Waste facilities represent a vital function in society, but fires occur regularly. This study provides a knowledge base on risks associated with fires in waste facilities. By contacting the industry and making a literature survey, we have identified measures that can prevent fire and limit the extent of fire damage and environmental impact.
In the report, we present different types of waste facilities and waste fractions in Norway today, we look at relevant regulations and guidelines, and characteristics of fires in waste facilities. Here, we have studies statistics on the number and extent of fires, common sources of ignition and fire ignition in different fractions. We have studied recent, large fires in waste facilities, to investigate what happened and learning points from the incidents.
Some key findings:
- High-risk waste types have been found to be general, residual waste, batteries (especially batteries not correctly sorted), electrical and electronic (EE) waste, as well as paper, paperboard and cardboard. General, residual waste stands out as an important focus area for reducing the overall fire risk at Norwegian waste facilities, both based on reported frequency of fire ignition and potential consequences with regard to equipment, downtime, environment and health.
- Common sources of ignition have been found to be composting (self-ignition), thermal runaway in batteries, heat friction by grinding, human activity and unknown cause.
- Any major fire, regardless of the type of waste burned, could potentially lead to the release of pollutants into the air, water or soil. All smoke from fires can be harmful to humans and exposure to it must be taken seriously. There is a need for more knowledge and expertise in assessing emissions and environmental consequences in connection with firefighting.
- Increased use of indoor storage is motivated by consideration for the environment and neighbours, but it may conflict with fire safety, especially because it restricts the access for the fire fighters and because of possible high heat stress on the load-bearing structure of the building housing the waste.
- Key measures that should be prioritized are detection and monitoring, limiting the amounts of waste, tidiness, sufficient training, reception control, available and properly dimensioned fire extinguishing equipment, as well as solutions to collect extinguishing water in order to prevent the release of environmental toxins.
The study is funded by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB), the Norwegian Environment agency and the Norwegian Building Authority.
You may find the report, in Norwegian with English summary here (pdf)