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Reducing Fire Risk at Waste Management & Recycling Sites




Opgal staff writers

published published

May 11, 2017


Fire Detection

Humans produce massive amounts of garbage each year. In the US alone, 700,000 tons of trash are produced per day.  All that garbage must go somewhere, and much of it ends up in waste management and recycling sites. These sites are at constant risk of fire. As the waste pile decomposes, chemical reactions that happen deep under the surface produce hot gases that are extremely volatile. In recycling facilities, highly combustible “fluff” materials can burn down a facility in minutes. Self-combustion is a constant threat in these facilities, and usually, by the time a fire is identified, the conditions are already such that the damage is widespread.

In addition to the financial damage these fires cause, there are serious environmental issues to consider. Due to the large amount of runoff from firefighter’s efforts to put out these fires, waste fires are a danger to the environment and public health. Stringent regulations of emissions from these facilities make early detection necessary, as unchecked fires could lead to large fines or even plant closures.

The most dangerous times are when the facilities are unmanned, as an unobserved fire could completely ruin an operation. In order to protect these facilities, several needs must be met. First, any detection system has to work equally as well at night as it does during the day. Next, the systems should be able to integrate seamlessly with the existing framework, and they should have IP capabilities, so that they can connect back to the main control center or be accessed remotely. They also need to have a very low occurrence of false alarms.

The best hotspot, smoke, flame, and fire detection solutions are thermal cameras with fire detection analytics. Thermal cameras that have all of the qualities above are an effective technology for fire and loss prevention. They can detect a tiny rise in temperature, and when something in the region of interest passes a pre-set temperature threshold, an alarm is sent to the control center. Alerts can also be sent to anyone with remote access, and can be programmed to alert the local fire department as well, bringing the response time down significantly and saving millions in lost property damage. They can also lower insurance costs for facility owners and managers, as they significantly reduce the risk of massive fires, currently the biggest threat to these operations.

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