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Protect Your Greenhouse From The Worst Disasters

  • Monday, June 05, 2017

Protect Your Greenhouse From The Worst Disasters

Fire At Bergens Greenhouse
In April 2015, one of the three Bergen Greenhouses at its Forest Lake, MN, location burned to the ground. The 12-acre structure was a total loss.

As spring turns into summer and the busiest part of the season slows down, now’s the time that many of you might be turning your budgeted renovation projects into reality. But whether you’re building a new greenhouse or retrofitting an existing structure, there’s one simple rule to follow: expect the unexpected.

A natural weather event can quickly wreak havoc on your expansion plans, but there are still ways you can plan ahead. Check out the next few pages for tips from greenhouse manufacturers on how to deal with these calamities.

Fighting Fires

In April 2015, one of the three Bergen Greenhouses at its Forest Lake, MN, location burned to the ground. The 12-acre structure was a total loss.

With the help of Rough Brothers, Bergen’s was able to build a new poly open roof greenhouse with a few modifications to accommodate the heavy snow load in the northern states. The open roof was designed with a deeper open-gutter design to provide durability and rainwater collection capacity. Also, the substructure was Hot Dip Galvanized to allow gutter posts to act as rainwater downspouts to keep the greenhouse interior less cluttered.

Shane Nitschke of Rough Brothers, who supervised the project on his company’s behalf, says Rough has regional salespeople throughout the U.S., and this geographic proximity allows for convenient interaction between the grower and the manufacturer, from the first consultation through design and finally during greenhouse construction.

“The face-to-face communication always leads to a simplified project,” Nitschke says.

How To Prevent A Catastrophic Fire

Note: This section was written by Lauren Schiele at NIP Programs.

In a greenhouse environment, quickly spreading fires will easily destroy crops, damage facilities, and disrupt business operations, resulting in lost income. These blazing flames are a result of high temperature, combustible materials, and oxygen — all elements commonly found within a greenhouse.

Flammable materials exposed to high temperature sources plant the seed for a fire disaster. Add oxygen to the mix, and your whole greenhouse operation could get destroyed. Sources of these high temperatures include poor electrical wiring, overloaded circuits, soldering or welding work, heating systems and other equipment, and discarded cigarettes. When a flame or high heat comes into contact with plastic, greenhouse covers, shade cloths, chemicals, and other flammable items, a fire can break out. Increasing the flow of oxygen, such as through a fan, only intensifies and spreads the flames.

To prevent these elements from coming into contact with one another and starting a fire, it’s important to minimize and control fire hazards within your facility. Below are some tips from the NIP Group (NIPGroup.com), which develops and manages business insurance programs, to protect your greenhouse, crops, and employees.

Build Your Greenhouse To Resist Fires

The first step to preventing a fire is to safeguard your greenhouse by complying with building codes and National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements. This ensures your facility is constructed to avoid fires, including installed sprinklers, proper electrical wiring and grounding, and location distance from other buildings.

The layout and design of your greenhouse also contributes to fire prevention. Layout and design tips include but are not limited to:
• Building a separate ventilated area, preferably outside of your facility, to store flammable liquids
• Placing heating systems, electrical equipment, and other combustion-type equipment a safe distance away from flammable materials
• Using non-combustible building materials for walkways and other appropriate areas
• Regularly inspect and control fire hazards

Have A Plan If A Fire Does Break Out

Response by your employees can keep a fire from spreading and causing significant damage. Create an emergency response plan with steps to take if a fire does break out, including how and when to use a fire extinguisher, emergency contact numbers to call, and where to exit the facility.

If the fire causes property damages or injuries, the right insurance coverage will protect your greenhouse business from significant financial loss. To get the best coverage for your operational and financial needs, it’s important to know the risks your business faces. You’ll also want to find out what is covered under each type of insurance policy.

Read the original article here.