, broken insulation, improper grounding, and incorrect installations.
  • Check the heating system. See that air shafts are clean of dust and debris, motors are cleaned and oiled (if necessary) each season and pulley belts are in good working order. Check gas and fuel oil systems for leaks and unsafe installations.

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, bond the containers to each other and ensure they are properly grounded to prevent sparks from static electricity.
  • Clean up hazardous materials 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 gas containers in a secure upright position, away from heat sources in an outdoor or well-ventilated 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 larger tanks at least 25 feet away.


  • Keep other persons, especially children, off of and away from operating machinery.
  • 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 backfiring and exhaust systems in good condition to avoid sparks. Keep machinery properly lubricated to minimize friction.
  • Farm machinery is extremely dangerous and can quickly kill or cause serious injuries. Use caution during maintenance, operation, and storage to prevent a tragedy.

Hot Work

  • Always have a fire extinguisher immediately available during any hot work, including welding, grinding, brazing, and cutting operations. Watch for molten metal and sparks, as they 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, as well as paint or linseed-soaked rags, in sealed containers in cool, well-ventilated places away from other combustibles.
  • Avoid storing wet hay and check stored hay for warm spots. If hay temperature is noticeably warmer than when it was put in, watch it closely. If the temperature reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit, get the hay out or divide it into small, shallow stacks.
  • Watch for silage danger signs - heat, the release of moisture, vapor or steam, smoke, or a charred tobacco smell. A fine chop permits the material to be packed more firmly in both trench and upright silos. Silos designed to be sealed should be kept closed, except for loading or unloading.

For more fire prevention and safety tips around the farm visit the Rutgers website.

Call Before You Dig

811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig or bore any holes in the ground should call 811 or visit their state 811 center's website a few business days before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked. Utility representatives will visit your work area with paint or flags to mark the hazards so that you do not unintentionally disturb an underground utility line.

811 protects you and your community! Hitting a buried line while digging can disrupt utility service, cost money to repair, or cause serious injury or death. Always contact your 811 centers, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request, and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before putting a shovel in the ground.

For information, follow the link below to get in contact with the right people to help ensure you are safe while digging.
Visit the call811 website.

  1. Fire & EMS

    Physical Address
    10 West Back Street
    Fincastle, VA 24090

  2. Emergency Communications Center

    Emergency Phone: 911