Combine fires happen every fall, but farmers can take steps to mitigate their risks
As producers across the Prairies begin harvest, safety – especially when it comes to the risk of combine fires – should be a priority.
Jody Wacowich, the executive director with Ag Safe Alberta, shared several tips on how to prevent fires.
“The first and seemingly most obvious method is keeping your equipment clean. Blow the dust off at the end of the day. Remove any residue or combustibles that may have built up through the course of the day. If it’s particularly dusty, you should even stop partway through the day to do” this task, she told Farms.com.
Producers should conduct annual inspections of their fire extinguishers. Every six years, a technician should take your fire extinguisher apart to ensure it’s working properly, said Wacowich.
Farmers should also ensure all staff and family members know how to use a fire extinguisher.
“A good acronym to remember is PASS. So, we want to pull the pin, aim, squeeze, and sweep at the bottom of the fire,” said Wacowich.
Farm teams should discuss protocol to follow if a fire erupts.
“What do we need to do if we start a fire in the field? Who's going to be in the field?” asked Wacowich.
Certain areas across the Prairies are dry this year, so having a water truck or trailer with a water tank nearby is a good preventative measure, she said.
“Also, make sure that equipment works. You'd hate to turn it on and find out that somebody left it on over the winter and something froze open. Suddenly, we can't get water out of that tank to put the fire out,” she said.
In each piece of equipment, farmers should also have maps with land locations in case equipment operators need to contact first responders, Wacowich said.
During the busy fall season, accidents can occur as a result of the long hours and the rush to complete everything.
It’s important to “stop and take a minute. Look around to identify what hazards you have around you today, as they can change from field to field and equipment to equipment. But also stop and take that moment for a break. Give your body a chance to reset and get ready to go again,” said Wacowich.
While it’s important to get the job done, farmers need to look after themselves, especially with the added pressure of the pandemic.
“It will be more important than ever to really manage your people to keep them healthy so that you have them through the whole season,” said Wacowich. “Keep everybody healthy and moving forward.
“We want to wish everyone a safe and happy harvest. Hopefully, we finish before November this year,” she added.
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