Prevent Colo. Baler Fires in Dry Conditions
The Prevention of Colorado Baler Fires
If you’ve been in agriculture long enough, you are guaranteed to have heard horror stories about baler fires. In the blink of an eye, an overheated baler can produce a spark that can cause almost an entire season’s time, effort and money to literally go up in flames. And with the current dry conditions here in Colorado, it is wise to take active efforts to be safe.
What causes baler fires? And what can you do to prevent them? At Fit Turf, we’ve compiled some best practices and safety tips to minimize the danger of a baler fire on your property.
What Causes Baler Fires?
Baler fires are most often caused by a mechanical issue — specifically, mechanical issues that cause some sort of friction, such as faulty or worn bearings or a belt that has loosened. A quick inspection before using your baler (or other equipment) can provide clues about the condition of the equipment, as well as the bearings’ wear.
One way to minimize the mechanical issues from occurring in the first place is to keep up with baler maintenance. Keeping a baler free from grease, hydraulic fluid and oil. These are all highly flammable materials that can quickly cause your crop to go up in flames. Also, remove any trash or plant materials: Take the time to blow off dry stems, dust, leaves and any other flammable organic material that could act as kindling.
Baler Safety First
Always keep an ABC fire extinguisher (which means its rated to control “A”: Trash, Wood, Paper; “B”: Liquids; and “C”: Electrical) in an easy-to-access spot on your tractor or your baler. It’s also important to ensure that the extinguisher is adequately charged with fire retardant and it is not beyond its expiration date. It’s important to not overfill the fuel tank: fuel overflow can ignite. Any fuel spills should be immediately cleaned.
Other baler safety tips for baler use in dry conditions include:
- Do not smoke near a baler or a tractor
- Carry a cell phone in case an emergency call is necessary
- Let others know where you are at all times
- Carry a minimum of four gallons of water with you on your field runs in case a fire should erupt
- Shut off the engine while fueling to avoid sparks
By initiating safety measures and being smart about equipment use, you can minimize or eliminate your risk for baler fires this season.