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Fire Safety for Feller Bunchers and Mulchers

Compared to other mobile industrial machines, equipment used in forestry has an above average risk of being damaged or destroyed by fire. Take the right steps to minimize the risk of fire. Learn more about best practices.

Compared to other mobile industrial machines, equipment used in forestry has an above average risk of being damaged or destroyed by fire. Feller bunchers and mulchers, both track and wheel, are at the most risk. These machines work in the midst of airborne forest debris or ground vegetation that falls or is kicked up by the tires, felling saw or mulching attachment. Due to these factors, fire detection and fire prevention for logging equipment is absolutely essential. Needles, leaves, twigs and chips can become trapped inside the machine’s engine, cooling and hydraulic compartments. Left to possibly absorb slow leaking hydraulic oil or diesel fuel and held near high temperature, the heightened risk of fire is not difficult to understand.

Logging industry fire safety publications always advise that regular and thorough removal of accumulations of woody debris from all areas of the forestry machines is without question the single best fire prevention maintenance practice. Yet all too often this recommendation is ignored. The vast majority of equipment fires are preventable and continual focus on fire prevention is the best thing that you can do to ensure that you never see your logging machine in flames. Should a machine fire occur, early detection while the fire is small is vital. This provides more time for the machine operator to stop the machine, shut off the engine, radio for help and exit to a position of safety. It also allows critical fire fighting measures to be initiated sooner, increases the chances of successfully extinguishing the fire, reduces machine damage and lessens the time and expense to return a damaged machine back into service.

Often the last person on the job site to know that his machine is on fire is the operator himself — his seating position is near the front of the machine, his attention is focused straight ahead and the majority of hydraulic, electrical and engine components are located behind him. In order to minimize the operator’s sight disadvantage and increase the speed of fire detection, Tigercat installs a heat sensing, fire detection system on all mulchers and drive-to-tree feller bunchers.

The system consists of three heat sensing detectors, two located above the engine and one above the hydraulic pumps. If the temperature at any detector exceeds 177ºC (350ºF), the cab instrument panel ‘Fire Detected’ warning light and alarm buzzer are activated. In addition, the cab instrument panel ‘Stop Light’ (Engine) and warning horn is activated. It is important to note that this onboard, electrical fire detection is only a warning system. It is not a fire suppression system and it will not extinguish a fire. The system is only activated when the engine is running. It will not provide a warning when the machine is shutdown.

The Tigercat fire detection system incorporates a simple electrical circuit with a system test capability. As with any system, regular service checks and periodic maintenance are required to ensure that the fire detection system is fully operable. Failure to properly maintain the system may mean that the crucial fire detection you are counting on will be inoperative when you need it the most. Do not put your machine to work unless you know that your fire detection system is fully functional.

Refer to the Operator’s Manual  to familiarize yourself with the location of all fire detection system components.

Daily maintenance

Weekly maintenance

Monthly maintenance


For further information relating to FIRE PREVENTION on forestry machines,  read the SAFETY SECTION of all Tigercat Operator’s Manuals.


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