Farming: Insurers warn of combine fires risk
The warning, issued by rural insurers, NFU Mutual follows a 35 per cent increase in the number of combine fire claims during the 2021 harvest. And along with a newly produced fire prevention checklist, the insurers said they were providing premium discounts to farmers who fitted approved fire suppression systems to their combines.
“Working long hours in dusty conditions means regular cleaning and maintenance is essential to reduce the risk of a fire,” said Evita van Gestel of the insurers Risk Management Services Ltd.
“Together, dust, hot moving parts, lots of electrical wiring and a tank full of diesel provide all the ingredients for a major fire.”
She said that not only could combine fires put lives at risk, they could spread into crops and threaten surrounding buildings:
“So this is about far more than the loss of a machine and disruption at the busiest time of year.”
The checklist includes ensuring that maintenance and servicing is up to date, the fitting of fire suppression kits, regularly cleaning dust and chaff from hotspots, blowing out engine bays and other areas with compressed air, and having a plan should things go wrong.
Other advice included keeping a regularly maintained fire extinguisher on the combine, having a bowser of water on hand, using the What3Words App to guide emergency services and ensuring staff had sufficient breaks and were exhibiting no signs of fatigue, stress and mental ill health symptoms.
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