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As major wildfires like that on Saddleworth Moor continue to devastate the land and threaten wildlife, scientists are warning that thanks to climate change, this may become a more frequent event in Northern Europe including the UK and Ireland. Extreme heat and strong winds are the conditions that facilitate this kind of fire, and fire and rescue services, along with the army have had a real struggle to contain this latest blaze.
Professor of fire science at Imperial College London, Guillermo Rein, stated that according to recent studies, “climate change is expected to increase the fire frequency and severity of wildfires in Europe”.
These fires are also believed to exacerbate climate change due to the amount of stored carbon within the UK’s peatlands being released through fire. Since the last ice age, peatlands have helped to cool our climate and retain carbon, fires however could reverse that effect and return the carbon to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
There are other concerns associated with these recent fires too, as raised by Prof Susan Page of the University of Leicester. She said that “For the Saddleworth Moor fire, a further concern is the industrial legacy of this region, with the peat soils containing the fallout from many years of heavy industry in surrounding towns and cities. The peat soils contain this pollution legacy in the form of increased levels of heavy metals, which will also be liberated into the smoke by the fires.”
This fire has covered seven square miles across (18 sq km), with the active “fire front” stretching up to 2.5 miles (4km), and firefighters say it could rage for weeks. People within the region have been advised to stay indoors and keep windows shut, and those attempting to travel to the area to help are being discouraged, as it is too dangerous.
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Fire does not discriminate, so wherever you live, how old you are or how much money you have, there is still a chance of a fire occurring in your home or business premises. It is a major fear of many homeowners, although when the thought pops into our heads, we are highly likely to shrug it off and avoid thinking about it. This means that frequently, when a fire does break out, most people are not prepared for the consequent devastation.
Even where nobody has been hurt during the fire, you could be left to cope with emotions like frustration, anger, sadness and despair. You will probably have lost many valuable belongings along with a lifetime of memories. You may be in a bit of as fog, as you wonder what your next step should be. In these situations it’s important to try and focus on what needs doing and how to move forward.
One of the first things to do if you have had a fire in East London, is to contact your insurance company agent, who will advise on how to proceed, and what should be at the top of the list. Such as:-
- Securing a place to stay either with friends, relatives or temporary accommodation, perhaps in apartments that charge lower rates for people displaced by disaster.
- Once the affected area is deemed safe by the fire service, taking action to minimise further damage to the property. This may include removing debris and sealing windows and doors by covering with wood, metal etc, plus getting rid of water via a pump.
- Not turning utilities like gas, electricity on until the fire service tell you otherwise.
- Making the compulsory lists of items damaged or lost to the fire and their value, it helps if you have evidence such as receipts, digital invoices etc.
- Hiring the services of a professional to inspect and assess the damage.
While it might seem like the end of the world, fire happens to many people and it is possible to get over it and move on with your life.
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Chemical plants pose a great risk when it comes to fires and blasts, in fact they present more of a threat than nuclear plants, as they can produce extremely intense explosions. This is due to the presence of chemicals like petroleum, as anybody who has foolishly tried to boost a barbecue or bonfire with this type of substance will agree.
More than 22,000 non-residential fires are reported each year in the UK, with a significant number occurring in the workplace. The consequences of this are loss of life, injury, post traumatic stress disorder, destruction of premises and loss of business. Fire and blast protection systems are crucial in this kind of environment, if disaster and injury are to be averted. It is also essential that all staff frequenting the premises, are aware of safety procedures, and report any potential hazards. Many of the past incidences of petrochemical fires could have been easily avoided if those working in the environment had known what to look out for.
By their very nature these fires are usually large, complex and difficult to subdue, due to there being a continual source of combustible fuel available. In these surroundings, knowledge of ignition risks and how a fire is likely to spread are especially helpful. A major cause of fires in these settings is combustible dust, which can be produced by a vast range of processes including chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, woodworking, metalworking and food processing. In fact just about everything can create some form of dust with the potential to cause a hazard.
Any work which produces sparks, such as welding, torch cutting, heating and soldering has immense potential to cause a blast or fire. Flammable liquids and gasses such as acrylic acid, crude oil and other volatile substances are dangerous if not treated with due care and attention. Machinery and equipment that is not maintained sufficiently creates a risk, making regular inspection and cleaning imperative. Another significant cause of fire in this type of workplace is electrical malfunction, which again calls for stringent checks.
Fire prevention training and the establishment of emergency procedures are extremely important in petrochemical plants to ensure the safety of all.
