Fires during harvest season are very common and can be caused by a variety of factors. Though all fires are devastating, fires in the fall have the additional potential of ruining an expensive harvester, burning off a crop that is at full maturity and costly delays to get back to the field. Some of the most common causes of fires during the harvest season include:
- Oil and grease mixed with flammable crop residue that has built up around hot engine parts.
- Sparks from exhaust of harvesters, trucks and ATV’s in the field.
- Dry, worn bearings and equipment malfunctions that overheat or cause sparks.
- Hitting rocks or other objects in the field that causes a spark.
- Doing maintenance such as welding, cutting or drilling in a field with dry residue.
Fighting fires during harvest is difficult as well. Here are a few tips to be prepared if a fire does occur:
- Have fire extinguishers on every vehicle including tractors, combines, grain trucks, pickup trucks, tool trucks, etc.
- Harvesters should have multiple fire extinguishers. One in the cab, one near the engine compartment, and at least one on the side of the machine that can be reached from the ground—preferably one on each side of the machine.
- All fire extinguishers should be larger size to fight a fire for longer duration—type ABC or BC are common for combines and tractors.
- Be sure that maintenance trucks that might have more exposure to fires have extra fire extinguishers.
- When doing maintenance that could produce sparks, either take the equipment out of the field or have a person monitor your activities with an extinguisher at the ready.
- Be sure that all equipment that goes into fields has spark arrestors built into the exhaust.
- Do not park vehicles with catalytic converters or other hot exhaust equipment on top of crop residue.
Be Prepared. One farmer in Nebraska had a combine catch fire while they were doing maintenance, and even though they immediately saw the fire when it ignited, it still took 20 fire extinguishers—every extinguisher from every vehicle that was nearby—before the fire was completely out.
Protect your family and your employees by taking these precautions, and Get Home Safe every night.