Common fire safety mistakes that may be putting forestry vehicles at risk
VEHICLE FIRES are a significant risk for the forestry industry and can be costly when they occur. Owners and operators of forestry equipment are urged to be vigilant, especially as Australia has experienced a series of heatwaves over the summer and severe bushfire danger periods.
It is imperative that fire risks are contained and managed to help minimise the serious social and economic impacts of large scale fire loses. These go beyond timber plantation owners: a fire can destroy crops and valuable assets, result in costly downtime and affect local employment, and put the lives of staff, drivers and surrounding communities at risk.
As an industry that relies
Steve Oxley, Wormald’s National Product Manager for Vehicle Fire Suppression Systems. Steve is responsible for vehicle system design and development, troubleshooting, fire risk assessments and sales and training both nationally and internationally.
heavily on mobile plant, it is important that plantation owners and operators implement checks and balances to identify and address common issues that may increase the risk of fire. These may include:
Failing to undertake routine and regular maintenance. Equipment can operate for up to 23 hours a day, leaving little time to inspect and maintain vehicles. This may mean a burst hydraulic hose or faulty fittings in an engine compartment go undetected, which can quickly cause a fire.
Introducing a system of checks for downtime periods can help to ensure vehicles are adequately maintained. It can also raise staff awareness of human errors that may increase fire risk, such as leaving cleaning cloths on hot surfaces.
Operating a vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s recommended time to do so. Always observe the specifications set out by original equipment manufacturers. This includes ensuring fuel and oil lines and hydraulics are installed and routed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications so that, in the event of a burst or leak, flammable fuels are less likely to come into contact with a hot surface.
Taking an irregular or cursory approach to assessing fire risks, which can increase the chance that hazards may be missed. As part of a broader fire protection strategy, plantation managers are advised to undertake a thorough and documented assessment of vehicle fire risks. Working in conjunction with a fire protection specialist and relevant stakeholders, they should aim to identify both common fire hazards and less obvious ones.
These may include fuel, coolant or oil leaking onto hot exhaust manifolds or turbochargers; engine or turbo failure; tyre pyrolysis; or hot vehicle exhaust igniting exposed fuels. More discreet hazards may include areas where combustible or flammable gases may build up or human error.
Failing to install suitable vehicle fire suppression systems. Vehicle fire suppression systems can reduce the impact of fire in vehicles, yet some operators are not vigilant about installing these systems.
Vehicle fire suppression systems are designed to suppress fires which occur in high risk areas, such as the engine and transmission compartments and hydraulic areas of a vehicle. By providing early detection and warning, the systems allow the operator time to safely evacuate from the vehicle, while also suppressing the fire to help minimise damage to the vehicle.
Wormald offers a range of proven and flexible vehicle fire suppression systems to protect mobile plant, equipment and vehicles across the forestry industry. Using risk assessment processes that are based on Australian Standard AS5062-2016, Wormald works with forestry operators to determine an appropriate vehicle fire suppression system.
For more information
visit www.wormald.com.au or call 133 166.
Wormald suppression system on forestry vehicle.