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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Meeker > County Agriculture Educator > Articles > Prevent Combine Fires

Prevent Combine Fires

Source: Dan Martens, Extension Educator, UMN Extension

Corn grain harvest is well underway farther south in the U.S.  In doing an Internet search about preventing combine fires, I came across an article from Ohio, posted by County Extension Educator Rory Lewandowski, a Benton County MN native.

Rory writes that there have been several accounts of combine fires in Ohio already this year. He listed the following suggestions from Extension colleagues in South Dakota and Michigan. So it seems, combine fires are not an unusual event; and something everyone wants to avoid. Many of these concepts are useful for trucks, tractors, choppers, and other harvest equipment.

  • Keep the combine as clean as possible. During harvest, frequently blow dry chaff, leaves and other crop materials off the machine. Remove any materials that have wrapped around bearings, belts and other moving parts. Be sure to check pockets that house wires or lights and where chaff accumulates.
  • Keep wiring and fuses in proper working condition.  Check wiring and insulation for rodent damage and replace as needed.
  • Keep fittings greased and watch for overheated bearings.
  • Use a ground chain attached to the combine frame to prevent static charges from igniting dry chaff and harvest residue, letting the chain drag on the ground while in the field.
  • Prior to fueling a hot combine, wait 15 minutes to reduce the risk of a spill volatilizing and igniting.
  • Don’t park a hot combine in the shed or shop. After a long day of harvesting, smoldering hot spots may be present in the combine. If those spots suddenly flare up, at least you won’t lose the building!
  • Keep at least one fully-charged, 10-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher with an Underwriter’s Laboratory approval in the combine cab.
  • Mount a second, larger fire extinguisher on the outside of the machine at a height easily reached from ground level.
  • Have a plan if a fire starts. Turn off the engine. Get the fire extinguisher and your phone. Get out and get help.
  • Stay a safe distance away.
  • Call 911 before beginning to extinguish the fire.
  • Approach the fire with extreme caution. Small fires can flare up quickly with the addition of air (by opening doors or hatches). Beware of potential for fuel to ignite and engulf someone who is trying to put out the fire.
  • Preventive maintenance before harvest starts can pay dividends as well a regular maintenance during the harvest season.

PLEASE WORK TOWARD A SAFE HARVEST SEASON.

Contacts

Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
marte011@umn.edu
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