Combine Fire Prevention Holt Boyd Podcast - October 10, 2022 - Amy Timmerman, Extension Educator
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[0:00] This is Amy Timmerman with this week’s [0:02] Extension update [0:03] Harvest season is in full swing, and we have been blessed with some rain, [0:07] however conditions are still dry and conducive for fires. [0:11] In this week’s extension update, we will discuss steps to [0:13] prevent combine fires, precautionary steps to take [0:16] and what to do when a fire occurs. [0:19] So, how to we prevent combine fires
[0:21] 1. Keep combines clean–majority of fires start around the engine, [0:26] turbo charger and exhaust system. [0:28] Thus, manufacturers recommend cleaning the machine [0:30] after shutting down at the end of every day. [0:32] ;Paying close attention to remove accumulated crop residue. [0:35] Battery or gas-powered leaf blowers are great tools to provide [0:39] high quantities of air to move debris off the machine while out in the field. [0:43] Also consider periodically power washing to remove grease and oil, [0:46] which can allow a small fire to spread quickly.
[0:49] 2. Don’t Park equipment near flashy fuels [0:52] Let combines cool down before parking them [0:55] inside a machine shed after harvesting all day. [0:57] If parked out in the field, try to park on a fire-resistant surface. [1:01] ;Sparks and malfunctions can occur at any time [1:04] and crop debris can continue to smolder [1:07] if the machine is not cleaned at the end of the day.
[1:10] 3. Reduce combine engine load [1:12] – increasing harvest speed and putting combine engines [1:15 under a lot of stress increases the chances of fire. [1:19] When possible, reduce harvest speed and reduce engine stress
[1:22] And finally 4. Keep bearings cool [1:25] Check bearings daily looking for wear and tear. [1:28] If you own infrared thermometer, check bearings once the machine has warmed up. [1:33] Bearings will typically run between 125-150 F. [1:37] Once bearing are reaching temperatures around 180 F, damage can occur. [1:43] If bearing temperatures reach above 300 F, shut the machine off immediately.
[1:48] Being prepared is one of the big keys to prevent a major disaster. [1:52] Here is some other precautionary steps you may also want to take.
[1:56] 1. When starting to harvest a field, consider starting on the downwind side of the field. [2:01] This way if a fire does occur, the flames will be pushed toward the harvested portion of the field.
[2:07] 2. Always carry a cell phone or alternative for communicating with others in case of a fire.
[2:13] 3. Carry a minimum of one 10 lb ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher stored in or near the cab of the combine. [2:21] When you are using a fire extinguisher remember PASS - P - Pull the Pin [2:26] A - Aim the nozzle; S - Squeeze the trigger; and finally S - Sweep across the base of the fire. [2:33] During the harvest season, invert and shake the extinguisher once or twice to prevent [2:37] machine vibration from consolidating the dry chemicals at the bottom of the canister.
[2:43] 4. Know the location of the field in relationship to letter or number on county roads
[2:49] 5. Have a tractor hooked to a disk near the field you are harvesting
[2:53] and 6. Have a large water tank with water near the field.
[2:57] Now, we can do all these precautionary steps and fires can still occur. [3:01] So what do we do once a fire has started?
[3:04] 1. Immediately pull the machine, if possible, [3:07] into adjacent areas that have already been harvested.
[3:10] 2. Turn the machine off. [3:12] The air intake systems and fans keep providing oxygen [3:15] to the flames if machine continues working.
[3:20] 3. Call 911 before trying to extinguish the fire yourself. [3:24] Depending on location, it may take 30 minutes or longer before the [3:27] fire department can reach the scene. [3:30] Adrenaline is flowing but provide dispatch with as much detail [3:33] regarding your location as possible. [3:36] Include county road names and numbers or precise description such as [3:40] 5 miles east and 4 mile north of Farmer Brown’s house. [3:44] The advantage of our volunteer fire departments is their knowledge of [3:47] where people live in the area. [3:50] However, it does occur every year that a department will get a called out a fire [3:54] and told that it is located “northeast of town” and the department must [3:58] look for the smoke to locate the fire delaying their response time.
[4:03] 4. Use the fire extinguisher if you can easily reach the fire. [4:07] Do not climb onto burning machinery to put it out. [4:10] It is not worth the risk of the loss of your life or sever injury to save the machine.
[4:16] And finally 5. If a combine is beyond control, [4:19] focus on keeping it from spreading to the surrounding vegetation by either putting [4:23] a disc line around it or wetting down the surrounding area.
[4:26] Even with all the machine maintenance, sanitation, preparedness and awareness, [4:30] fires can still occur. [4:32] However, these steps will help to prevent a major disaster from occurring and help [4:36] reduce the total amount of loss experienced. [4:40] If you have questions regarding fire awareness and preparedness [4:43] please reach out to your contact your local fire department or your local [4:46] extension educator for more information. [4:49] This has been Amy Timmerman with Nebraska Extension.