Five ways for your tractor to burn to the ground

(screen cap from @JoshRCrabb, Twitter)

I don’t have my numbers in front of me, but it seems to me that the chances of encountering a “perfect storm” in agriculture are much higher than in other industries.

When it rains, it pours … and then it hails. If you’re Lyndsey and you’re blessed with triplet lambs, one dies after birth, mom sits on the big one, and you’re left with the runt to bottle feed.

Or, for a farmer we know in Manitoba on Wednesday, you just started seeding, you’re checking up on the drill, and your tractor starts itself on fire while your back is turned. Update: No one was injured in the fire.

Tractors are powerful machines and if something goes wrong, like with most things in agriculture, it can go really wrong, really fast. But for all the trials and tribulations a farmer must endure, why is a burning tractor one of them? Which leads me to ask the question…

When is it appropriate for your tractor to burn to the ground?

I’ve been doing a little research on reasons fires might start.

1. Fireworks in the cab. Maybe a neighbour thinks you’re bored and need a little excitement so they shoot fireworks at your tractor? As in the case of an Oregon woman that set a 51,000 acre wildfire because she thought her firefighter friends were bored. She then asked her friends to “like her fire” on Facebook.

2. Bacon welding torch. Maybe you needed to do a quick weld, so you wrapped the bacon from your breakfast, lunch, and supper and got to work making your own flaming bacon lance (don’t worry there is a vegetarian option in the video as well).

3. Auto-steer gives you time to try “magic fire hands”. I don’t have anything clever here. I might not finish this post and just go try this myself.

3. Lava. We don’t have many Pompeii situations in Canada, but I’m putting it on the list. Totally appropriate.

4. Smoking crack. Look, if you’re smoking crack, you’re probably not making great decisions and shouldn’t be anywhere near a tractor. Like the group in Atlanta that burned down a section of the I-85.

5. Scented candles. I can’t find any statistics on tractors, but candles cause 3% of home fires. I’m not blaming you for wanting a little Cinnamon Sparkle (while I’m partial to more of a Strawberry Surrender) to relax you during the planting season, but it’s just not safe to burn candles in the cab.

If you’re more interested in a natural pine smell, under no circumstances are you to put last year’s Christmas tree in the cab either.

The rest of the time it seems inappropriate for a tractor to burn. I get it. Tractors and combines are giant controlled-explosion devices with all kinds of combustible materials. A bearing can seize or wiring can fray and you’re suddenly up in smoke.

There’s a lot to deal with as a farmer and it would sure be nice if we could remove the risk of an inferno.

Until that time, take a minute to review our fire prevention checklist.