Managing harvester fires focus at Cummins workshop

WORKSHOP: Harvester fire specialist Ben White will headline the workshops, providing advice to growers on steps they can take to avoid harvester fires. Picture: Melissa Powell
WORKSHOP: Harvester fire specialist Ben White will headline the workshops, providing advice to growers on steps they can take to avoid harvester fires. Picture: Melissa Powell

Preparation to avoid harvester fires will be the focus of a series of Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) technical workshops next month, including at Cummins.

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 headline the workshops, providing advice on steps growers 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.”

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

“The potential losses from a fire are enormous. Harvester fires can burn through entire crops, farms, neighbourhoods and communities, causing infrastructure losses, serious burns or even result in fatalities,” he said.

“With that on the line, every grower should have a plan, which is discussed with their whole team, on how to reduce the risk and respond to harvester fires.”

About 7 per cent of harvesters start a fire each year, in a range of crop types including cereals and pulses.

Representatives from the the 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.

Workshop facilitator Belinda Cay said there was more to harvester fire preparedness than just preventing fires.

Ms Cay understands the devastation of fire, having lost her home in the 2015 Pinery fire, and will discuss her strategies for coping along with Eyre Peninsula grower Steve Whillas, who was burnt out in the 2005 Wangary fire.

“The mental impact of fire is more significant than most people realise, so the workshops will cover coping and handling stress after a fire,” Ms Cay said.

Landmark’s Kris Nelson will also help growers assess their insurance coverage and maintain appropriate record-keeping for insurance coverage after a fire, and growers who have experience with harvester fires will share their stories.

The workshop will take place at the Cummins Bowling Club on Friday, October 5, from 9am to 2pm.

Visit www.agcommunicators.com.au/events for more details.

Enquiries can be directed to Rebecca Barr at AgCommunicators via rebecca.barr@agcommunicators.com.au or 0402 788 526.