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maintain their majority in the sector, but the newer players are eroding their market share with enhanced products and new certifications behind them.

When to install? A question often asked is ‘which units of mobile plant should I fit fire suppression to?’ The usual approach taken by fleet managers and operators is to base it on value. A forklift truck worth £25,000 is typically not fitted with automatic fire suppression for the engine compartment, but a backhoe loader worth £100,000 probably will be. This works for mobile plant insurers, but for

property insurers the value of the unit does not really change the fire risk. Any size of unit represents a similar ignition source risk to the waste piles and the assets. The installation cost of a modern fire suppression system can be £2,000 to £6,000 for typical mobile plant seen in use at waste handling sites. In comparison to the potential fire loss in the operator’s building, these installation costs seem quite small. Larger equipment will require larger fire

suppression systems of course, and for the type of equipment seen on landfill sites or construction sites, the unit costs could be £10,000 to £25,000. However, there is little value in having

fire suppression fitted to your mobile plant if there is not enough agent to tackle a fire, the nozzles are not well placed or it is not reliable enough to operate when needed. In future, it is possible that insurers could

require automatic fire suppression to be fitted to all items of mobile plant that have a fire risk potential, irrespective of value. Certainly, insurers will be requiring the fire suppression systems to be SPCR 199 or FM 5970 certified, to evidence efficacy and reliability. Installers will also need to be approved, to ensure that design and installation are being carried out to the required standards.

In conclusion

The main assets in a typical waste handling MRF or transfer station can have significant value, as can the buildings. Whilst traditional automatic sprinkler systems have their part to play as catastrophe protection, it is localised fire suppression systems that keep the extent of damage and disruption to manageable levels for the operators. Protecting the waste piles is a very different

challenge to regular palletised storage found in ‘normal’ warehouses. Fires grow differently


on waste piles, both on the surface and burrowing within. Getting fire suppression water or other agents onto burning waste as early as possible is the key to keeping the level of heat generation down, and to reduce the spread of fire, smoke, heat and embers to other parts of the building. All types and sizes of mobile plant

represent an ignition source risk in a waste handling facility, irrespective of size and value. Having fire suppression on the engine bays and also to protect the drivers in the cabs is a wise fire risk control measure. Make sure the systems that are installed have the highest fire test certifications for heavy mobile plant, and that they are properly designed, installed and maintained by approved contractors. Installing localised fire suppression for

key assets, the waste piles and mobile plant greatly increases the chance of a fire being detected and tackled early. The quicker a fire can be knocked down, the less likely it is to get out of control and cause significant damage or to result in extensive disruption. More than ever before, continuity of

operations for a waste handling site is a priority for operators, and localised fire suppression has an important role to play in achieving that objective

Adrian Simmonds is a senior risk manager of risk solutions at QBE. For more information, see page 5 DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 51

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