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CFA issues warning to farmers cutting crops

  | CFA News & Media Views: 2967

Decent rainfall in some parts of Victoria has caused CFA to issue a warning to farmers cutting crops: take care or face potential catastrophe. 

CFA issues warning to farmers cutting crops

The warning comes as damning statistics reveal that CFA responds to more than 200 harvesting related fires every year.

CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said machinery fires can be avoided if farmers follow the correct practices.

“The key to avoiding harvester fires is diligence; farmers need to make sure they are thoroughly cleaning their machinery and inspecting it before use.

“Hot and dry days are a particular concern for CFA, - if it’s a high fire-risk day, our advice is to postpone work you are planning on doing in the paddock.

“During hot weather harvesting, grinding, welding, slashing or mowing can spark fires quite easily.”

Chief Officer Warrington also advised against driving vehicles and motorbikes through dry grass.

“The risk is that your car can heat up and ignite the dry grass underneath on those really hot days. This is incredibly dangerous and last season we saw cars and machinery sparking quite a few fires.

“High-risk heat days are the most concerning. When you’re thinking about your own wellbeing in the heat, make sure you’re also thinking about the ground around you.

“It should be part of any farmer’s routine to check for straw or grass build-ups in machinery, to maintain their spark arrestors, and to take regular breaks when operating machinery to ensure it doesn’t get too hot.

“Being fire safe on your farm should be part of any fire plan you have.”


Crop and Farm Machinery Fire Safety

  • The most common cause of harvester fires is material collecting on hot engine components such as the manifold, exhaust and turbocharger.
  • The key to avoiding harvester fires is diligence in clean-down and inspection.
  • Postpone paddock work during the highest fire-risk periods. On hot, dry days, exercise extreme caution before harvesting, grinding, welding, slashing or mowing.
  • Check the Fire Danger Rating against the Grain Harvesting Operations Guide before harvesting.
  • Check for total fire ban or severe weather warnings and current fire incidents and follow recommendations.
  • Avoid driving vehicles and motorbikes through dry grass or crop - the risk from the hot exhaust system is high. Driving vehicles with catalytic converters through dry grass and crops is particularly hazardous.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Make it part of your routine to check for straw or grass build-up, and hot bearings.
  • Check machinery to ensure that spark arrestors are maintained. 
  • Prepare a communication plan that includes family, contractors and neighbours.
  • Prepare strategic breaks to stop fires entering or leaving your property.
  • Run regular maintenance checks on farm machinery.
  • Monitor machinery regularly during operations.
  • Monitor weather conditions throughout the day and stop operations if it changes.
  • Have the appropriate firefighting equipment in place. You’re required by law, to have a 9-litre water pressured extinguisher on hand.
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