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Farmers warned of machinery fire risk

30 August 2022

ARDENT HAS issued a warning to farmers following a surge in machinery fires as a result of the ongoing heatwave.

The extreme heat and dry conditions experienced by the country throughout July and August have seen a dramatic increase in combine harvester fires. Ardent warns that the combination of grain dust and other debris, extreme heat from moving parts and electrical components, and combustible fuel presents a severe fire risk in hot weather.

Managing director of Ardent Neil Crowther said, “We would recommend farmers continue to take extra steps to maintain their machinery in the immediate aftermath of the heatwave, particularly in the case of combines and tractors. The hot, dry conditions make it much more likely a fire will break out as dust and other debris can clog hot components like particulate filters and torque converters. Where there is extreme heat, there is always an increased risk of ignition occurring.

“Of course, if a fire is allowed to spread, it can put farm workers and millions of pounds worth of assets and crops at risk. When drought is already affecting crop yields, we recommend farmers take every reasonable step to protect against fires.”

Farming insurers NFU Mutual reported a 35% increase in combine fire claims during 2021’s harvest. Following a swathe of reports of combine fires during this summer’s heatwave, the insurer began offering a discount for farmers who fit approved fire suppression systems to their equipment.

Crowther added, “An automatic fire detection and suppression solution should be seen as essential, as it is clear extreme heatwaves are going to continue to be a factor in future harvests. Even with regular maintenance, the risk of a fire breaking out never goes away. An automatic suppression system will target fire at the point of ignition as soon as it breaks out, dramatically reducing the damage it can cause.

“However, fire suppression systems are not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works on a static machine may not be appropriate for a tractor, for example. We would advise farmers to get in touch with an expert like Ardent – we arrange an on-site visit for bespoke technical support before every installation to make sure the right system and suppression agent are matched with the right machine.”