By Carolina Curiel
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Kent, UK based Soil & Land Consultants Ltd has launched a new warning system to prevent fires at scrap yards and recycling facilities. The new ‘PREVENTiT’ early warning system monitors temperatures in stockpiles. If any area of the pile approaches dangerous temperatures, the alarm activates, thereby enabling operators to take action even before the fire gets started. PREVENTiT is a new easy-to-use, low-cost fire prevention solution for waste and recycling industry.
According to Soil & Land Consultants Ltd, the main reason for fire at stockpiles is neither arson nor human error. The fire is caused due to spontaneous combustion as a result of the heat generated within the stockpile. Studies have shown that many wastes could self-combust under certain conditions. A pile of materials capable of generating heat could lead to rise in temperature, which in turn may accelerate the speed of reaction, thereby leading to auto-ignition. Manual monitoring mechanisms include careful management of storage times, pile volumes and height, and the temperature of the wastes.
PREVENTiT works through a disposable sensor cable laid across material at various stages as the pile grows in height. The sensors in the cable monitor temperatures in the stockpile transmitting real-time information wirelessly from the monitoring unit to a PC. When any area of the pile approaches dangerous temperatures, the alarm activates so you know exactly when to rotate or move the stock to prevent the risk of fire.
There have been several instances of fire at waste and recycling facilities in the UK during recent times. The stockpile fires have caused millions of pounds of losses for facility owners. The rise in occurrence of such fire incidents has forced the UK government to issue new guidelines for operators of waste metal and non-hazardous waste.
A recent fire at a scrap metal facility at Seaforth docks had caused significant damages, though no injuries were reported. Firefighters from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service had spent almost three days at site to break up the scrap pile to identify the source of the blaze. Six fire engines and two aerial units were deployed to the incident. The fire had exploded from a pile of scrap metal and plastic stored at the site yard. It had sent huge plumes of smoke across the city. It is suspected that the fire was caused by scrap metal and plastics rubbing together and producing sparks.
The Fire Prevention Guidelines aim to minimize the likelihood of a fire happening, steps to extinguish the fire within 4 hours and to minimize the spread of fire within the site and to neighboring sites. It directs the companies to adopt a fire prevention plan that details the fire prevention measures that must be put in place to deal with fire at site. The staff as well as contractors working on site should be well aware about the plan and must have easy access to it. In addition, regular exercises must be conducted to test how well the plan works.
According to the UK Government Agency, the plan must identify all possible causes of fire at the site. The fire prevention plan must also cover the activities at site, site plans and maps.