Fall harvest comes with many potential fire risks, and the National Corn Growers Association is reminding farmers to be cautious and follow proper safety procedures. Even in areas that are not warm and dry, leaves, stalks, husks, dust, oil and fuel still come into contact with exhaust, bearings and electrical wiring- all which pose a potential threat.
“Equipment fires are not only dangerous but are often extremely costly for farmers,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a Maryland farmer who has seen dry conditions firsthand. “During this busy season, a fire can halt harvest work in an instant causing property damage and consuming valuable time. Building risk management practices into your harvest schedule could end up saving both time and money.”
- First, keep farm equipment clean, particularly the engine compartment as 75 percent of all machinery fires start there.
- At the beginning of each day, check engine fluid levels, particularly coolant and oil levels, in all equipment that will be used. Look for any possible leaking fuel or oil hoses, fittings or metal lines.
- Next, eliminate heat sources that could increase fire risk. Most commonly, exhaust system surfaces containing flammable material ignite fires in this fashion.
- As arcing electrical wires generate extremely high temperatures in farm machinery, make sure to scan for signs of wiring damage or deterioration daily.
- Much like damaged wiring, worn bearings can also reach extremely high temperatures which can cause any rubber belt coming into contact with this intense heat to ignite. Make sure to inspect for worn bearings, belts and chains frequently.
Even with proper care, fires can still occur. Ensure a fire extinguisher is installed in each cab, still within reach from the ground. If a fire occurs, shut off the engine, grab the extinguisher and exit the vehicle. Contact professional assistance as quickly as possible. Contact your local fire officials for more information.