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Fire Safety Measures for a Smooth Harvest Season

Every year, incidents of combine fires during the harvest season are reported. According to a study conducted out of nearly 9,000 grain combine fires in the U.S., the majority (41.3%) were caused by crop residue. The accumulation of crop residue and dust on engines and in cracks and crevices of the combine contributes to the risk of fire. To reduce this risk, farmers should focus on three key aspects: prevention, preparation, and practicality.

Prevention:

Keep the combine clean by power washing to remove grease, oil, and crop residue. Use leaf blowers to clear chaff, leaves, and other crop materials from bearings, belts, and moving parts.

  • Eliminate potential heat sources such as exposed electrical wiring, worn bearings, belts, and chains. Regularly check these areas and make necessary repairs.
  • Use an infrared thermometer to monitor temperatures. Bearings and belts above 180 degrees Fahrenheit can cause damage, and temperatures reaching 300 degrees Fahrenheit require immediate shutdown.
  • Avoid parking a hot combine in sheds or shops to prevent potential flare-ups.
  • Inspect electrical lines for bare wires, rodent damage, rubbing, or insulation melting. Use heat-resistant insulation and consider using a chain to discharge static electricity.

Preparation:

  • Keep a fully charged, 10-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher with UL approval in the combine cab. Have it professionally checked annually.
  • Mount a second, larger fire extinguisher and a shovel on the exterior of the combine, easily accessible from the ground.
  • Recharge partially discharged extinguishers.
  • Carry a cell phone for emergency communication.
  • Have a plan in case of fire: turn off the engine, grab the fire extinguisher and phone, exit the combine, and seek help while maintaining a safe distance.

Practicality:

  • Prioritize personal safety and evacuate the combine immediately in the event of a fire.
  • Call 911 before attempting to extinguish the fire.
  • Direct extinguishing materials at the base of the fire and approach with caution, as small fires can quickly escalate.
  • If the fire spreads in the field, consider creating a tilled strip around it as a barrier.
  • Remember, your safety comes first, and combines can be replaced.
  • In dry seasons, consider having the sprayer filled with water to create a perimeter in case of a small fire.

Be mindful of weather conditions, as the study by Thelen  and team revealed that 48.5% of combine fires occurred between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., when temperatures are highest and relative humidity is lowest. As you prepare for the 2023 harvest, take preventive measures to avoid combine fires, but also be prepared and prioritize safety in case of an emergency.

For additional information on farm safety and best management practices, please visit the following link: https://www.farms.com/farm-safety/

Source : michiganagconnection

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