"It's not unusual for millions of dollars of combine losses throughout the idwest when conditions are dry. Fuel sources, such as leaves, stalks, husks, dust, oil and fuel and ignition sources, including exhaust, bearings and electrical wiring, are always present when harvesting fields."
Combine operators should carry two class ABC fire extinguishers: a smaller 10-lb. unit in the cab and a larger 20-lb. extinguisher at ground level on the combine. Invert the extinguishers once or twice a season and shake them to ensure that powder inside the extinguisher hasn't been compacted together by machine bibrations. A shovel to scoop dirt on a fire and a cellular phone to call the fire department immediately also are useful tools.
To prevent combine fires, Hanna advises operators to follow these precautions.
*Check engine fluid levels (such as coolant and oil) at the beginning of each day.
*Blow leaves, dust and chaff off the engine if compressed air is available. Older combines with front engine compartments can be particularly susceptible to collecting debris.
*Examine exhaust or hot bearing surfaces because they can be ignition sources for dry, combustible material.
*Check the pressurized oil supply line to the turbocharger shaft for areas that may rub from wear and start and oil leak.
"Field fires are sometimes started with the passing of a truck. Flames may not be notices for 15 to 30 minutes or longer. Don't allow extra truck traffic through the field when conditions for fire are favorable," Hanna said.