Using machinery and equipment

Machinery is commonplace in rural areas. However, using machinery unsafely or failing to maintain machinery can increase the risk of starting a fire.


Using machinery

  • Check the fire weather in your area before using machinery. Avoid operating equipment during times of very high or extreme fire danger.
  • Be very careful when using machinery during dry conditions. Fires can start from the smallest spark.
  • Wet down the area you're working in and have firefighting equipment handy if the conditions are dry.
  • Be aware of exhaust heat and spark emission when driving through, or parking in, stubble or long dry grass. Be particularly cautious on high, very high and extreme fire danger days.
  • Carry appropriate fire extinguishers, shovels, or knapsack sprayers.
  • Stop using welders, chainsaws, slashers, and some tractor operations, on extreme fire danger days.
  • Do welding and angle grinding only in clear areas.
  • When operating a machine be aware of what could be happening outside your cab.
  • If carting hay using a diesel truck that has vertical exhausts higher than the cab, cover the hay load or fix a spark-arrester shield to the exhaust.

Storing fuel and other chemicals 

  • Store petrol, diesel fuels and chemicals in clearly-labelled, approved containers and in single-purpose locations away from other farm buildings.
  • Keep areas clean of rubbish, oily rags, firewood and other fuel sources.

Maintaining machinery

  • get rid of birds’ nests from in or around motors.
  • Check all machinery is free of mechanical defects that could start a fire and has approved exhaust systems and spark arresters.
  • Pay special attention to checking your machinery’s bearings and moving parts.
  • Clean all machinery regularly to ensure belly pans and spaces around motors are free of oil, dust, grease, grass and straw.

Farm maintenance

  • Fit suitable fire extinguishers in farm buildings and on machinery.
  • Keep trees and branches at least 3 metres clear of power lines. Contact your local power authority to have branches cleared.
  • Keep paddocks around farm buildings and yards well grazed to reduce the fire hazard during dry conditions.
  • Dry hay before baling and stacking to prevent spontaneous combustion.

Hot work

  • Hot work is any job that involves using tools that could start a fire. On rural properties, this might include welding, grinding or cutting.
  • Don't do hot work outdoors during prohibited fire seasons unless you have a special permit.
  • Where possible, perform hot work indoors at a designated safe location, like a welding bay. If you this isn't possible, make sure you move any fire hazards or flammable materials out of the area before starting.
  • 30 minutes after you've finished the hot work, do a final check for any hot spots that might cause a fire.
  • Have firefighting equipment on hand, and know how to use it, in case a fire starts.
  • Have firefighting equipment on hand, and know how to use it, in case a fire starts.