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Call to instal systems to combat combine fires

BLAZE RISK: NFU Mutual is appealing to farmers to fit fire suppression systems after a rise in claims over fire damage.

The farm insurer, NFU Mutual is appealing to the industry to fit fire suppression systems to combines after dealing with claims for 124 combine fires in 2021.

The figure was up 35% from the previous year and included 10 claims of more than £100,000 each.

The insurer says suppression systems not only reduce the risks to workers, but could also avoid costly harvest disruption as the supply of spare parts and replacement machines has been disrupted in the wake of Brexit, Covid and now the conflict in Ukraine.

NFU Mutual offers premium discounts for farmers who fit recommended devices such as the P-Mark accredited fire suppression system which automatically triggers extinguishers if a small fire is detected in the combine.

Bob Henderson from the insurer’s agricultural engineering team said: “Modern combines are large and complex, so an unchecked fire can easily lead to a huge blaze which puts lives at risk, and can easily spread through dry crops and even engulf property and neighbouring fields.

Farmers are  advised to have a plan in place in the event of fire.

“Suppression systems significantly reduce the risk of serious combine fires, and we urge farmers to fit them.”

The P-mark approved suppression kits involve dual agent systems which have two cylinders, one with powder and the other with a foam. The powder acts by interrupting the chemical reaction taking place and cutting off the oxygen supply. The foam suppressing agent in the second cylinder rapidly cools super-hot surfaces of over 200°C in larger engine bays which also hold turbo chargers and filters.

A live demonstration of a Fireward P-Mark approved system can be seen by visiting
www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJAlQzP71Sk

NFU Mutual tips to prevent fire this harvest include cleaning out dust and chaff from hot spots in combines and balers and checking the machine over after use, always stopping to investigate hot-running engines or bearings, ensuring there is a fire extinguisher on the combine that is regularly maintained and knowing the nearest water source.

Farmers are also advised to have a plan in place in the event of fire, including a system for keeping in contact with lone workers.

NFU Mutual is warning about the dangers of combine fires and advising that suppression kits should be fitted .

Other safety recommendations include not leaving a mobile phone in a tractor or pickup cab but keeping it close at all times, and making sure drivers are aware of the locations and heights of power lines and checking that machinery will safely pass under wires.

Safety advice in the yard includes keeping children away from working areas and checking signs are in place to direct lorry drivers go to the right place, and alerting members of the public to any potential hazards.

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