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Innovative waste fire tackling methods researched

The fire service is investigating innovative ways of putting out waste site blazes, including the creation of a ‘fire vortex’.

Fire vortexes occur naturally, usually in open rural areas such as the Australian bush. Where blazes take hold, extreme heat sucks gases and ash upwards to create a tornado-like effect.

Chief Fire Officers Association strategic lead Mark Andrews told MRW: “When we come across these significant waste fires, it can take millions of litres of water and hundreds of fire-fighter hours to put them out, or we can consider doing a controlled burn but that can take many weeks.”

Andrews said the tests will use positive pressure fans to increase the rate at which these fires burn and create a vortex.

The theory is that this would create a quicker and cleaner controlled burn, and the smoke and gases produced would be drawn upwards rather than blown around.

He said the approach required a “significant” amount of research, as well as Environment Agency assessment of effects on the environment and local communities, before being adopted.

In theory, the vortex could be used to rip off the impenetrable outer char layer of a fire to allow access to the burning material inside, which fire-fighters could then put out.

  • The latest issue of MRW contains a detailed look at the current testing project

Readers' comments (1)

  • The waste industry suffers almost one fire every day according to research from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services. Innovative measures are needed in the waste sector to control fires - but even simple facilities, such as installing a roof canopy over waste materials, can simply cut the fire risk altogether. A roof canopy prevents airborne ignition and improves ventilation decreasing the likelihood of spontaneous combustion.

    Robert Alvarez, De Boer Sales Director – Commercial

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