Reducing harvest fires: The Back Pocket Guide

Published: 1 Nov 2017

Harvester fires can not only damage or destroy machinery but can also cause considerable damage to surrounding crops and properties and endanger life.


  • All harvesters are prone to fire but crop and machine losses can be minimised with hygiene, inspection and maintenance.
  • Bearings, hydraulic lines and belts need to be closely monitored and the harvester should be kept free of dust and chaff accumulation.
  • According to Kondinin Group research, on average annually, around 7% of harvesters will start a fire. Of these, one in ten will cause significant damage to the machine or surrounding crop.
  • If you detect a fire, face the harvester into the wind and evacuate promptly.
  • The benefits extend further than reducing the fire risk. A more pro-active maintenance and inspection programme will help reduce machinery downtime and prevent an expensive repair bill.
  • Identifying problem areas with individual harvester makes and models is essential for controlling the fire risk. While some machines are more prone than others it pays to talk to dealers and other farmers using similar machines for advice.
  • Areas of increased risk include dust trap areas, rubbing or slipping belts or failure-prone bearings and should be checked more regularly.
  • From the operator’s seat in the cabin it can be difficult to detect the early stages of a fire and smell smoke.
  • Keep all communication lines open, as other operators such as chaser bin drivers can alert the harvester driver if a problem occurs.

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