National Farm Safety & Health Week: Reduce Fire Risk with Machinery Maintenance

September 22, 2010 11:55 AM

This week is National Farm Safety & Health Week, taking place September 19 to 25. The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety leads the effort for the week, has been an annual promotion since 1944.

For 2010, the theme is ATVs: Work Smart. Ride Safe to highlight the safe operation of ATVs across the countryside. With harvest progressing across the countryside, take some time to consider the fire risk posed by combines in the field.

According to Purdue extension, there are 700 combine fires every year. Farmers can greatly reduce the risk of starting fires in the corn field with precautionary steps taken in the shop.


Purdue Extension farm safety expert Gail Deboy suggests these steps to minimize the potential for combine and field fires and better react if there is a fire:


·         Keep combines clean, free of crop residue, and free of fuel and oil leaks.

·         Regular inspection and maintenance of bearings, seals, potential crop wrap points and exhaust systems minimizes possible ignition points.

·         Service equipment at the end of the day, rather than at the beginning, to detect overheating components or smoldering material that could burst into flames overnight.

·         Maintain the electrical system. Keep a close eye on components that draw heavy electrical loads, such as starter motors, remote actuators, and heating and cooling systems. Consider fuses that blow regularly a warning sign that a circuit is overheating.

·         Install portable fire extinguishers on every large piece of machinery. Extinguishers should be approved for fire types A, B and C and be of suitable size for the potential fires that could occur. They also should be inspected and serviced regularly.

·         Keep a cell phone handy. Small field or machinery fires can be contained if emergency personnel can respond quickly.

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