Preventing an Unwanted Baler Fire

August 16, 2017 07:46 AM

Dry conditions this year in the Northern Plains have reminded many how quickly fires can ignite causing damage, destroying equipment, future feedstuffs and hopefully NOT injuring you in the process. We need to be cognizant at all times of the potential for fires to start while baling hay or straw and take measures to minimize the potential of a fire occurring.

Baler Maintenance Checklist

Before you head out to bale take the time to do the following maintenance checks on your baler with the objective of fire prevention:

  • Remove any trash or plant material accumulation on the baler and take time to blow off dust, leaves, and dry stems.
  • Keep the baler free and clean of oil, grease or hydraulic fluid accumulation, which also attracts and holds dust while baling and is highly ignitable.
  • Carry an “ABC” fire extinguisher on the baler or in your tractor at all times. Make it easily accessible and check it to make sure it is still adequately charged with fire retardant and not beyond its expiration date. (An “ABC” rating on fire extinguishers means that it is rated to control “A”-Trash, Wood, Paper; “B”-Liquids; “C” – Electrical).
  • Carry a minimum of 4 gallons of water to use if a fire would ignite.
  • It is also recommended to have a shovel or spade with you to throw dirt on a fire or pat out the “hot” spots.
  • Take time to inspect all moving parts for wear or friction before heading out to bale.
  • Do not over fill the fuel tank as the overflow of fuel can have a potential to become ignited. These spills should be cleaned up immediately. Shut off the engine and electrical equipment while filling the fuel tank. The fuel nozzle should be grounded against the filler neck to avoid sparks.
  • Immediately repair any hydraulic or fuel leaks and clean up any spills. Hydraulic fluid is flammable.
  • If welding repairs are required, take care not to weld near pipes, tubes or hoses filled with flammable fluid such as gas, oil or hydraulic oil.
  • Do not smoke near the baler or tractor as this adds to the potential for a spark to cause a fire ignition.
  • Carry a charged cell phone with you to make an emergency call if necessary.
  • Be able to give directions to your location in an emergency situation.

Other Considerations

Lastly, make sure that you communicate with others where you will be working so that they also will know where to locate you if an emergency situation would arise. Prevention and maintenance only takes a few minutes versus trying to recover from a catastrophic loss caused by a potentially avoidable fire.

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Spell Check

Garland terry
Chickasha, OK
8/25/2017 11:51 AM

  Ditto Bob Chambers. We bale a lot of hay. In bad conditions. We replace bearings and chains every 5000 bales. This was learned the hard way. As well as all the things the author listed. When purchasing an ABC extinguisher get a 10 pounder 20 is better. And shoot till its gone. You have to recharge it after any use so use it up.

john hayes
iron city, TN
11/22/2017 08:40 AM

  most baler companys recommend pressurized water fire extinguishers. mount one on the baler and one on the tractor and pray you never need to use them. i use an infrared thermometer for checking heat in bearings. run the baler an hour and check for heat in bearings. about $20 at lowes or home depot.

Bob Chambers
Elburn, IL
8/16/2017 11:01 AM

  As opposed to a "wanted" baler fire? I would think any kind of equipment fire would be "unwanted". Better headline could be "How to prevent baler fires"


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