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Ohio State University Extension


Combine Fires

Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training for Operators and Supervisors
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: To know the causes of combine fires and to be able to take the precautions that are necessary for preventing combine fires.

Trainer’s Notes

The prevention of combine fires is especially important at harvest since the crop is ready and the harvest must be timely. Any downtime could result in financial loss and emotional stress. Discuss the importance of following recommended safety procedures to prevent combine fires. Review the true or false quiz.


Combine fires may be caused by combustible material being ignited by an electrical short. These shorts are caused by insulation melting, rubbing through and grounding of bare wires, or rodent chewing damage.

Fires can also be started by the combination of harvest materials (chaff and leaves), high temperatures, or mixing with oil or fuel. Engine sparks can start stubble or straw fires. Fires are often associated with the cooling system. Dust in these areas should be removed regularly.

To prevent combine fires:

  • Use heat-resistant insulation.
  • Keep wiring and fuses in proper operating condition and position.
  • Properly route and insulate all replacement wires.
  • Keep fuel lines in good condition with tight connections.
  • Never fill the gasoline supply tank near an open flame, while smoking, or with the engine running.
  • Remove excess crop residue from rotating units to prevent fires.
  • Put out small stubble fires immediately.
  • Wipe up oil and fuel spills as they occur. This prevents chaff and trash from collecting and combining to start a fire.

To manage combine fire:

  • Call 911 at first sign of a fire.
  • Keep a 10-pound ABC fire extinguisher on the combine.
  • Shut down the combine and close any fuel valves on the machine.

Review the Following Points

  • Check all wiring before each year's harvest.
  • Clean all oil spills and gasoline from combine immediately.
  • Never fuel the tank when near an open flame or when the engine is running.
  • Remove all straw or crop residue that has wrapped around bearings or moving parts.

About These Modules

The Ag Tailgate Training Series was developed by members of the Agricultural Safety and Health Program in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Revised by Dee Jepsen, State Agricultural Safety Leader, with editing assistance by Lisa Pfeifer and Cody McClain.

True or False Answer Key

  1. T
  2. T
  3. F
  4. T
  5. T

Quiz: Combine Fires



True or False?    

1. Combine fires are often caused by an electrical short near combustible material. T F
2. Never fuel the tank near an open flame or with the engine running. T F
3. Wipe oil and fuel spills occasionally to prevent chaff build-up. T F
4. Fires may start from straw or husks wrapping around gears and exhaust pipes. T F
5. Stubble fires should be put out immediately. T F





Originally posted May 20, 2019.