A final consideration for those interested in improving fire response on the farm might be the installation of a dry hydrant. A dry hydrant is a standpipe with a standard hydrant connection which leads to a farm pond or natural water source. Most rural areas where farms can be found do not have on site public water supplies to be used by firefighters to fight fires. Most rural fire departments either rely on tankers to shuttle water to a fire and/or plan to draw water from local natural or manmade water sources. Many farms have an advantage over other rural residences because there are farm ponds that were originally built to provide water for cattle and other agricultural activities. The dry hydrants are set up to allow for that water to be used by the first responders. Do the first responders have the ability to draw their own water from the pond? Yes they probably do, but accessing the pond may take valuable time before they can be set up to do so. Installation of a dry hydrant is not that difficult. There are some engineering and likely some type of community approvals required to ensure everything operates appropriately. A discussion with the local Fire Department is probably the best place to start. Irrigation from other large wells found on farms can, in some cases, also be set up to allow for emergency use. But, if the power shutoff and power supply for the well pump is not routed separately from the rest of the farm structures you may find that the first responders may not be able to use it because they cut power to the entire farm or the building on fire for safety reasons.
Though there are thousands of agricultural fires in the U.S. each year, addressing this risk on your own farm does not require large sums of money, time or effort. Small steps taken to assess risk, train family and staff, review plans and improve preparedness are all simple to do and worth the time in the big picture, if you consider the value of the farm operation.
Dean Ross is an agrosecurity and dairy farm management consultant based in Michigan. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org