During the heatwave that occurred at harvest time in 2022, we received reports from one of our approved distributors, that the Fire Safety Stick effectively saved a large combine harvester from being a total write-off due to a fire starting whilst out in the fields harvesting.
Typically, we always stress that our unique, compact fire extinguisher, like all handheld extinguishers, is only really intended for small fires at the very early stages before the fire takes hold and becomes well established. So how did the Fire Safety Stick manage to control such a fire, whilst the farmer waited for the local fire brigade to arrive?
Firstly, a little background on common causes of fires with these large agriculture machines, typically costing several hundred thousand pounds. As the cut crops are fed into the inner workings of the combine, they enter the threshing drum. Within here, due to the typical high ambient temperatures, the fine powder-like dust of the crop that builds up more and more, along with incredibly hot running temperatures of the hydraulic fluids and the friction from the many pulley wheels and belts, it is quite often that an initial small fire can start. One of the key jobs any operator must do when using the combine during the hot weather is to use compressed airlines to effectively blow the dry crop dust off the machine, especially around the belts and pulleys, but even when this is correctly carried out, fires can still occur.
The issue is though that this area can be hard to reach, well within the machine, and so the farmer may not even be aware of the fire starting whilst out in the fields. Even if the operator has stopped, and is aware of the fire, being within the thresher unit, it is extremely hard, if not impossible, for them to completely engulf the fire with the extinguishant from a handheld extinguisher. A powder extinguisher needs to be directed completely over the fire at its base whereas a foam extinguishant needs to be laid on top of the fire, again this can be extremely difficult to gain access.
One of the advantages the Fire Safety Stick has over many traditional extinguishers is that the vapour from it can get into all the hidden, hard-to-get-to parts around the thresher drum. Plus, despite its incredibly small size, it has a much longer discharge time. For example, the FSS100 model weighs just 365g and yet has a discharge time of over 100 seconds. In comparison, a 2-litre foam, weighing 3.6kg, has a discharge time of just 10 seconds! But the really useful advantage of the Fire Safety Stick in these cases is if you can’t gain easy access directing it to the fire, you can simply throw it into a confined space and it will continue to discharge, repressing the fire without the need for the operator to hold it. And that’s exactly what happened in this case.
We understand the farmer on the combine harvester didn’t actually have a Fire Safety Stick with him, but as soon as he was aware of the fire, one of his friends was in the next field and was carrying a 100-second model. They quickly activated and realising the fire was well within the thresher, threw it into the unit, whilst it was still discharging. Meanwhile, the fire brigade who had already been called were on their way.
Did the Fire Safety Stick fully extinguish the fire? To be honest, no it didn’t, but it did manage to repress the fire right down, making sure it didn’t get any worse and was not spreading, taking hold. By the time the fire brigade did arrive on the scene, all that was left for them to do was to douse the remaining fire down with water, ensuring it was indeed fully out with no sign of it igniting again.
The farmer was relieved since, not only was the combine harvester saved, resulting in just very minor internal fire damage, which was easily repaired. This allowed him to complete the harvest with it later on, but also, the remaining nearby crop in the field was saved too. Had it not been for the Fire Safety Stick, the machinery would have doubtless been totally destroyed and the crop lost to the fire, whilst he waited on the fire brigade to arrive.
So, could, the fire Safety Stick fully extinguish an established fire within the heavy machinery of a large combine harvester? Well, no, but in this case, it can certainly be seen as saving one from complete total loss. It was certainly able to reach parts that other extinguishers couldn’t reach!
Since this incident and other similar ones, the Fire Safety Stick has proven incredibly popular for the farming community across the UK, with nearly all the leading agriculture suppliers now offering the Fire Safety Stick for sale.