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Combine harvesters

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Combine harvesters

Tips for farmers to help reduce the risk of fire breaking out during harvest.

In the 2021 harvest period NFU Mutual, the UK’s leading rural insurer, experienced a 35 per cent increase in the number of combine harvester fires. That is eight combine harvester fires a day!

A fire prevention checklist was issued this year (2022) with the aim of supporting farmers to avoid the damage and disruption caused by accidental combine harvester fires.

With new combine harvesters costing at least £250,000, and the fires having the potential to spread to standing and cut crops. these fires can have a devastating impact on farmers.

The hot, dusty nature of harvesting, as well as moving machinery parts are conditions where the risk of a fire to happen are increased. Add to that a tank of diesel and the results can be devastating!

We’ve put together some simple safety tips which can help reduce this risk.

What TO Do

  • Regularly clean out dust and chaff from hot spots and check the machine over when you finish use for the day. Bear in mind that with long hours worked during the harvest period, this could be more than once a day.
  • Use a mobile compressor (or a fixed one if fitted to the combine) to regularly blow away debris from the machine, but only do so if the exit pressure is reduced (as a guide 30psi/2.1 bar is effective at cleaning).
  • Always stop to investigate hot-running engines or bearings.
  • Have a plan in place in the event of fire including a system for keeping in contact with lone workers and anyone working or living on farm.
  • Keep mobile phones with you at all times – it’s no use to you if it’s left in a tractor or pickup cab.
  • Ensure drivers are aware of the locations and heights of power lines and check that you will safely pass under wires.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on the combine that is regularly maintained.
  • Keep a bowser filled with water on hand, and be prepared to create a fire break in the event of a crop fire.

What NOT To Do

  • Do not leave a mobile phone in a cab or trailer where it is not accessible.
  • Do not ignore the warning signs of overheating.
  • Do not attempt to clear blockages without turning the engine off and checking that all moving parts have stopped.

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