Dry conditions and strong winds have contributed to several combine and field fires across the Midwest this harvest season.

Remember to clean and maintain your machines regularly because static electricity, which is generated as the combined moves through the field, can ignite the residue.  Use a pressure washer or a compressed air blowgun to thoroughly clean your machine.  Remove excess crop residue from rotating units.  Frequently blow leaves and chaff off the engine with compressed air or a portable leaf blower, and remove wrapped plant materials on or near bearings, belts or other moving parts.

Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension agricultural and biosystems engineer, offers additional tips to prevent combine fires:

  • At the beginning of each day, check engine fluid levels (such as coolant and oil).
  • Check the pressurized oil supply line to the turbocharger shaft for areas that may rub from wear and start an oil leak.
  • Examine exhaust or hot bearing surfaces.  Repair leaking fuel or oil hoses, fittings, or metal lines immediately.

If a fire does occur, CALL 911 FIRST.  Then attempt to extinguish the fire by pulling the pin on the fire extinguisher and squeezing the handles together.  Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire and sweep from side to side.  Remember P.A.S.S., which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.  For more tips on how to avoid and handle a combine fire, click here for a related Farm Journal article.