LEADING rural insurer NFU Mutual is urging farmers to put new fire prevention and control plans in place as the UK cost of farm fires shot up a staggering 40 percent to over £69m last year.

Farm fires cost the North West £1.1m in 2020. Whilst this is a fall in cost of 30 percent from the previous year, farm fires remain a significant risk in the region.

Electrical faults were a major cause of farm fires in 2020, according to NFU Mutual, which insures three quarters of UK farms. Extreme weather and dry conditions also contributed to the huge national cost of farm fires last year.

Fire spreading from electrical cabinets underlined the importance of regular inspections by competent professionals, in addition to regular dust-downs and ensuring clear space around control panels.

Fires involving increasingly popular biomass boilers were an alarming new trend identified from NFU Mutual’s claims data as more farmers look to alternative fuel sources. However, the insurer says that a system of servicing and maintenance, along with good housekeeping and waste disposal procedures can help mitigate risks.

Agricultural vehicle fires accounted for an additional £20m during 2020. Fires writing off combine harvesters - which can cost up to £850,000 - prompted the insurer to encourage farmers to fit accredited fire suppression systems with discounted agricultural vehicle premiums to help save lives and property.