Nowadays, wildfires are garnering more and more attention. Maybe it is because wildfire scares have become our new normal. From negligently discarded cigarettes to intentional acts of arson, humans are both starting and enduring the fires. Moreover, it is the farmers who have to bear the brunt of these horrible situations. Wildfires can destroy facilities and crops in the blink of an eye. In the case of marijuana growers, this poses a considerable risk. Do you know how to fireproof your marijuana farm?
This article will go through all the most essential tips to prevent a disaster from ever taking place. Though there is plenty we can do to prevent fires from starting, this kind of change will take too much time. As for now, fires will start whether we like it or not, but we can do something. We can plan to be well prepared when they come. Are you intrigued by our tips? So, read on to learn the ins and outs of every fire prevention technique for your marijuana farm.
Preparing a Property for Fire Prevention
To begin with, everyone should consider some general recommendations for all properties, including:
- Always leave 100 feet of “defensible space” around all structures. This includes combustible materials leaning against or under the property.
- All trees and branches should measure at least five feet above the ground. If this is not the case, you should trim and prune them. By doing this, we break the “fire ladder” of combustible material. Trim even more if they are near any structures.
- Keep out gutters clean. They usually get filled with leaves. We need to avoid that.
- Mow your grassy areas. It is better if you can do this in late spring. It can be done later, but you have to be careful of sparks from the mower blades. Another option is to bring in goats. They will eat your grasses and problem solved.
- Leave at hand water hoses. Trust us, in case of fire, you will need them as soon as possible. So, place them where you can quickly access them.
- There should be at least one fire extinguisher in all structures. Charge them all and make sure they are up to date.
- Post the address numbers of the property at every turn-off along entrance roads. They should be big enough so firefighters can quickly find your place.
- Pack emergency evacuation essentials, including animal carriers.
- Make up a plan for farm animals. Though we are focusing on the crops for this article, we should protect animals too.
Fire Protection for the Cannabis Farm
Apart from taking care of all the above, there are many measures you can take to fireproof your cannabis farm:
- When you mow the meadow and prune the trees, you can also clean up fallen branches and leaves. Take advantage of this situation! Put the branches through a wood chipper and set them aside to weather through the winter. Mix the pile with leaves and grass cuttings. Let it compost for a while. Afterward, you can apply the pile as a top dressing to the cannabis in the springtime.
- Consider changing the drip irrigation to automatic. If you don’t already have a drip system, this is the perfect excuse to get one. Fret not! It is easy peasy! You have to place timers and solenoids on each branch of the system and the main supply line. By setting up this system, the timers will continue watering the crop even if there is an evacuation.
- Look for frayed wires, proper fuses, and system grounding. It is essential to inspect any electrical supply lines and fixtures. Besides, we should never underestimate the importance of having smoke detectors in all buildings that are.
- As we have previously mentioned, there should be a “defensible space” around all structures. In the case of petroleum products and other combustible liquids, you should also store them away from these structures. The aim is to prevent an explosion.
- If it is viable, connect your own “mini-fire hydrant” to your water system. Keep at least 6000 pressurized gallons of available water. Moreover, the water tanks should always be full.
- Have you plotted out an alternate escape route? Expect the unexpected. For instance, the fire might cut off your exit. Also, you can regularly clear fallen limbs and excess brush that block the exit road.
- When visitors arrive, please don’t allow them to park in a field with tall grasses. Keep in mind that hot vehicle engines can start fires if parked in places like this.
- To prevent accidental fires, you can forbid smoking while walking on the farm. New rule: if you want to smoke, sit down, take a break, and be mindful.
What If You Have to Evacuate?
In the California cannabis regulations and Metrc guidelines, there is an emergency clause in cases of evacuation. According to these rules, you can evacuate cannabis with emergency documentation by a licensed distributor. Nevertheless, fires are the perfect scenario to use the phrase “the clock is ticking.”
If time is against you, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) allows licensees to take your cannabis away. These are approved after a 24 hours’ notice. Afterward, you can take the plants to a safe place with restricted access. However, each county has its regulations. So, don´t wait until a fire starts to check your county´s specific requirements.
Moreover, it isn’t a mere coincidence we are using California for our example. In 2020, a series of wildfires ravaging Northern California inflicted significant damage on several marijuana farms. Everyone had to evacuate, and plenty of crops were lost. No one wants to consume smoky marijuana. The problem isn´t just in California. The entire west coast marijuana crop is constantly threatened by fire. This is heartbreaking for the legal cannabis industry.
Another idea we found while doing our fire-prevention research is to buy a small trailer. You might be wondering, “what is a trailer good for in this emergency?” Outfit it with a 200-gallon water tank, a gasoline transfer pump, and a 1½ inch fire hose. It doesn’t seem so useless now. As easy as that, we have a “first response” fire trailer. Besides, you can also find the trailer other uses, such as spraying water on the dirt road for dust suppression.
Last but not least, as regards your crew, there are several measures you can take:
- You should perform fire drills so they know how to use the equipment.
- Talking about fire awareness can potentially save lives.
- It is crucial to have a fire alarm signal. In case of an emergency, everyone on the farm will hear it and realize what is happening.
- On those very smoky days when the air quality is over 100 AQI, everyone must take some precautions.
Use particle filtration masks. You should also avoid demanding tasks and being exposed to smoke for too long. Inhaling even light smoke can be jeopardizing for your health.
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Preserving the Crop
There is plenty of work you can do to preserve the crops! For example, if a lot of ash has fallen on the plants, a leaf blower will protect them from harm. Though designed to generate a current of air that collects loose leaves, it works excellent with ash. Besides, you can also spray clear water on the leaf tops and backs. The idea of this method is to wash the ashes off without making a lye paste. A water spray rinse will come in handy to open the stomata on the underside of the leaves. The reason behind this is to make it easier for the plant to “breathe.”
Usually, fire season is when growers go through a hard time. An idea for these daring moments is to, during harvest, weigh the plants as you cut them. It would be best if you dunked each separate branch in a 55-gallon drum filled with diluted hydrogen peroxide. Then each branch should be rinsed in a 55-gallon drum of clean water. Remember to change the water after every four plants. After following this procedure, none of your cultivars will smell of fire or test for any contaminants.
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Can cannabis farms withstand wildfire seasons? The answer is resounding yes; of course, they can. All in all, there are plenty of ways in which farmers can get ready for the worst. In the wake of a disaster, marijuana growers are experts at rolling with the punches. Besides, taking your mind off the big issue and working towards fixing it also relieves stress.
We hope our article helps you prepare to face the genuine danger of wildfire. The more you know about wildfire safety, the fewer chances you will end up with burned marijuana. The most straightforward measures can make the difference, such as trimming trees, setting a fire alarm, and collecting branches. It is better to be safe than sorry. Anyway, fingers crossed no fire gets to your crops this season. May the Fire Gods spare us all.