A combine fire is a dangerous, potentially deadly situation, but there are some things you can do to prevent a fire and – should one break out – ways to protect yourself from danger.
- Clean your machine and keep it clean, especially around the engine.
- Check coolant and oil levels regularly.
- Check the pressurized oil supply line to the turbocharger for areas that rub and may start to leak.
- Get those leaves, chaff and other dry plant materials away from your engine.
- Watch exhaust or hot bearing surfaces and repair any leaking liquids.
- Keep areas around fuel lines and tank clean.
- Allow the engine to cool for at least 15 minutes before fueling.
- Watch the dry conditions and wind levels. Together, these two turn an already risky situation into a very dangerous one.
- Double check your fire extinguishers. Shake them once or twice a season and make sure they’re up-to-date.
If a fire breaks out…
If you see or smell smoke, or if a fire has started in your combine, STOP! Get out of and away from the equipment, then immediately call 911. The sooner they know you’re in trouble, the faster they can get to you.
Stay on the line with the operator, even if you have to set the phone down. Maintaining the connection to 911 can help responders locate you.
Provide operator with three points of reference, for instance, “The intersection of 100th Avenue and A Street, west half of the section, bottom of the hill.” Let them know about any road conditions or obstructions that could hinder their ability to reach you.
If the fire is out of control, retreat as far back from the equipment as possible to protect yourself in the event of an explosion. Tires, fuel tanks and fuel lines can all explode with immense force and without notice in the heat of a fire.
If you are safely able to use a fire extinguisher, attack the fire from the area that has already been burned and work your way toward the fire, staying back from the flames and using a sweeping motion toward the base of the fire. Advance only if the fire is receding.
Attempt to keep the fire from spreading to the crop being harvested but, if the crop does become involved, stay far back from the flames and await help.
If you have lost connection with the 911 operator, call back and provide updates on the scope of the fire, if it has spread and other information that might be essential to fire and rescue crews.