Although there have been facility fires in the waste and recycling industry for years, the problem is just now being looked at more closely. In a recent article in International Fire Protection magazine, Ryan Fogelman, vice president of strategic partnerships for Fire Rover, provides a detailed outline of the problem.
During the past 12 months, he has consolidated 347 “reported” fires published by a news outlet as waste and recycling operations within both the U.S. and Canada. And based on recent research, he has found that more than 40 percent of waste and recycling facilities in the U.S. have experienced a fire incident within the past 12 months.
International Fire Protection magazine has more details:
With the risks of inherent fire only increasing, we need to develop and install solutions that can mitigate the fires as early in the process as possible. Especially when the materials we are processing in the waste and recycling industry are unpredictable.
There is certainly no simple answer to that question, but it is an issue that needs addressing. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an epidemic, “as an outbreak or product of sudden rapid spread, growth or development.” Although we have been faced with facility fires in the waste and recycling industry for years, we are just now seeing the real extent of the problem.
According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) between 2009 and 2013: “US fire departments responded to an estimated average of 37,000 fires at industrial or manufacturing properties each year, with annual losses from these fires estimated at 18 civilian deaths, 279 civilian injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage.” In an article penned by Stephen Watkins, “Preventing the Five Major Causes of Industrial Fires and Explosions” that appeared in Occupational Health & Safety in February of 2017, he states that the five main causes of manufacturing and industrial fires are: (1) hot works; (2) dust explosions; (3) flammable liquids and gasses; (4) faulty equipment and machinery, and; (5) electrical hazards. Although these risks certainly need to be accounted for, there is a proliferation of unique risks that we face in our waste and recycling operations whether you are recycling or processing metals, plastics, waste, metals, chemicals, C&D, paper, rubber, organics and hazardous materials.