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The Burning Question – Mobile Plant Machinery

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Few waste management sites would be able to operate without mobile plant machinery. As an operations-critical asset, it’s crucial to ensure that suitable systems and procedures are in place for their protection.

the burning question - mobile plant machinery

Common Causes of Engine Bay Fires

1. Hydraulic Lines

Hydraulic lubricants have a spontaneous combustion temperature of as low as 250°C. In the event of a leak in the engine compartment, the oil can come in contact with surfaces above 600°C, which causes it to burst into flames immediately. With a constant supply of flammable liquid, fires can be extremely vicious.

2. Build-up of solid deposits (Dust)

When working in dusty environments typical of the waste management industry, dirt, and dust are built up in engine compartments. Due to the hot surfaces, the material can be heated to spontaneous combustion temperature and quickly spread to other parts of the compartment.

3. Electrical equipment

Regular checks of the engine bay components can help identify areas of wear. Worn hydraulic lines, electrical cables, and associated parts can be a sure sign of imminent failure, resulting in a fire. As the saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed,” any parts replacements identified by a quick check can be actioned to ensure a fire is less likely to happen.

How to protect against vehicle fires?

1. Regular Component Assessments

Regular checks of the engine bay components can help identify areas of wear. Worn hydraulic lines, electrical cables and associated parts can be a sure sign of imminent failure resulting in a fire. As the saying goes “Forewarned is forearmed” and any parts replacements identified by a quick check can be actioned to ensure a fire is less likely to happen.

2. Effective detection solutions

Effective detection solutions are essential in identifying fires quickly when they occur. One of the best is a linear heat detection cable. This small and insignificant red cable has two wires parallel to each other, separated by heat-sensitive polymers that soften at a certain temperature, allowing the wires to touch, creating a short circuit that triggers an alarm and discharges the suppression system.

3. Effective Suppression Systems

There are two main types of suppression agent: Powder and Foam.

1. Powder

One of the oldest engine bay suppression systems is powder. It displaces the oxygen in the engine bay and covers the components with a layer of solid particles. However, it has no cooling effects, so re-ignition is risky if the components are still hot enough. In addition, the agent is abrasive, corrosive, and very hard to clean away properly – which can harm the very engine bay it is trying to protect.

2. Foam

Foam is the best suppression agent. It is so effective because it removes all three elements required to start a fire in the first place – Heat, Fuel, and Oxygen. The liquid-based agent impregnates the accumulations of solid material, cools the hot surfaces, and displaces the oxygen by creating a thin film over the top of the material to suffocate the fire. It means that there is a significantly reduced chance of re-ignition.

Conclusion

In conclusion, regular checks and maintenance of mobile plant machinery are as necessary as suitable and effective detection and suppression systems. However, foam is the recommended option for suppression systems.

For more information on our market-leading solutions, contact us on +44 (0)1234 357357 or email sales@blazequel.com.

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