Fire Shield Systems identifies a number of fire risks in occupational vehicles and suggests ways of reducing these.

High-risk industries, such as manufacturing, mining or agriculture, use industrial vehicles on a daily basis. With these vehicles often being essential for continued operations, there is little room for any period of downtime. However, they can carry a number of fire risks. It’s crucial for these risks to be identified to allow for appropriate measures to be implemented to reduce fire risks and ensure safety on site for teams, assets and the environment.

What are the risks? Electrical failures The global shift towards electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles (EVs and HEVs) has led to the electrification of many industrial fleets. However, EVs and HEVs bring about new safety risks – most significantly, the possibility of thermal runaway.

Thermal runaway is a chemical reaction, which occurs due to a battery failure and causes a rapid increase in temperature in the battery’s cells. The propagation process, once ignited, quickly becomes self-sustained, as the battery begins to produce its own oxygen.

High-risk environments In high-risk environments, such as hot works, amongst flammable materials or near to storage areas, there are a number of fire risks for industrial vehicles. For example, hot works can produce a number of ignition sources, as sparks from welding, soldering or grinding can ignite surrounding combustible materials.

Infrequent cleaning or maintenance Industrial vehicles can also become clogged, due to dust build-up in exhausts. A lack of maintenance can leave this, and other faults, to go unnoticed, which can cause significant fire risks.

Unattended fuel spills, from vehicles or due to flammable liquids being moved around a site, can hinder the performance of industrial vehicles and contribute to increased fire risks.

Arson Despite it being less common, arson is still a significant fire risk for industrial vehicles. Vacant or unsecured vehicles are at an increased risk of arson, as these are often targeted by criminals.

Reducing the risks and ensuring site safety

So, how can you reduce fire risks associated with industrial vehicles?

Selecting the right fire protection and suppression solution Your chosen fire protection and suppression solution needs to be tailored specifically to your unique risks. For example, suppression solutions for EVs and HEVs should be designed to prevent or delay thermal runaway.


Fire risk assessments should be conducted to identify individual risks, allowing you to select the most effective fire suppression solution.

Monitoring a vehicle’s surroundings The environment a vehicle operates within has a significant impact on the effectiveness of its fire suppression solution. As such, monitoring a vehicle’s environment and recording this in regular risk assessments is key for mitigating fire risks.

“Suppression solutions for EVs and HEVs should be designed to prevent or delay thermal runaway.”

Regular cleaning and maintenance Cleaning and maintenance allows you to identify any issues early, reducing the risk of small issues causing large fires. As such, monitoring temperatures, the ongoing maintenance of electrical vehicle charging points and keeping the site clean is crucial.

Implement key security measures Although arson is less common, appropriate security measures to reduce its risk are imperative. Ensure to secure your premises whenever it is left unattended, safely store flammable materials and restrict access to certain areas.

Reducing downtime and maximising safety Industrial vehicles require continued maintenance and monitoring to reduce their associated fire safety risks and, more importantly, to protect people, assets and the environment.

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