Six tips for protecting earthmoving equipment from fire

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

It is vital to ensure appropriate fire safety systems and procedures are in place when operating large earthmoving vehicles and equipment, writes the team at Wormald.

Six tips for protecting earthmoving equipment from fire
Wormald Foam Water Spray Fire Suppression System fitted to a Komatsu WA500 loader operating in the quarry industry.

Mobile earthmoving equipment — including large hydraulic excavators — can have highly combustible components which are in close proximity to ignition and heat sources.  They also operate using flammable materials such as hydraulic fluids that, when used under pressure, can easily ignite while in use.

For these reasons, we recommend the following essential tips to keep such mobile earthmoving equipment safe from fire:

  1. Understand the appropriate compliance and regulation requirements to help mitigate a safety breach, which can incur significant costs and put staff at risk
  2. Have a thorough risk assessment performed in accordance with Australian Standard, AS 5062-2006: Fire Protection for Mobile & Transportable Equipment to identify fire risks and determine the most appropriate fire protection systems specific for your mobile equipment, its specific combustible fuel loads, heat/ignition sources, and the hazards that encompass the operating environment that it will be in.
  3. Install the correct vehicle fire suppression (VFS) system(s) and ensure that suitable fire extinguishers have been installed on the mobile earthmoving equipment, and they are regularly maintained.
  4. Ensure that the VFS system is routinely serviced in accordance with AS 5062-2006. Wormald’s routine service provisions help ensure that the systems are ready to detect and operate in the critical event of a fire.
  5. Provide appropriate signage for all hazards and stored fire protection equipment and ensure fire extinguishers in cabins are clearly marked.
  6. Maintain ongoing training to help your team to confidently respond in the event of a fire. This will help to minimise the impact of a fire and provides an opportunity to walk through safe evacuation procedures. Wormald suggests including fire safety training in all new staff inductions so that all personnel are fully briefed on fire safety from the outset.

Regarding the vehicle fire suppression (VFS) systems referred to in point 3, Wormald has a range that includes the Foam Water Spray system that features the proven fire fighting abilities of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). 

The system uses a stream of foam water spray to rapidly suppress flames and cool hot surfaces. It smothers fuel and oil-spill fires and prevents re-ignition. 

The Ansul A-101 Vehicle Powder System discharges a dry powder known as Foray into risk areas to suppress fires.  This solution is suited to three dimensional liquid fuel fires.

The Ansul Dual Agent System can be utilised for larger excavators/shovels, blast hole drills, trucks and loaders, as most of these contain a large amount of diesel and hydraulic fuels which can quickly fuel a fire.

This system utilises a dry powder and a wet chemical in combination. The former provides the fast knock-down of the fire, while the latter cools the heated components to reduce the likelihood of the fire re-igniting.

All systems are installed with automatic detection and actuation systems, as well as cabin and ground level actuators, allowing the operator to manually activate the fire suppression system from either the cabin or at ground level if required. All are Activfire listed to be compliant to AS 5062-2006.

Wormald is a leading provider of fire protection solutions and training, and has been protecting people and property since 1889. Call 133 166 or visit www.wormald.com.au

 

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