By JEFF BURBRINK
Extension Educator, Purdue Extension
GOSHEN — Crop residue and dust often accumulate on the cracks and crevices on combines, increasing the chance for fires.
A common place for combine fires to start is near exhaust systems, bearings, belts and pulleys where heat can build up or sparks can be thrown from seized bearings. If possible blow or power wash the chaff and dust from those pockets daily to decrease the risk of ignition.
With today’s large combines, it is suggested that you carry two fire extinguishers, one 10 pound ABC dry chemical extinguisher in the cab, and a larger one mounted on the outside of the machine, where it can be reached at ground level.
If a fire begins, have a plan! First, shut down the machine, grab the fire extinguisher, and get out of the cab. When you are safe, call 911 so that help is on the way, and only then try to suppress the fire.
If you open side panels where you suspect there might be a fire, be cautious. The opening of a panel door may introduce fresh air to the smoldering fire, and causing it to flare up into your face.
If the fire spreads to the field and you have tillage equipment handy, consider tilling a strip around that area to head the fire off.
Just remember safety first. Combines can be replaced. You cannot be.