CFA issues a warning to farmers cutting crops

By Vanessa Wiltshire

DECENT rainfall in some parts of Victoria has caused the CFA to issue a warning to farmers cutting crops: take care or face potential catastrophe.

The warning comes as damning statistics reveal that the CFA responds to more than 200 harvesting-related fires every year.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said machinery fires can be avoided if farmers follow the correct practices.

“The key to avoiding harvester fires is diligence; farmers need to make sure they are thoroughly cleaning their machinery and inspecting it before use,” he said.

“Hot and dry days are a particular concern for CFA — if it’s a high fire-risk day, our advice is to postpone work you are planning on doing in the paddock.

“During hot weather harvesting, grinding, welding, slashing or mowing can spark fires quite easily.”

Mr Warrington also advised against driving vehicles and motorbikes through dry grass.

“The risk is that your car can heat up and ignite the dry grass underneath on those really hot days. This is incredibly dangerous and last season we saw cars and machinery sparking quite a few fires.

“High-risk heat days are the most concerning. When you’re thinking about your own wellbeing in the heat, make sure you’re also thinking about the ground around you.

“It should be part of any farmer’s routine to check for straw or grass build-ups in machinery, to maintain their spark arrestors, and to take regular breaks when operating machinery to ensure it doesn’t get too hot.

“Being fire safe on your farm should be part of any fire plan you have.”

More info go to the CFA website.