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Suppression systems could save lives, combines and this year’s harvest, says NFU Mutual

  • UK’s leading farm insurer introduces discounts on combine insurance to support farmers fitting approved fire suppression kit
  • NFU Mutual sets combine alight in live test with Fireward at Adam Hewitt Ltd to put a P-mark suppression system to the test
  • In 2020 agricultural vehicle fire claims to NFU Mutual totalled £20m
Suppression systems could save lives, combines and this year’s harvest, says NFU Mutual p three
Fire suppression test

Farmers installing suppression kits on their combine harvesters are set to benefit from discounted insurance and a safer harvest, says NFU Mutual.

The UK’s leading rural insurer is offering incentives for combines fitted at point of purchase, or retro-fitted, with suppression systems that meet P-mark certification standards.

“Combine fires put lives at risk, cause huge disruption to harvesting and destroy expensive machines so we’re very pleased to introduce insurance discounts on combines fitted with accredited suppression systems”, said Tom Murray from the Agricultural Vehicle Underwriting Team at NFU Mutual.

 He explained: “Sometimes engine bay fires can break out despite regular maintenance and removal of debris, but suppression systems mitigate risks and significantly reduce the severity and frequency of farm fires.”

Suppression systems could save lives, combines and this year’s harvest, says NFU Mutual p four
Combine set alight for test

In a recent live demonstration (see below), the insurer partnered with one of the leading suppression manufacturers Fireward and agricultural salvage firm Adam Hewitt Ltd to set fire to a combine and put a P-mark system to the test.

Tom explained:

“Tests have shown that fires can be reduced or prevented altogether by suppression systems. When an engine bay catches fire, it needs to be rapidly detected, effectively contained, and quickly extinguished. Suppression systems are also effective on fires involving solid combustibles, flammable liquids and electricity.”

Suppression systems could save lives, combines and this year’s harvest, says NFU Mutual p two
Post suppression

The P-mark approved suppression kits involve dual agent systems that have two cylinders, one with powder and the other with a foam. The powder acts by interrupting the chemical reaction taking place and cutting off the oxygen supply. The foam suppressing agent in the second cylinder rapidly cools superhot surfaces of over 200°C in larger engine bays which also hold turbochargers and filters.

Suppression systems could save lives, combines and this year’s harvest, says NFU Mutual p one
Adam Hewitt

Adam Hewitt owner of Adam Hewitt Ltd said:

“As specialists in agricultural machinery salvage, we see first-hand the destruction caused by combine fires. My family has served the farming industry for 70 years so were pleased to play our part in making the industry safer by holding the fire suppression test for NFU Mutual here at our Worcestershire base.”

As the UK’s leading farm insurer, NFU Mutual is all too aware of the huge devastation and stress caused by combine fires during the busy harvest period. In 2020 NFU Mutual dealt with more than 80 combine harvester fires, including eight which were valued at over £100,000 each.

Bob Henderson, who heads NFU Mutual’s engineering team, deals with many burnt-out agricultural vehicles each year. He said:

“Wider adoption of fire suppression systems could be a serious game changer for arable farming – helping protect lives, property and the year’s harvest.

“While insurance can cover the cost of a replacement, farmers still risk losing critical harvesting time during a tight weather window and huge difficulty hiring a combine when machines are in high demand.”

To find out more about how to prevent fires and discounts available for combines fitting P-mark approved suppression systems, please get in contact with your local NFU Mutual agency.

The P-mark is a global standard which brings together best practice from Europe. This accreditation confirms that the product is type-tested and that installation and fitting is inspected. This robust approach ensures that any suppression system is suitably tested and appropriate for the conditions in which agricultural vehicles are being used. 

 NFU Mutual tips to prevent fire this harvest

  • Regularly clean out dust and chaff from hot spots in combines and balers and check the machine over when you finish use
  • Fit a suppression system that meets P-mark status to contain, extinguish and prevent fire
  • Use a mobile compressor to regularly blow away debris
  • Switch off engines and ensure moving parts have stopped before clearing blockages or carrying out maintenance
  • Always stop to investigate hot-running engines or bearings
  • Have a plan in place in the event of a fire including a system for keeping in contact with lone workers
  • Keep mobile phones on you at all times – not left in a tractor or pickup cab
  • Make sure drivers are aware of the locations and heights of power lines and check that you will safely pass under wires
  • Make sure there is a fire extinguisher on the combine – and that it is regularly maintained – and that you know where the nearest water source is


  • Instruct drivers to keep to safe speeds in the grain yard
  • Check signs are in place to help lorry drivers go to the right place and alert members of the public to any potential hazards
  • Keep children away from working areas
  • Clean dust regularly from grain dryers – and ensure that all staff running the drier are fully trained and know what to do if fire breaks out
  • Ensure fire extinguishers are readily accessible
  • Make sure ladders and platforms used for maintenance are in good condition and a safe system of work is in operation

About NFU Mutual

NFU Mutual offers a wide range of products, including general insurance, life, pensions, and investments. These products and services are delivered through our network of NFU Mutual Agent offices, as well as through our direct sales and service centres. With over 300 local businesses located in rural towns and villages throughout the UK, NFU Mutual has become part of the fabric of rural life and remains committed to serving the needs of our members nationwide.

NFU Mutual is proud to deliver more than simply insurance. Making farming safer, supporting rural initiatives across the UK and helping to look after the environment are just some of the ways we do that.

To find out more about everything we do to support our communities, visit

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