Preventing an unwanted baler fire

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Current dry conditions make field fires a very real concern. Tracey Erickson, SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist encourages folks to conduct maintenance checks before heading to the hay field to reduce the risk of fire.

“Dry conditions this year have reminded many how quickly fires can ignite causing damage, destroying equipment, future feedstuffs and potentially putting lives at risk,” Erickson said. “Prevention and maintenance only takes a few minutes versus trying to recover from a catastrophic loss caused by a potentially avoidable fire.”

Baler maintenance

• Remove any trash or plant material accumulation on the baler and take time to blow off dust, leaves, and dry stems.

• Keep the baler free and clean of oil, grease or hydraulic fluid accumulation, which also attracts and holds dust while baling and is highly ignitable.

• Carry an ABC fire extinguisher on the baler or in your tractor at all times. An ABC-rating on fire extinguishers means that it is rated to control the following: “A”-Trash, Wood, Paper; “B”-Liquids; “C” – Electrical.

Make the extinguisher easy to access and check it to make sure it is still adequately charged with fire retardant and is not beyond its expiration date.

• Carry a minimum of 4 gallons of water to use if a fire would ignite.

• It is also recommended to have a shovel or spade with you to throw dirt on a fire or pat out the “hot” spots.

• Take time to inspect all moving parts for wear or friction before heading out to bale.

• Do not over fill the fuel tank as the overflow of fuel can have a potential to become ignited. These spills should be cleaned up immediately.

Shut off the engine and electrical equipment while filling the fuel tank. The fuel nozzle should be grounded against the filler neck to avoid sparks.

• Immediately repair any hydraulic or fuel leaks and clean up any spills. Hydraulic fluid is flammable.

• If welding repairs are required, take care not to weld near pipes, tubes or hoses filled with flammable fluid such as gas, oil or hydraulic oil.

• Do not smoke near the baler or tractor as this adds to the potential for a spark to cause a fire ignition.

• Carry a charged cell phone with you to make an emergency call if necessary.

• Be able to give directions to your location in an emergency situation.

• Communicate with others where you will be working so that you can be located in case an emergency situation would arise.