Machinery fire risk extends beyond utes
Farmers need to be able to operate their farm machinery in the paddock without excessive risk of fires says a leading agri-politician.
HEAT mitigation technology must be a priority for machinery manufacturers making equipment used in paddock situations according to the president of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) David Jochinke.
Speaking after a series of grass fires attributed to hot diesel particulate filters (DPFs) fitted to new model diesel utes, Mr Jochinke said farm machinery needed to be able to be operated safely in paddock environments.
“All farm machinery, by the nature of it, is going to be operated in stubble loaded positions,”Mr Jochinke, who is also vice-president of the National Farmers Federation (NFF) said.
“It is not something you are going to be able to avoid.”
And although the issue of machinery-started grass fires has focused on utes, especially following Ford and Mazda issuing recall notices because of issues with their DPF systems, Mr Jochinke said the problem was not confined just to utility vehicles.
“Meeting emissions targets means we will see this technology on other pieces of equipment, such as tractors and headers.
“Headers in particular are used in hot weather when the fire risk is higher.”
“We don’t mind these sort of emissions targets but you have to be careful not to create a bigger problem than you’re trying to fix.”
“Whatever emissions target we are trying to meet, whether it be Euro 5 or Euro 6, the priority is to ensure the components are shielded from the heat.”
However, in Queensland, that state’s Rural Fire Service has said the issue presented by DPFs is manageable.
“We have a fleet of Isuzu trucks on order and we have done the research and we feel they will be fine to operate off-road,” said RFS acting manager of operational development Mark Saunders.
He said there was some issue with one model of Ford Ranger but it was to do with the positioning of various parts allowing grass seeds to build up rather than a serious issue with all engines fitted with a DPF.
“With the Isuzu the shrouding that is around the filter we have tested it and you could not ignite a piece of paper on it, so we are fairly happy with it.”
Mr Saunders also said the DPF did not run hot when the vehicle was only going slowly.
“The risks are much lower if you’re not haring across the paddocks.”
Marshall Rodda, a VFF and Country Fire Authority (CFA) member in the Wimmera in Victoria said he felt it was something designers need to be aware of.
“It’s probably not such a big deal on the tractors, given when we use them, but for grain trucks, utes and headers, we definitely don’t want them to be running excessively hot.”
Mr Jochinke agreed.
“We need to have systems that are designed for use in the paddocks as well as on road.”
Mr Rodda said industry was now getting a handle on any modifications allowable.
“The first step is to find out whether we are allowed to change exhaust systems on utes that have had problems, whether insurance is impacted by any modifications, there are a lot of practicalities we need to have figured out before making our next move.”