Many fires break out on agricultural farms during the dry season when the annual harvest of crops is underway. The majority of these fires could be prevented by following a few simple guidelines. Keep your farm and your neighbours' properties safe this bushfire season by following the advice given below.
Fire prevention tips during harvest time
Before you start, move all your firefighting kit to the fields you're going to be working in. Make sure that extinguishers, hoses etc are all in good condition and ready for use.
Harvesting machinery and headers have many moving parts that become extremely hot when in use. Exhausts, bearings, turbochargers, electrical circuitry, and drive belts can all become ignition points if not kept clean and clear of potential tinder such as dust, chaff, and leaking fuel. Before you fire up your machine for the day's work and when you've finished, use a mini-compressor to blow any loose tinder sources away from these areas and check for fuel leaks.
Make sure that all your machines are serviced regularly throughout the season. On a daily basis make sure that all your brake linkages and drums are clean, and make any necessary adjustments to the tension of chains and belts to avoid overheating. If you smell something becoming very hot or burning while you're working, stop immediately, move to bare ground and switch off your machine.
When you need to refuel, always do so on areas of bare, stony ground or on firebreaks. If any fuel is spilt, always wash it off immediately; oil and fuel is sticky and can collect dust and fragments of straw, which could catch fire.
When you've finished work for the day, always isolate the power to the machinery that's been in use. Never park your header on an area that still has crop or chaff laying around on it; choose a clear area or firebreak instead. Crop fires can ignite from hot catalytic converters and exhaust systems so be sure to leave cars and trucks on bare ground while you carry out your post-work fire prevention checks.
Static electricity is a common ignition source that can be caused by the movement of machinery across the ground. You can help to prevent this by fitting a metal chain to your machine so that it drags along the ground as you work.
You can help to prevent bushfires from starting during harvest season by following the helpful tips and advice given above. For more information and advice on how to harvest safely, have a chat with your local fire department.