Equipment fires and prevention for equipment fires should be a management practice that farmers always keep in mind. However, given the drought conditions and lack of rainfall the region has been seeing, the chances of equipment fires rise as the ground continues to get more dry each day, making preventative measures more important than ever.
“The extremely dry conditions that we are seeing right now are not helping with equipment fires,” said Emily Krekelberg, University of Minnesota Extension farm safety and health educator. “We certainly are seeing more machinery fires.”
According to Krekelberg, many equipment fires occur due to improper cleaning practices or the equipment not being cleaned at all. With poor or no cleaning, residue and dry matter can build up, all of which is easily flammable. While it is important to pay attention to all equipment and maintain it all to the best of abilities, certain machinery is at a higher risk of catching on fire.
“Balers are a big one. They are processing an already dry and easily flammable product,” Krekelberg said. “The residue is dry and they (the producers) heat it up and it can very easily ignite.”
In terms of fire prevention on a baler, producers are encouraged to get all the dry matter off of the baler every 50 to 75 bales. They can accomplish this by using an air compressor or simply sweeping off the baler.
However, one of the easiest things that farmers can do is a visual assessment of the equipment before they put the baler to use. This quick assessment could allow them to see a problem that would have gone unnoticed without their visual check. While completing this process, producers should check their baler’s chains, bearings, belts and hoses. In addition, they should keep an eye out for net wrap or twine used to contain bales that are wrapping around the rollers when in action.
Farmers should also refrain from smoking when using their equipment and make sure that nothing is dragging on their equipment as well, sending up sparks as it is being transported or used.
Preventive measures for equipment fires do not have to be difficult, according to Krekelberg. Keeping up on maintenance of the equipment and keeping it clean will greatly reduce the chances of equipment sending itself up in flames.
“The maintenance piece of equipment is what it all comes down to,” Krekelberg said.