Farm tractors in corn field

Prevent Combine and Tractor Fires During Harvest Season

By Carrie Skogsberg

Reviewed by Brian McCormick, Senior Farm Underwriter

Harvest season is a crucial time for farmers as they work day and night against many odds like weather and equipment breakdowns. It’s also a time when the risk of combine and tractor fires is at its peak.

Fires can result in significant damage or loss to valuable equipment and time in the field. Additionally, these incidents pose a significant safety threat to operators and their surroundings. Taking extra precautions to prevent fires can ensure a safe and successful harvest. Try our equipment fire prevention tips:

1. Perform regular maintenance on your equipment.

The foundation of fire prevention during harvest season begins with regular maintenance.

  • Inspect your combines and tractors before harvest season starts and each day they’re used, checking for any signs of wear and tear.
  • Replace damaged wiring, belts, and hoses, and ensure that all electrical components are in good working condition.
  • Routine maintenance can identify potential issues before they become serious problems.

2. Keep equipment clean.

Harvesting often involves working with dry and flammable materials such as straw, chaff, and dust. These materials can accumulate in and around your equipment, creating a fire hazard. To minimize this risk:

  • Clean your combines and tractors daily, paying particular attention to the engine and exhaust areas.
  • Use air compressors or blowers to remove debris from hard-to-reach spots.
  • Ensure that all access panels and hatches are securely closed to prevent debris from entering the engine or exhaust systems.

3. Practice safe refueling

  • When refueling your combines and tractors, always turn off the engine and allow it to cool before adding fuel.
  • Keep a safe distance from the fuel source to avoid accidental spills and ignition.
  • Store fuel in approved containers, away from heat sources.

4. Check electrical wiring and connections

Faulty electrical wiring and connections are common causes of fires in agricultural equipment. To reduce this risk:

  • Routinely inspect wiring and connections for frayed wires, loose connections, or exposed components.
  • Replace damaged or worn wires immediately.
  • Use electrical components designed for agricultural use.

5. Always carry fire extinguishers

  • Ensure that your equipment is equipped with the proper fire extinguishers and that they are easily accessible.
  • Regularly check the extinguishers to ensure they are in good working order, and train operators on how to use them effectively.

6. Monitor temperature and heat

Harvest season can bring scorching temperatures, which can increase the risk of fires due to overheating. To mitigate this risk:

  • Monitor temperature gauges and engine heat closely during operation.
  • Install heat shields and insulating materials where necessary to protect vulnerable components.

7. Establish no smoking zones

  • Create a strict no-smoking policy around your agricultural equipment and storage areas.
  • Smoking materials can easily ignite dry crops or fuel spills, so create designated smoking areas far from the machinery.

8. Educate and train employees

  • Ensure that all operators are well-trained in fire prevention and safety measures and how to properly operate each piece of equipment.
  • Make sure they are aware of the risks and know how to respond in case of a fire emergency. Conduct regular safety meetings to reinforce best practices.

If you have a fire, after making sure no one is injured, file a farm claim and take steps to mitigate further damage to equipment, property and crops.


Update 10-4-23

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