A firefighting farmer from the north of Scotland is urging farmers and crofters to take care when using heat lamps in livestock sheds.
Stewart Macpherson, who farms at Dell Farm in Whitebridge near Inverness, is an on-call firefighter through the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) where he is crew commander at Foyers Community Fire Station.
He is urging his peers of the potential fire risks from using heat lamps or fan heaters to keep young livestock warm in sheds and barns.
“All across the country, especially at this time of year, firefighters respond to fires at farms caused by heat lamps or fan heaters,” said Mr Macpherson.
“I’ve been a farmer for a long time, and I am well aware of the critical importance of using a heat source to warm a new-born lamb to boost its chance of survival.
“Farmers and crofters will continue to use these devices, but I would urge caution, and for anyone using these heat sources to take simple but hugely effective measures to reduce the risk of fire.”
Mr Macpherson said all heat sources should be secured and kept away from flammable material, and farmers should keep a fire extinguisher nearby and call the fire service in the event of any farm fire.
“Farms are especially high-risk of fire, in terms of fuel stores and volumes of combustible materials such as hay and straw,” added Mr Macpherson.
“The consequences can be tragic, with animals killed, and fire can have a devastating impact on your livelihood.”
He said SFRS works in close partnership with rural bodies, including NFU Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates, through its Rural Risk Project.
This is a secure database designed to ensure local firefighters are aware of any risks if they are called to an emergency at a farm or croft.
“This data is absolutely vital for the safety of firefighters first and foremost, but could also be crucial in terms of reducing any loss or damage at your farm in the event of emergency,” said Mr Macpherson.
Details about the Rural Risk Project are online at firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/outdoors/rural-safety/