Here is another harvest safety article on fire prevention. I vaguely remember our combine catching fire when I was little. I think we caught it early, and there wasn’t much damage. Someone that lives down the road from us wasn’t so lucky 2 years ago. They made it out in time, but their combine was a total loss and the burnt out shell ended up sitting out in their field for several months before they were able to break it up and have it hauled it away as scrap. Fires can move quickly, causing property damage and putting the operator at risk.
Preventative maintenance is the best way to minimize the risk of fire. Clean out dust and debris before the start of the season and as often as you can during harvest. Also check wiring and bearings for signs of damage at the beginning of the season. Pay especially close attention to the wiring if you see signs that mice have been in your combine while it was parked. I don’t know why mice enjoy chewing on wires so much, but it seems like every few years we find something they’ve chewed up and wreaked.
Having a fire extinguisher handy is also recommended. Since most tractor fires are petroleum based, make sure you get an ABC-type extinguisher. The National Agricultural Safety Database recommends the 5-pound size extinguisher for tractors and combines.Click here to see the NASDB’s recommendations for ag fire extinguishers. Extinguishers cost as little as $30 so it’s not a big expense. Keep an eye on the expiration dates, and make sure that extinguishers are replaced as needed.
If you see signs of smoke, get out of the cab right away. Use caution if you try to put the fire out yourself. Surfaces can become hot very quickly, and if you open on a panel on an area that is on fire, the increased airflow can cause the fire to expand quickly and expand outside of the compartment. When in doubt, call the fire department!