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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber CKirk922's Avatar
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    Default Round hay bale strategies? Got any?

    We responded to a barn with a heavy load of large round bales. No need to say much more than it whipped us. We tried class A wildland foam on spot piles late in the game to very marginal effect. Anyone know a trick to attacking these types of fires?
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments


  2. #2
    Savage / Hyneman 08'
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    Big tracked backhoe with a demolition jaw opposite the bucket.

    Seriously. It works well. Lots of power to rip things apart and the jaw makes it possible to pick things up.

    If you have the means, I highly recommend one.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber dday05's Avatar
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    Get a track hoe in if the barn can be salvaged. We have saved quite a few by that. Also having anoperator that is capable is another factor... Usually after removed from the barn it gets pushed into a huge pile and left to burn. You can never put that out. Well you can but that = a bunch of water and manpower.

    And it always amazes me when people have multiple depts respond to a fire with bales of hay in fields. Seperate what you can if any and let it burn. I understand there are some scenarios that could over rule what I said but for the most part what are you gonna do? Waste resources on a fire that is very difficult to extinguish completely?

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    Piercing nozzles work well

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    If you've got a barn that pretty full and burning pretty good, you're going to have a helluva time doing anything with it. If it's been burning long at all, the rafters of the barn are probably shot and it's going to have to be tore down anyway. Of course, that depends on how the barn's built and what it's built out of.

    If you can get a quick knockdown, the best thing I've seen done is to get someone/something that can get the bales out. A cabless tractor with a bale spike on the front isn't really a good option, but a cabbed tractor can certainly get it done and provide some safety for the operator. The thing is, you HAVE to have enough water and lines on the ground to keep the fire inside the barn knocked down AND to keep any burning bales that are being pulled out knocked down and the machinery cool.

    Class A foam does a decent job a lot of times, depending on how tightly the bales are wrapped and what kind of wrap they have on them (some use plastic sheeting around here). If you can't get the foam to what's burning, you're not doing any good, though. Plus, you have to keep in mind what kind of foam you're using and whether or not it's going to be toxic for the cattle if the farmer feeds what's saved. If it'll help you get a knock down and keep it down long enough to get some bales out, by all means use it.

    Piercing nozzles, especially used with foam, seem to work pretty well, as the water pushes out and the contour of the bale isn't shedding a lot of the it. But, when you're dealing with hay in a barn and a lot of fire load, that's probably not going to be a tactic that's feasible.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber CalvertFD168's Avatar
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    Piercing nozzles are great... unrolling the bale works pretty well if you have the ability..
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  7. #7
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs up What He Said................

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvertFD168 View Post
    Piercing nozzles are great... unrolling the bale works pretty well if you have the ability..

    You Got It!!............. Around here, Unrolling the bale is Job # 1. I've tried any number of tricks, but unrolling is the way to go......
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  8. #8
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    The Fit-5!!!

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    Dishwashing liquid in the booster tank @ a 1:1,000 ratio does a decent job. Don't be afraid to break out with a pitchfork or rake to break it apart.
    Last edited by txgp17; 03-22-2009 at 04:49 PM.
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    I vote to unroll it.

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    MembersZone Subscriber CKirk922's Avatar
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    Ok, let me throw a wrinkle in.... I failed to mention this was a barn with 40-70 round bails with most of the hay involved in fire to one degree or another.
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

  12. #12
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Talking Uh Oh...............

    Quote Originally Posted by fireeaterbob View Post
    Ok, let me throw a wrinkle in.... I failed to mention this was a barn with 40-70 round bails with most of the hay involved in fire to one degree or another.


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    OK, I'd be looking for a Backhoe type machine to move the bales out into an open area, then unroll them. A Skid Steer would be OK for some work like unrolling, but You'll need an "Articulating Arm" Machine to pull them out of the structure, or the remains thereof.
    Last edited by hwoods; 03-23-2009 at 10:04 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireeaterbob View Post
    Ok, let me throw a wrinkle in.... I failed to mention this was a barn with 40-70 round bails with most of the hay involved in fire to one degree or another.
    Like I alluded to earlier, if you've got that much fire load and that much fire, you're hosed. Barns are beyond light-weight construction and they're not going to last long with much fire at all, and you're going to have a helluva time getting the hay bales put out.

    The only hope I could see that you'd have is a LOT of water knocking it down enough to get the good bales out. Of course, that's probably after you pull the barn metal off of the top of it. Of course, the bales that aren't burned are going to be water-logged and probably won't be able to be fed anyway.

