Preventing Farm Equipment Fires

 
  From the September 18, 2017 Issue of Agri-News
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 Over the past five years, the agriculture industry has been the cause of nearly 260 wildfires, which have burned almost 3,000 hectares of Alberta farmland in the Forest Protection Area. With harvest season here, it’s vital to do what you can to prevent wildfires on your land.

“It’s important to check your farm equipment often as buildup such as crop residue has led to a number of preventable wildfires in Alberta,” says Patrick Loewen, director, wildfire prevention section, Agriculture and Forestry. “Take the time to check equipment for fire hazards including debris and buildup on the engine, exhaust system, belts and chains.”

Perform regular maintenance on farm equipment to greatly reduce the risk of wildfire. Make sure you are operating equipment in a safe and responsible manner. A spark from friction on a rock can smoulder and start a wildfire in fields and ditches along roadways. Always keep an eye on your surroundings to prevent a wildfire from spreading.

“Fires from agricultural equipment are not uncommon. If a fire occurs, having a fire extinguisher on hand to put it out is well worth it. The cost of a fire extinguisher is small compared to the replacement of equipment or the cost of fighting a wildfire.”

Here are some steps you can take to lower the risk of wildfire on your property. Check for fire hazards before starting work each day, like:

  • Any buildup of crop residue around the engine, exhaust system, belts and chains.
  • Damaged exhaust components.
  • Worn or frayed belts.
  • Signs of leaking fluids, oils and fuels.
Combines and balers can present different types of problems unique to your operation. Operators should check for:
  • Buildup of combustible crop residue around the engine and exhaust system.
  • Concealed drive belts and pulleys that can contribute to the accumulation of crop residue that can overheat due to friction.
Regular maintenance is the key to preventing many of the wildfires which occur from agricultural equipment. Remember to:
  • Keep bearings and gears well lubricated to prevent buildup.
  • Remove crop residue from areas prone to generate normal heat.
  • Replace worn and broken belts as soon as they are discovered.
  • Keep lubricants at proper levels.
  • Repair or replace damaged or worn out exhaust systems. In addition to a good exhaust system, a spark arrester can be installed to catch burning particles.
  • Repair damaged electrical wiring.
Vehicle safety is also something to keep in mind come harvest season:
  • Manifolds and exhausts can easily reach temperatures in excess of 250 degrees Celsius, which can ignite dry grass within minutes.
  • Vehicles with low ground clearance are especially prone to causing wildfires, especially in areas with tall vegetation.
Following these steps will help to ensure that your family and your farm remain safe from the threat of wildfire. For more information on steps you can take to reduce your risk of wildfire, visit FireSmart.Alberta.ca

Contact:
Alberta Ag-Info Centre
310-FARM (3276)
 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Patrick Loewen.
This document is maintained by Ken Blackley.
This information published to the web on September 7, 2017.