Tips for Preventing Combine Fires
Posted: January 28, 2016
Combine owners have invested heavily in the purchase, maintenance and storage of this important piece of farm machinery. And since a combine fire can result in a significant financial loss, owners should be constantly monitoring the machine for timely maintenance functions that can reduce the risk of a costly fire.
- Conduct a thorough inspection of the combine prior to the start of the fall harvest. Make sure that you consult the owner’s manual on proper inspections and cleaning.
- During inspections and cleanings, make sure the engine is shut off, the parking brake is set, and the key has been removed from the ignition.
- Know your machine well, and make sure you focus on cleaning areas that collect unnoticed debris, chaff and straw. Also check those operating areas where temperatures are likely to be elevated, such as around the engine compartment.
- Inspect the fire extinguishers that are located or mounted on the combine to ensure that they are fully charged. Two 10-pound, ABC-type extinguishers are recommended, with one located near the operator’s cab and another readily available from ground level.
- During periods of heavy use during harvest, take a few moments during each day to remove accumulated crop material and debris. Dry, hot and windy conditions can add to the accumulation of debris; so be diligent about daily (and/or multiple) inspections.
- Some crops are known to be “sticky,” such as canola and sunflowers. Since they tend to adhere to the machine, remove the excess crop material that could cause increased heat-and ultimately a combine fire.
- During harvesting activities with a farm combine or any farm equipment, carry a cell phone to report emergencies if they occur. It’s important to provide responders and others who are coming to your aid to have a complete set of directions to find your location. Don’t disconnect responders until they are aware of your location and the nature of the emergency.
Consult your combine’s owner’s manual for a complete listing of maintenance duties to reduce the level of risk for a fire or other hazardous condition.
Adapted from the article “Combine Fires” by Robert “Chip” Petrea, PhD, Principal Research Specialist, Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.