Free harvester fire workshop in Kaniva

A free harvester fire workshop will be held at the Kaniva Community Hub on Wednesday October 3 from 9am – 2pm. 

Preparation to avoid harvester fires will be the main focus of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) technical workshop.

GRDC free workshops will be held in Kaniva, Swan Hill Clare and Cummins and will address a wide range of topics to ensure growers are prepared for the serious threat harvester fires pose even in dry seasons.

Harvester fire specialist Ben White will be headlining the workshops, providing advice to growers on steps they can take to avoid harvester fires.

These steps include harvesting hygiene, equipment maintenance and harvester modifications.

Mr White said harvester fires could happen in any particular season and community members should be prepared.

“Unfortunately, a low yielding season doesn’t mean growers won’t see harvester fires, and the worst thing would be for growers to get complacent and put themselves in danger,” he said.

Mr White recommends all growers develop a harvester fire plan as a critical part of harvest.

“The potential losses from a fire are enormous. Harvester fires can burn through entire crops, farms, neighbourhoods and communities, causing infrastructure losses, serious burns or even result in fatalities,” he said.

“With that on the line, every grower should have a plan, which is discussed with their whole team, on how to reduce the risk and respond to harvester fires.”

About seven percent of harvesters start a fire each year, in a range of crop types including cereals and pulses, meaning there’s a good chance that every grain grower will experience a harvester fire at some point.

Along with Mr White, representatives from the Country Fire Authority, Victorian Farmers Federation, the Country Fire Service and Grain Producers SA will share information on fire danger indices, grain harvesting guidelines, fighting fires, and communication during a fire.

Workshop facilitator Belinda Cay said there was more to harvester fire preparedness that just preventing fires.

“It is essential that every grower prepares themselves for the risk of fire, not only from the practical perspective of trying to avoid fires, but also being mentally prepared to manage after a fire,” Ms Cay said.

Ms Cay speaks from personal experience, having lost her home in the 2015 Pinery fire, and will discuss her own strategies for coping along with Eyre Peninsula grower Steve Whillas who was burnt out in the 2005 Wangary fire.

“The mental impact of fire is more significant than most people realise, so the workshops will cover coping and handling stress after a fire,” she said.

Landmark’s Kris Nelson will also help growers assess their insurance coverage and maintain appropriate record keeping for insurance coverage after a fire, and growers who have experience with harvester fires will share their stories.

Full workshop programs are available at www.agcommunicators.com.au/events.

Enquiries can be directed to Rebecca Barr at AgCommunicators via email rebecca.barr@agcommunicators.com.au or phone 0402 788 526.