Or CLICK to download a pdf of this article
Heavy Equipment Losses — How Can You Help Minimize Fire Claims?
Fire is responsible for 68 percent of logging equipment losses. During the past several years, I have been involved in numerous claims that have either caused major damage or completely destroyed logging equipment due to fire.
When a piece of heavy equipment catches on fire, it requires the full attention of the crew to put out the fire and protect the surrounding areas from catching on fire. A fire can disrupt the entire operation for weeks until the damaged equipment is repaired or a settlement is made for a total loss. Fire loss expenses are huge with large insurance deductibles, loss of income, additional expenses, reduced employee wages, delays in getting the job back on track, and having to deal with the insurance company.
Professional loggers know the investment they have in their equipment and what that investment means in terms of daily production and profit. Heavy equipment fires are both dangerous and expensive. Most of these are preventable, and it only takes 30-45 minutes daily to substantially reduce the risk of the logging equipment going up in smoke.
Most fire hazards are created by:
1. Accumulation of debris inside mechanical compartments.
2. Buildup of oil, grease, and fuel from leaks and spills.
3. Faulty or damaged electrical system wiring and components.
4. Overheating brakes.
5. Heavy buildup of flammable materials around rotating drive shafts.
The following are some daily and weekly fire prevention steps to protect your equipment:
1. Clean the unit often.
- Clean accumulated debris out of engine and mechanical compartments at least once a day.
- Drop belly pan and remove side panels to clean and remove accumulated leaves, debris, oil, grease, spilled fuel, etc. from engine and transmission compartments at least once a week.
- Steam clean or pressure wash at least once a month.
2. Inspect battery cables and connections and electrical wiring connections and components at least weekly. Repair or replace any defects in the electrical system.
3. Perform daily and routine maintenance and service as recommended by the manufacturer.
4. At shutdown, engage battery disconnect switch if available on unit.
5. Maintain and regularly service the engine and hydraulic cooling systems to avoid overheating.
6. When parked at shutdown, maintain at least 50 feet between machines in an area cleared of excess ground debris to minimize spread of fire.
7. After shutdown, observe machines for a 30 to 60 minute cool down time.
8. Before using a cutting or welding device, clean the machine and, if necessary, wet the work area down with water. Have a fire extinguisher or fire truck close to your work.
9. Maintain an approved, charged, and operable fire extinguisher at all times for each piece of equipment.
10. Make sure that all fire fighting equipment is kept close to the jobsite. Start up the fire truck on a daily basis to make sure it is in good operating condition.
Remember the key to prevention: Clean, inspect, and repair!
Geoffrey Stathos is employed by United Risk Solutions Inc. out of Medford, Ore. He has specialized in providing insurance products to the Timber Industry for over 30 years.