In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
In The Shop: Avoiding Disappointment
Oct 03, 2010
This blog post falls under the "Duh!" category, but...don't forget to check fire extinguishers on combines and harvest equipment before going to the field.
The "charges" in dry-charged fire extinguishers do not last forever. We have the dry-charged fire extinguishers in our shops checked semi-annually, and many of them need re-charged even though they've never been used. And any fire extinguisher that has been used--even if only a "spurt" or two to put out a small shop fire--must be recharged.
Some equipment manufacturers offer or factory-install water-charged fire extinquishers on farm equipment, especially hay balers and combines. These large, chromed extinguishers are shipped empty from the manufacturer and must be filled with water then pressurized with air before they're ready to use. They are shipped empty because they will freeze once they're filled with water, if outside temperatures fall below freezing. Owners must either empty water-charged fire extinguishers exposed to freezing temperature, or add antifreeze.
DO NOT USE automotive antifreeze, RV antifreeze or windshield wiper fluid in water-charged fire extinguishers. Those products contain forms of alcohol or flammable fluids as their antifreeze, and could increase any fire to which they are applied.
There are products available through local fire departments or fire department supply retailers that can safely protect water-charged fire extinguishers from freezing. The products cost around $40 per 2 1/2-gallon fire extinguisher. That sounds pricey to fill a fire extinguisher, but is actually pretty cheap compared to the cost of a $200,000 combine.