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Fire Extinguishers in Tractors

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:11 am
by Tyban
Hi all,
Can anyone provide a reference as to where it states fire extinguishers are required to be fitted to tractors. I conducted a RA and reckon there should be one and I'm waiting on a reply from the insurers but the Manager for the area states no legal requirement and objects to cost of fitting out all his tractors.
Any ideas .scratch
Cheers .salut

Re: Fire Extinguishers in Tractors

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:25 pm
by Messy
There's no legal requirement that I am aware of, but for under £20 you can buy a 4kg dry powder extinguisher which IMO is well suited for the risk.

Taking into account that most agricultural tractors spend a lot of time in muddy fields, or fields full of combustible crops - perhaps a long way from where a fire engine can get to, and that many of these locations may have to wait for a rural/retained fire crew, the provision of first aid firefighting equipment (with a small 'when to use' policy & instructions) is essential.

If the tractors are in non agricultural use, the need for an extinguisher may be less -

In any case, you have done the RA so why not invest this tiny sum????

For example ... inguisher/

Re: Fire Extinguishers in Tractors

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:49 pm
by Tyban
Hi Messy,
The tractors are used within a land college environment. I completed the RA on behalf of the dept and based the requirement on the fact that most vehicles these days carry extinguishers and the HSE guidance stated Combines were to carry extinguishers. The budget to pay comes from someone else's budget and that's the problem, they are questioning the requirement and the need to buy the extinguishers.

If the insurers state they want them then the dept will buy them but they will not buy them based on my RA.

Fingers crossed insurers come through on my side.
Cheers .salut

Re: Fire Extinguishers in Tractors

Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:13 am
by hardhat
What is the actual risk of personal injury that justifies the recommendation of a fire extinguisher? If there is no significant risk of personal injury that would be reduced with a fore extinguisher, then you shouldn't be recommending them. If the only risk is property damage, then this should be in a separate section on the risk assessment - making it clear that it is not required for personal safety.

Do you expect a teacher or student to actually tackle a fire on a tractor (if you could get the thing to ignite)? How can you justify suggesting that an employee or student should do this? Surely where there is no life at risk they should walk away and let it burn??

In a commercial scenario a farmer may have an extinguisher as you suggest to put down a small smoulder in a combine harvester (to save his product), but this would not be needed in most other scenarios.

Personally trying to justify something just because lots of other vehicles do it is missing the point of a risk assessment - in this case it will probably increase the risk of serious personal injury as you are encouraging its use (and there is no risk of being trapped, like in a burning building). The tractor is very unlikely to catch fire (have you tried igniting diesel?) and will probably be insured in any case. I wouldn't be comfortable in putting them in there - and then you have the added obligation to maintain them which will be much more than the initial purchase cost.

Just my opinion if it helps.

Re: Fire Extinguishers in Tractors

Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:42 am
by bernicarey
hi Ty
Yes, it's odd that the HSE leaflet on 'Safe use of Combine Harvesters' should mention carrying a Fire Extinguisher, but not the one for Tractor Safety. I suspect it reflects the differing authors priorities.
The Tractor one is dated 2013 and the Combine one only a year earlier in 2012, yet Tractors gets 13 pages in colour and Combines only 3 in B&W. Very strange. .scratch

However, back to the point in Question.
'hardhat' has raised some valid observations; why do you feel a Fire Ex is necessary? Is it to safe life or property?

However I have to disagree with his opinion about the likelihood of a unit catching fire and thinking solely of diesel.
A quick search for 'Tractor Fire' will readily find results. This list shows that Shropshire F&S alone dealt with 19 Tractor Fires during 2016:
Equally his assertion that effectively not to worry about it as it's 'insured', ignores the uninsured costs, such as loss of the machine for repair or replacement and increased annual premiums.
if you feel justified in your FRA, then stick to your guns and lay it out for the applicable management.
Tell them that they are the ones who need to agree (or not) with the FRA recommendations and will have to justify their decisions.
Give them a cost breakdown of the extinguisher v other costs.

Re: Fire Extinguishers in Tractors

Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:05 pm
by Tyban
Thanks Hard hat and Berni, all valid points.

When I conducted my assessment I took into account the fact that most documentation regarding workplace transport requires a fire extinguisher i.e. minibuses, combines, some of the plant I've seen have extinguishers mounted to the rear of the cab and I'm aware that some new tractors (not all) come fitted with extinguishers. As Berni points out there has also been numerous fires regarding tractors for whatever reasons, which I identified while searching the net. Also American OSHA and Canadian Safety both advise extinguishers on tractors but nothing conclusive by the HSE.
Our tractors are used for towing passenger trailers or other equipment so my consideration was for fires from the equipment being towed or which may involve the passenger trailer.
When I already have over 600 extinguishers to budget for and maintain, another 6 small ones will not make any difference cost wise but may save a life if an extinguisher is available. Staff are told extinguishers are only to be used if safe to do so and may save a life or aid escape.
Thanks both. .salut

Re: Fire Extinguishers in Tractors

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:41 am
by Andyblue
Surely if the concern is for passengers in a trailer, that's where the FE should be - at/close to where it may be needed
On the risk of fire, electrics and hydraulic fluid are probably a greater risk source than diesel with the fire tending to be outside rather than inside to cab - is that where the FE should be mounted? We wouldn't want the operator to stay in the cab to deal with a fire there
Combines - there are quite a few other big machines that I'd treat in a similar manner, with quite different fire risks to a conventional agri tractor.