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Word on the Wire By Andy Latham andy@salvagewire.com


Fire Prevention A


Fire prevention needs to be part of a businesses management system, setting out the fire prevention measures and procedures for each individual site.


recent report by the UK environ- mental agency highlighted that 30 percent of the pollution incidents at metal recycling sites in 2015 were related to fires. This equates to almost five fires per month – a massive number that can be reduced by some basic risk and peo- ple management practices.


In addition to the potential devastation to the business of a fire, we all know that fires can harm the environment, impact the health of nearby residents, and affect critical infrastructure such as roads, rail- ways and power distribution.


New guidance on fire prevention is being published in the UK with all recy- clers required to put in place and use their fire prevention measures or face enforcement action if they fail to do so. Fire prevention needs to be part of a businesses management system, setting out the fire prevention measures and procedures for each individual site – these measures need to include actions that will prevent a fire occurring, that will limit damage if a fire does break out, and staff training in the event of a fire. Having read the guidance in detail it will be very challenging for many auto recyclers and may have significant nega- tive implications for some businesses. One question remains, is this overkill or sensible business management practice? Recently a very well managed and well run auto recycling site in the UK had a serious fire that destroyed over 200 vehi- cles, storage racks and the reinforced con- crete surface. Investigations found that the fire started from an electrical short-cir- cuit in a vehicle that had been received that day from a recovery yard where it had stood for weeks with no issues. The company in question had robust


plans in place, including disaster recov- ery, that allowed them to get back to busi- ness as usual within a few days. However this event has made them update their plans, and re-train their employees to prevent similar incidents from occurring.


26 Automotive Recycling | September-October 2016


Some basic guidance on fire preven- tion includes: • Fire Risk Assessment that is consis- tently reviewed and updated • Staff training on fire prevention and what to do in the event of a fire


• Type of fire extinguishers, location, sufficient quantity and regular main- tenance


• Location of nearest fire hydrant • Fixed and portable wiring testing • Process to extract and store flamma- ble materials


• Storage of compressed gas cylinders on site and location of that storage


• Storage of un-depolluted end-of-life vehicles


• Smoking on site – if allowed, where? • ELV storage (volume, space between and height of racking/stacking) • Fire detection systems In the July/August 2015 Automotive Recycling magazine, Michelle Keadle- Taylor wrote powerfully about fires that had occurred at a few ARA members yards; all the recyclers involved have since changed their working practices to further minimize the risk of fire and beefed up their safety and fire training as well as their fire management plans. It is well worth re- reading and shows that these plans, when well rehearsed and practiced, are invalu- able for making certain that employees are safe, that the fire is contained, the busi- ness can still function, and the eventual environmental impact is minimized. The UK Environment Agency Fire Protection Guidance can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/ fire-prevention-plans-environmental- permits. 


Andy Latham is Managing Director of Salvage Wire, a unique Auto Recycling consultancy with a focus on Safety, Ethics, and Profitability for all clients. With over 30 years of experience


in the automotive industry, Andy shares his knowledge, ex- perience, and wisdom garnered as an engineer, manager, and leader. For more details of Salvage Wire Training please contact Andy Latham on andy@salvagewire.com, or look at the website www.salvagewire.com


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