Many newer combines and even some tractors come from the factory with a fire extinguisher mounted securely on the machine. Some of you have bought fire extinguishers at some point for older machines. While specialists last summer feared this might be a tender box at harvest for fires, rains in August that greened up the crop, while doing virtually nothing for yield, may have reduced the fire risk. Still, before the season is over, as the crop turns brown and deteriorates, there is always a risk of fire.
If you've had your fire extinguisher several years, is it still good? If you pull the pin and squeeze the trigger, will anything come out? That depends partly on the type of extinguisher it is, says John Guerra of the Purdue University Fire Department. He recently helped demonstrate the use and care of fire extinguishers at the Purdue Agronomic Research Center near West Lafayette.
The life of extinguishers varies depending upon type, but they can still remain good up to 10 years. Unfortunately, there is no real way to tell if an extinguisher is good or not. If the extinguisher is the type that contains a chemical powder, you can tap the bottom against a solid object, and tell if the powder is still free, he notes. If it's still free, then chances are it's still good.
Once you've used a fire extinguisher, even if you didn't empty it, it needs to be serviced and refilled, he notes. Contact a business that specializes in fire extinguishers. This isn't something you're going to handle through a big box hardware or department store.
Depending upon how many extinguishers you have, and the type of business, you may want to set up an inspection plan with a fire extinguisher company to do routine inspections. You can discuss with them how often that should be for your farm operation. The last thing you want is to have a fire, pull the pin, and discover the extinguisher was just riding along as an ornament.