Current affairs

sites as fully adequate. With the knowledge that sprinklers are effective when close enough to the top of the waste piles, one solution being introduced at some waste sites is to install mezzanines solely for the purpose of achieving adequate fire protection. The mezzanines can be 7m to 8m high, and the sprinklers fitted beneath would be activated early in a fire. Provided the mezzanines don’t restrict access to the waste for mobile plant or for cleaning/maintenance, and don’t get misused by storing yet more hazards on top, they can allow such waste piles to be adequately sprinkler protected, and for the fire/smoke/embers to be largely contained into a single bay. For sites already fitted with roof sprinklers, the

installation of low level mezzanines with sprinklers below in large lofty open sheds can be relatively cost effective, with the side benefits of better containment of the fire and the sprinkler water runoff after discharge.

Connected vs non connected

The decision of whether to invest in a permanently connected water supply or non connected pipework is something to consider for smaller waste sites with relatively low asset values and low business disruption potentials. Having fixed pipework installed and fitted with FRS breeching inlets, and perhaps a nearby water tank fitted with said breeching outlets, can mean the difference between saving and losing an entire building and its contents. There is of course a delay in the start

of firefighting efforts, but it means FRSs can get water directly onto a fire using their pumper units without having to enter a smoke logged building, or to break through the outer skin with axes to get their hoses in. This solution is not for everyone, but it can help spread a limited budget across a wide portfolio of small waste handling sites, all with similar likelihood of a fire occurring.

Protecting mobile plant

Mobile plant typically used at waste handling facilities includes grab cranes, backhoe loaders, front loaders, telescopic handlers, excavators, fork lift trucks and dumpsters. All of these have the potential for a fire to start and develop within the engine compartment, as well as in the cab. Some fires occur due to build up of waste around the rotating parts and manoeuvrable tools, but as these are outside the enclosed body of the unit, they cannot be tackled using automatic fire suppression systems.

Traditional approach For many years, the leading suppliers in the UK and Europe of mobile plant fire suppression systems for engine compartments and cabs have been in North America. Amerex, Ardent/Ansul and Kidde/Chubb largely cornered the market until recent times. However, a number of European suppliers such as Reacton (through Fireward), DAFO (through Fireshield), Rotarex, Firetrace International and Fogmaker International have stepped up to compete. The traditional approach has been to use

dry chemical powder as the ‘knockdown’ agent to extinguish the fire, actuated by pressurised tube or linear wire heat detection. Dry powder has characteristics that allow it to flow around the obstructions within an engine compartment to reach hidden spaces. Backed by FM Global’s 5970 fire suppression approvals standard, the single agent dry powder systems have held the high ground for many years. However, new ways of thinking have arisen in

the transportation fire suppression sector, along with a new certification option. Factors that have driven alternative approaches include these: • dry powder has a reputation for settling and coagulating within the cylinder, so old systems don’t always activate correctly. Older style systems need three monthly maintenance visits to agitate the powder and make sure it remains free flowing. Operators who don’t keep up with their maintenance contracts are suffering failures on an almost daily basis across the UK DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 49


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