Tips for Preventing Combine Fires from Occurring
25 August 2017
Because the last thing you need is equipment going down in the field.
For many, harvest season is in full swing or winding down. With all the hustle and bustle, one of the things many growers don’t place enough emphasis on is combine fire prevention. After all, you’ve devoted a lot into the purchase, maintenance, and storage of your combines, why not ensure they last? To keep farmers safe during harvest, Big Ag is sharing some preventative tips to keep that combine safe from catching fire.
Keep it Clean - It’s important to clean the engine compartment and exhaust at least once a day. This is crucial during the months of October and November which is peak harvest season. Be sure to pressure wash to remove all of the caked-on grease, oil, and crop residue. Use compressed air to clean out the chaff and dust. When weather conditions continue to make fields dry, dry plant materials accumulate on combines, making it necessary to keep the combine clean.
Inspect! Inspect! Inspect! – Don’t let yourself get in a hurry to beat the weather or catch up on lost time. Farmers need to make sure to conduct an inspection every day before running their combine. Look for loose hoses, replace damaged wires, and fix any leaks. Also make sure to check oil and coolant levels.
Fuel Safety – Regularly inspect fuel lines. When refueling, always shut off the engine and let the equipment cool for 15 minutes before you refuel. Wipe up oil and fuel spills as they happen. This prevents chaff and trash from collecting and combining to start a fire.
Extinguishers are a Must! – A farmer’s best source of protection for a combine is a fully charged ten-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher. It’s best to have two extinguishers on the combine. One extinguisher should be in the cab; and one where it can be access from the ground. Check fire extinguishers frequently paying particular attention to the pressure gauge. The gauge must show adequate pressure to expel the powder inside. Recharge partially discharged extinguishers.
Eliminate the Heat Source – Combine fires can start from many heat sources. The most common is exhaust system surfaces that touch any flammable material. That’s why it’s important to make sure the exhaust system is free from leaks. Keep an eye out for worn bearings, belts, and chains. A worn bearing can glow red- hot. A rubber belt can burst into flames once it’s subjected to extreme heat.
Maintain is Key – If you’re handling the maintenance yourself, pay close attention to the operator’s manual and follow instructions and schedules for lubrication and routine maintenance. Make sure to replace any leaking fuel or oil hoses, fittings, or metal lines immediately. If you’re relying on your local dealer for maintenance, make sure to have regular service appointments.
Combines are replaceable; people aren’t. If you find yourself in the midst of a combine fire, get out, extinguish and call 911.
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