    We've had several times where we've just got to the point that we'll talk to the owner and just let it burn freely so that we're not out there all day and night. Sometimes it's better to just let it burn (most of the hay is ruined and the barn collapsed) than to put it out, pull some hay out and put some more water on hot spots, then pull more hay out,...

    If he's got decent insurance, his barn and bales are covered.

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber CKirk922's Avatar
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    Default What we did do...

    We spent three or four hours pulling barn tin and spinning our wheels before the storms set in. Just before the storms, we resorted to a Trackhoe, drug the bales out, started to foam 'em and then two lines of thunderstorms pushed through. We basically took cover in a garage and watched the wind whip it into a frenzy, packed up and left it to burn through the storms.

    I did not get back there the following morning (work, fire classes, more classes, sick kid, ect...)
    Last edited by fireeaterbob; 03-23-2009 at 09:22 PM.
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

  15. #15
    Forum Member wcfpd2601's Avatar
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    We go on several hay bale fires a year. Here is what we do on the different scenarios (usually...lol)....

    -In barn and not salvageable...going to call in the heavy equipment to rip it apart. Same scenario I would think if it is salvageable, without the ripping apart of course (don't think we have had this scenario though).

    -Just hay bale in field...unroll it is in deed the way to go!

    - Hay bales in a line (this is our most common case). If there is no other threat other than the additional hay bales in the line, we make a fire break if you will, by pushing a couple of the hay bales out of the line. Then if there is no threat of "extension" we just let the damn things burn. The fun part is if they have been sitting in a line for some time...they are stuck together.
    Last edited by wcfpd2601; 03-24-2009 at 02:55 PM. Reason: spelling
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  16. #16
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    Something to consider with hay is that if it is full of foam, and even if it gets soaked, it will rot and be no good for animal consumption.

    I know we want to put the fire out, but in a hay fire you won't really end up saving anything. If it is in a barn, try to get it out and save the building. Don't worry about what happens to the hay. (Don't let it catch the field on fire though)

  17. #17
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    The first department I was on had a few of these types of fires, and they are no fun. If the bales are in the barn, then you have a heavy fire load in a structure. Whether the barn is of traditional barn style construction, or of "polebarn" style of construction is really of little consequence due to the fact that you more than likely will have little option of an interior attack most of the time.( of course there are exceptions) With this scenario you will be there for awhile, no getting around that.

    Lots of tankers, good water shuttle, and pour the wet stuff on the red stuff. A few, or a lot, of strategically placed access holes may be of assistance to you so you can get the water onto the bales once the majority of flame has been knocked down. This of course depends on collapse potential of the building, any natural openings into the building, yada yada yada.

    Once you are able to actually "attack" the bales firsthand you might say, well this is where it gets down and dirty. Piercing nozzles are a good choice, especially if used with class A foam. Unrolling the bale is an option, if it can be done safely. The one tool we used alot was the old high pressure pump on an old engine. This was one of the great ideas from the '70s, we had a high pressure pump that operated between 600-800 psi. It didnt put out a lot of water, but it blew a bale apart like nobody's business. This rig is still in service on that department, it does have a 500 gpm pump as well, but it is the high pressure pump that makes it a work horse for this type of overhaul work. When this rig is retired, the high pressure pump days will be over for my old department, but while it is in service, it does make overhaul of these types of fires much easier.

    Either way you shake it out, round bale fires are no picnic. As for the worry about salvage; none of the farmers around here will try to feed the salvaged bales to the cattle. There is something about the smoke smell in hay and feed that cattle will not take to, they just will not eat the stuff. Guess they don't like to be reminded of what lies ahead? Not sure what the folks around your area do with the half burned or smoke damaged bales, just speaking about what happens in my little corner.

  18. #18

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    Default anyway you look at it

    none of it can be used as your said 40-70 bales on fire in some way or another.... keep it under control they arent good for anything we had 80 straw bales go up in under an hour they were all gone the farmer said dont mess with it there no good anymore witch there not but if you must it does work well to somewhat break them up and just dump lots of water on it

  19. #19
    DVFD kldugas412's Avatar
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    Default Heavy Equipment

    Track Hoe and some good old man power...
    Un roll um and soke down

    As for as the hay it will cause the animals to collic and get sick the hay starts to rot and caused excess gas This has been knowen to kill livestock.

    K Dugas
    Duson Vol.Fire Dept.
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  20. #20
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Excavator with a thumb.Lift,swing,unroll,remove ,tear apart,or whatever it takes.No quicker or easier method I know of. Yes,we got access to several on short notice. Works good on chicken barns too. T.C.

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