Com­mon fire safety mis­takes that may be putting forestry ve­hi­cles at risk

Australian Forests and Timber - - FIRE SUPPRESSION - By Steve Ox­ley, Na­tional Prod­uct Man­ager – Ve­hi­cle Sys­tems, Wormald

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 or call 133 166.

Wormald sup­pres­sion sys­tem on forestry ve­hi­cle.

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