Tractor and Combine Fire Safety

fire extinguisher in a tractor

Tractor and Combine Fire Safety

Once again, harvest season is upon us. That means getting up early, leaving late, and reaping the benefits of all the hard work you put in this season. With all that in mind, it is important to remember the dangers of the harvest season, the major one being fires.

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Tractor and combine fires are a major danger for farmers’ lives and livelihoods. A fire can happen in early morning or midnight and any time in between.

Tractor and Combine Fire Prevention Tips

To help you prevent and combat tractor and combine fires, we have these recommendations:

  • Keep your tractor and combine clean – and clean it often! Fires are often caused by debris clogging up parts in the machinery. To combat this, make sure you clean hard to reach places to prevent build up. Clean multiple times if necessary!
  • Consistently check equipment systems. Electrical wires can get worn; tubes and hoses can crack. It’s important that you check and replace any worn or damaged parts as soon as possible.
  • Make sure your cooling systems and lubrication schedules are consistent and maintained.
  • Always keep fire extinguishers in your tractor or combine. We recommend you have an automatic extinguisher (an automatic fire suppression system) installed, in addition to a fire extinguisher in the cab, near the engine, and the back of your combine or tractor. This is great for fire protection, and there is often the added bonus that some insurance companies will even give benefits to people who have fire extinguishers on their equipment.
    • Make sure you refill fire extinguishers after you use them. A fire extinguisher does no good if it’s empty, and you never know how big your next fire will be. So, it’s best to be fully prepared with a refillable fire extinguisher .

Tractor and Combine Fire Control Tips

Even with the most preventative measures, fires can still happen, and it’s important to know what to do in case one ignites. The most likely places for fires to ignite are in the engine – usually caused by debris – and by any belts or pulleys that have moving parts, which can break off or become dislodged.

In the event of a fire:

  • Shut down your machine and close any fuel valves if you can. If you have a manual fire extinguisher in your cab, set it off. If not, exit and do not re-enter the cab.
  • Call 9-1-1. In rural areas, it can take a fire department 30+ minutes to arrive at the scene of a fire. Don’t wait for your fire to get out of control before calling 9-1-1.
  • If the fire is small, use a fire extinguisher to put it out:
    • Try not to open any doors or compartments, as it could cause the fire to grow by allowing fresh oxygen into the compartment.
    • Shoot the fire extinguisher agent into small openings near the base of the fire to put it out.
    • Be prepared for the fire to reignite. Fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to live. If the machine is still hot after a fire, the risk that the fire could reignite still exists. Never turn your back on a small fire, even if it looks as if it out. Be prepared in case it flashes again.
    • Allow time for the tractor or combine to cool down, especially where the fire is, before getting back to work. After a few minutes of cool-down time, check to determine where the fire started and if any additional damage was caused.

Above all else, remember that no piece of equipment is worth your life. If the fire is unable to be contained, do not try to contain it. You are worth more than the equipment.