Photo by Faith Berry
Harvest time is right around the corner. Some of NFPA’s Firewise communities are located in rural agricultural areas that also are close to natural grassy or forested areas. Harvest fire safety is important to prevent igniting a wildfire in these areas. A key component in making sure that your combine or other equipment does not spark a wildfire is to follow some of these simple tips:
- Proper maintenance: Make sure that all bearings, drives and other components needing lubrication are properly lubricated. Follow your equipment guidelines regarding the frequency of lubrication necessary for the hours of operation of the equipment. If you have chains make sure that they do not hang so low that they bang on rocks or pavement and create sparks that could cause a fire.
- Walk around the vehicle and check for wear or deterioration: Make sure that you make sure that any electrical, hydraulic or other components do not show signs of wear or deterioration. Check wiring for rodent damage. Look for tears, leaks, loose, or cracked hoses, pipes or equipment.
- Refuel only when the engine is cool: Do not add fuel or oil to your vehicle until the engine has cooled down.
- Carry a shovel and fire extinguisher: Check with local regulations about the size and type of extinguisher recommended for the size and type of equipment that you are using. Keep the fire extinguisher on the equipment and make sure that you know how to use it.
- Check after using low clearance vehicles: Catalytic converters, mufflers, other exhaust systems can be hot enough to ignite dry stubble in a field. Check your field after operating equipment for smoke or smoldering material.
- Clean crop material off equipment: Frequently clean straw, husks, stubble and other organic crop materials from farm equipment. Some crops are oilier than others and may require more frequent removal.
- Call if you notice a fire immediately: Make sure that you know the location of the field that you are working in and have a cell phone handy to call 911 if you notice a fire in the field or if the equipment has caught fire. Get to a safe location.
According to an AEF article about preventing combine fires, most combine fires occur at the end of the harvest season when crops are drier and farmers are exhausted and prone to human error. Starting each day with clean equipment and following some simple safety steps, can help farmers have a safer harvest season and help prevent igniting a wildfire. For more information about wildfire preparedness check out the NFPA Firewise USA website.