Crop Harvest Fire Prevention Checklist (AE1991, Oct. 2020)

Fire prevention checklist for combine operators.

John Nowatzki, Ag Machine Systems Specialist, Extension Agriculture and Biosystem Engineering

Angie Johnson, Extension Agent, Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources; Ken Hellevang, Professor/Agriculture Engineer, Extension Agriculture and Biosystem Engineering

Availability: Web only



Vehicles on roadway, not in fields

Fire Prevention

  1. Park trucks, pickups and cars in a place with minimal vegetation because hot exhaust emitted from equipment can start a fire. Avoid parking hot machinery on or near dry grass or other dry vegetation.
  2. Repair any leaks in the fuel system and any damaged electrical wiring.
  3. Repair or replace damaged or worn out exhaust systems.
  4. Never refuel equipment with the engine running. Allow hot engines to cool 15 minutes before refueling.
  5. Invert and shake extinguishers regularly to ensure machine vibrations don’t compact the powder inside.


  1. Chaff and debris will build up on hot vehicle components on combines and tractors while they are operated in fields. Therefore, you must clean engine areas at least daily. This can be done with an air compressor or leaf blower.

  2. Harvesting sunflowers is particularly dangerous because stems are reduced to a very lightweight dust that can build up on the combine. Temperatures on the combine exhaust system components are high enough to ignite the sunflower dust.

    Hot spots on combine

  3. Inspect the engine compartment where chaff may have accumulated around bearings, belts and other moving parts. Dust and trash become more combustible as they get drier and smaller.                                                                                 

    Combine head
    Combine head engine
  4. Regularly clean the space under tractor and combine cabs.                                 

    Combine cab

  5. Make sure exhaust systems (including manifolds, mufflers and turbochargers) are free of leaks.

    Combine exhaust


Fire Control

  1. In the event of a fire, turn off the machine and exit the cab immediately. Call 911 before trying to extinguish it yourself.
  2. Always carry two fire extinguishers on the combine, one in the cab and one that you can access from the ground. Also, carry a fire extinguisher in your grain hauling equipment.

    Fire extinguisher on combine
    University of Wisconsin
  3. Make sure fire extinguishers are mounted on tractors and combines. Check extinguishers for these requirements:
    1. Inspect your fire extinguishers per manufacturer recommendations and fill out the card on the device.
    2. The pressure is at the recommended level. On extinguishers equipped with a gauge, the needle should be in the green zone.
    3. The nozzle or other parts are not hindered in any way.
    4. The pin and tamper seal are intact.
    5. The extinguishers have no dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits or signs of wear.
    6. Replace the extinguisher even if it is only partially discharged.
  4. When using a fire extinguisher, remember this acronym: PASS

    Pull the pin

    Aim at the base



Fire extinguisher
       PASS Demonstration

For more information on this and other topics, see

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