Baler Fire Prevention

Baling hay is hot, dusty work. Equipment can get overheated too, and a spark from the baler could quickly ignite the machine and the entire hay field, leaving you little time to react. There are things you can do to minimize the fire potential.

Kent McGuire is an ag safety and health coordinator at the Ohio State University. He says the main thing is to keep the machine well-maintained.

"Always lubricate sprockets, bearings and chains. Inspect those frictional wear points on the equipment because they can generate heat, and inspect or replace worn bearings. Worn bearings can generate quite a bit of heat during operation," says McGuire. "You can repair and clean up any fuel or hydraulic leaks. Make sure the equipment is clean and take time to blow off dust, leaves, and dry stems."

Also make sure that all the guards and shields are in place. Not only are they a safety precaution, they can prevent the accumulation of combustible dust close to machine parts that may produce heat.

While you’re baling hay, periodically stop and check to make sure nothing is overheating.

"Especially frictional areas or where a bearing is going out, it may get hot enough where you may see the metal itself start to get red," he says. "You can use a laser thermometer to check heat sources on the equipment to check for potential hot spots."

Always have a fully charged cell phone and ABC fire extinguisher on the tractor, and know where you are in case you need to give directions to the fire department.