Who are you?
William Furniss, compliance health and safety manager at Cawleys Waste Management, one of Luton’s oldest family-owned businesses and employer of 200 staff.
What is your history in the waste industry?
My first job in 1989 was as health and safety co-ordinator for Avon County Council. I also worked for an international waste management organisation for 10 years as their UK logistics health and safety manager. I have worked for Cawleys for just over a year.
What did you buy and why?
We bought a state-of-the-art PYROsmart fire detection and foam fire suppression system from Helios Systems for our MRF. The set-up is a combined camera and software system which precisely detects temperature irregularities in realtime.
Cawleys is the first waste management company in the UK to install, within a building, a high-tech heat detection system combined with foam fire suppression equipment.
What were you looking for?
A fully automated system that used aqueous fire fighting foam as the suppression agent rather than water. We needed it to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
How did you research your purchase?
Through discussions with Helios, a specialist fire prevention business, so it could build a system that exactly matched our requirements.
How many options did you consider and what were they?
We discounted traditional water sprinkler systems that were triggered by sensor bulbs in favour of thermal imaging with targeted foam cannon suppression.
What did the equipment have to achieve?
An absolutely reliable and automatic fire detection and suppression system able to cope with the volumes of waste being processed but minimising liquid run-off.
“Cawleys is the first UK waste management firm to install, within a building, a heat detection system combined with foam fire suppression.”
How does it work?
The system consists of a sensitive infrared thermal imaging camera and a video camera in an enclosed casing. Using a specially developed pan and tilt drive, the system constantly scans radiometric high-resolution data of the area in the MRF being monitored.
As waste material enters through the plant’s reception area, the scanning will be able to detect ‘waste hotspots’. For example, lithium batteries accidentally disposed of in general waste can cause a hotspot, are more likely to ignite, and have caused a number of waste fires at other plants.
All the recorded data is assimilated to a detailed thermographic panoramic image using patented software.
Once the hotspots have been detected, foam cannons mounted above the waste streams are automatically triggered, repositioning themselves to target the exact hotspot with fire-fighting foam.
Were there any particular challenges to finding the right equipment?
Yes – we changed the foam cannon manufacturer midway through our initial field trials at the recommendation of Helios.
And due to the capital expenditure, we wanted to carry out thorough and extensive trials so, from concept to installation and commissioning took around 14 months. Helios understood our position on this and worked closely with us to ensure we got the right system.
Were there any other considerations to the purchase?
We wanted to ensure that the system offered the reassurance and peace of mind of reliability for the safety of our staff.
How does the equipment fit in with the company’s future plans?
The equipment will ensure that we have the ability to detect fires and extinguish them before there is any significant damage to the building, ensuring business continuity.
Is the equipment future-proofed?
This system meets with the Environment Agency and the fire authorities’ expectations as part of a workable and environmentally sound fire prevention plan.