Fire & Forensic
Industrial fires and explosions cost companies and governments millions of pounds every year, not to mention loss of life, which can’t be described in monetary terms. Even small fires in industrial facilities can cause loss of product, time and sometimes injury.
AMA fire experts have extensive experience in the investigation of industrial and process fires.
These disasters happen for many reasons, process or mechanical failure of plant, and the human element. Managers and employees, despite being aware of the risks that surround them at work every day, can become complacent. When dealing with the risk of fires and explosions, it’s important to understand the most common causes.
Dust is a major cause of fire in food manufacturing, woodworking, chemical manufacturing, metalworking, pharmaceuticals, and just about every other industry you can name. The reason is that just about everything, including food, dyes, chemicals, and metals – even materials that aren’t fire risks in larger pieces – have the potential to be combustible in dust form.
Although hot work is commonly associated with welding and torch cutting, there are many other activities that pose a fire hazard including grinding, incineration, heating, torch on felting and soldering. Hot work is also a major cause in dust explosions, as the sparks generated from the work can ignite particles in the surrounding area.
Flammable Liquids and Gases
These fires, which often occur at chemical process plants, can be disastrous. There is certainly some danger inherent in any work involving flammable liquids and gases, but safety precautions should be implemented to mitigate these risks.
It is essential that the safety information for every flammable element on your premises is recognised and followed. This safety information is available on the material safety data sheet (MSDS) that accompany such products.
Equipment and Machinery
Faulty equipment and machinery are major causes of industrial fires. Any mechanical equipment can become a fire hazard due to friction between moving parts. Even seemingly innocuous equipment can be a hazard under the right circumstances. In some cases, the equipment least likely to be thought of as a fire risk turns out to be the biggest problem.
Electrical hazards that can cause fires include wiring that is exposed and/or damaged, overloaded circuits, extension cords that are overloaded or damaged, overheating, component failure and static discharge. Any of these hazards can cause a spark or become a heat source, which can serve as an ignition source for combustible items.
There is increasing instances of products self-heating, leading to fires. This is particularly applicable to industrial recycling plants. Common examples of materials that can self-ignite include linseed oil rags, coal dust, hay, wood chips, manure, charcoal and latex. Lithium batteries are also dangerous if the terminals are shorted together. A short will induce thermal runaway inside the cell, leading to the cell igniting with explosive force.
Obtaining the right expert is critical to ensuring your interests are protected and any liability is correctly identified and mitigated whenever possible. AMA can provide experienced experts for your case.
Case Study: Commuter Train Fire
A fire in the roof of a Metro train threatened the substantial contract for the train manufacturers. Our client was the supplier of the AC units for the trains and seemed particularly vulnerable as the burn patterns appeared to implicate one of their units as the source.
Our expert was able not only to fully exonerate our client and find the true cause of the fire, but also show the path of fire spread via elements of construction and materials.
From this successful outcome, our client’s liability was thereby reduced to zero.
AMA Provided: –
Fire Investigator (fire / forensic experts)