Avoid harvester fires

By Country News

Preparation to avoid harvester fires will be the focus of two Grains Research and Development Corporation technical workshops in Swan Hill and Kaniva.

The workshops will address a wide range of topics to ensure growers are prepared for the serious threat harvester fires pose, even after dry growing seasons.

Harvester fire specialist Ben White will be headlining the workshops, providing advice to growers on steps they can take to avoid harvester fires, including harvesting hygiene, equipment maintenance and harvester modifications.

‘‘Unfortunately, a low yielding season doesn’t mean growers won’t see harvester fires, and the worst thing would be for growers to get complacent and put themselves in danger,’’ he said.

Mr White recommends all growers develop a harvester fire plan as a critical part of harvest preparations.

‘‘The potential losses from a fire are enormous,’’ he said.

‘‘Harvester fires can burn through entire crops, farms, neighbourhoods and communities, causing infrastructure losses, serious burns or even result in fatalities,’’ he said.

About seven per cent of harvesters start a fire each year, in a range of crop types including cereals and pulses, so there is a chance that every grain grower will experience a harvester fire at some point.

Along with Mr White, representatives from the CFA, VFF, Country Fire Service, Grain Producers SA and the GRDC will share information on fire danger indexes, grain harvesting guidelines, fighting fires, and communication during a fire.

The workshops will be held at:

■Swan Hill on Tuesday, October 2 from 9am to 2pm at Swan Hill Football/Netball Club.

■Kaniva on Wednesday, October 3 from 9am to 2pm at Kaniva Community Hub.