Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Harvest time fire safety reminders

Kari Lewis, MSU Extension - Glacier County

This week’s weather forecast is very concerning as related to our potential fire danger.  With harvest starting, I wanted to review a few points related to fire safety and using a fire extinguisher. 

For those out in the fields, make sure to conduct a thorough inspection of equipment prior to starting, and grease and oil as needed.  The owner’s manual should be consulted for instructions on proper inspections and cleaning.  Chaff and debris should be cleaned from the equipment regularly, and even more so in windy or especially dry field conditions. 

As vehicles enter the field, watch closely for potential fires and certainly keep vehicles on roads and trails as much as possible.  Make sure to have an easily accessible bulk water tank available at the field, and shovels on the vehicles as well.  There should be fire extinguisher available and everyone should be trained as to how to use them. 
As harvest begins, make sure to give farmers a little extra space
on the roads.  Photo by Kari Lewis.

In terms of carrying a fire extinguisher, it is recommended that there be two ABC-type extinguishers – one in the cab and one at ground level, on combines, and for tractors and other vehicles to have at least one ABC-type extinguisher available. 

The fire extinguishers should be ready and fully charged for use, and all operators should know how to use them.  It’s worth the time to review how to use a fire extinguisher and your other fire safety protocols with any seasonal haying or harvest help you may have, especially any youth workers as well.  The PASS acronym is suggested for using any portable fire extinguisher.  PASS stands for:

P – Pull the pin in the fire extinguisher handle, which allows you to squeeze the handle and release the extinguishing agent.
A – Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. If the spray is not directed at the base, then the chance of extinguishing the fire is lost.
S – Squeeze the handle firmly to start the flow of extinguishing agent. Starting and stopping extinguishing agent flow is controlled by squeezing the handle.
S – Sweep the fire extinguisher back and forth – not too fast or too slowly because it does make a difference in how effective you’ll be in extinguishing the fire.

Again, PASS is P-Pull the Pin, A-Aim at the base, S – Squeeze the handle firmly, and S-Sweep extinguisher back and forth.

Portable fire extinguishers only last a few minutes so the time to control the fire is limited. Always
remember that no equipment is worth sacrificing your life over, and to call for professional help as soon as possible if needed. 

Lastly, for those of us who aren’t out harvesting, remember to give those farmers and truck drivers a little extra room on the corners and space on the roads during this harvest season.  They will be putting in lots of long hours, and courteous drivers who are willing to give them a little extra space will be much appreciated. 

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