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Fires in Nuclear Plants are some of the most critical, although many do not necessarily result in catastrophes such as radiation leakage. The French nuclear power station fire earlier in the year is in this category, as there were no major casualties, although five people were treated for smoke inhalation, and the fire was quickly brought under control. The plant is run by EDF Energy, who are also the main contractor on the new UK £18 billion power station located at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The fire at the Flamanville site in Northern France started early in the morning, in the non-nuclear area of the turbine hall, and caused a minor explosion. Although there was no immediate danger the nearby reactor was turned off for safety. The fire was extinguished by the time the fire fighting team arrived, and authorities say there is no risk of any danger associated with the blaze. The cause of the fire is still however unknown, although sabotage has been ruled out.This type of event serves to emphasise the importance of preventative measures in this kind of environment along with the need for strict procedures on discovery of fire hazards or fire ignition.
A new reactor is currently under construction at Flamanville, originally intended to open in 2012, it is now over budget and expected to go into operation in 2018. This will be the same design as the one at Hinkley Point C, and will be the first new nuclear reactor built in the UK for two decades. EDF also plan to build another new plant at Sizewell in Suffolk.
Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute at University College London, said that although the blast at the Flamanville reactor was not disastrous, it would still add pressure for EDF regarding safety inspections. He said “It’s the cherry on the top of the horrendous time that French nuclear is having.” Many feel that a switch to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power is favourable, reducing the reliance on nuclear power and providing a more eco friendly solution.
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Perhaps one of the most dangerous situations at sea is fire, as there is nowhere for those on board to run and no chance of immediate outside help unless a port is nearby. Any fire damage to the structure or mechanisms of the vessel could be catastrophic and seriously life threatening. Advanced fire suppression technology and high performance fire resistant materials have been developed to help tackle any fires on ships or boats, and are extremely effective. This should not however be used as a substitute for properly delivered fire fighting and prevention training. Fires can be caused in a number of ways, including mechanical failure, accident or carelessness.
In recent years, infrared technology, sophisticated fire fighting systems and revolutionary extinguishing agents have meant that shipboard fires are less likely. Breathing apparatus and protective equipment have improved safety incredibly in the marine environment. A strict regulatory framework is in place globally concerning marine safety, which came about as the waters got gradually busier.
Fires at sea can be caused by a variety of events such as collisions, accidents, engine failure and of course ignition of cargo. Static structures or rigs out to sea are also potentially volatile as many contain gas or oil. Coastal waters all over the world feature offshore wind farms, tidal and wave power renewable energy installations, military facilities and scientific research and monitoring stations. All of which are potentially at risk of hazards like fire and where swift action is needed to limit damage and injury. Modern chemical and engineering applications have had a significant effect in reducing the devastating consequences of fires at sea.
When it comes to fire extinction, 3F are the experts with over 20 years experience in their field, and are committed to offering a powerful, environmentally friendly, cost effective solution to customers internationally. They have in excess of 30 foam fire fighting products in their range including standard, alcohol resistant, Hi EX and eco friendly foams. 3F now also offer purpose designed sea vessels to fight fire at sea or in port and to control any pollution produced.
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Any kind of oil spill, whether it’s out to sea, around coastlines, in rivers or near harbours can be potentially devastating for the local environment particularly birds, fish and marine mammals. When birds are exposed to contaminants like oil in the water their plumage is damaged interfering with its insulation ability and impairing flight. If affected by oil, birds will usually die unless they can be caught and cleaned up, as they cannot feed and have often ingested the oil. Mammals such as otters and seals are affected in a similar way, their coats are covered in oil leading to temperature fluctuations and hypothermia. If the oil gets into their stomach it will cause dehydration and prevent normal digestion.
Efforts to contain oil spills and reduce environmental impact, have resulted in the development of a number of innovative methods and products. One of the most effective is the containment boom or permanent or temporary floating barrier, which comes in a variety of purpose designed forms. They have several functions such as allowing oil to collect in thicker layers, enabling vacuums and skimmers to more easily collect the substance. Booms come in a range of forms and sizes specific to the location and type of water conditions they are intended for.
Booms can hold or slow down the movement of contamination, divert oil to a collection point or cordon off and protect a sensitive area. To counteract the consequences of floating oil pollution at sea, booms are made to be sturdy and quick to set up. One example is the Canarie boom, which has a honeycomb structure, and spacer floats in polyethylene foam, plus a double skirt and ballast chain. It is available with kits used for trawling and mooring the boom. Another containment boom, the versatile Barracuda, can be utilised at sea or within river areas such as estuaries, harbours and open coastal waters. Containment booms are extremely successful and are internationally renowned for efficiency when tackling oil spills.
Specialists in fire protection products 3F, are dedicated to limiting damage to the environment, and promote the manufacture of products which aim to address the outcome of natural and industrial disasters. They believe in active collaboration between companies and organisations to achieve this.
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One of the main priorities here at ABC Macintosh Ltd, is providing fire fighting products and equipment which safely, effectively and swiftly bring fire under control in any situation, while causing minimal environmental damage. As a forward thinking company we are dedicated to reviewing and utilising innovative developments within the industry. We design and manufacture high quality fire fighting products and equipment which are tried and tested by experts in the field. We supply competitively priced and environmentally friendly fire fighting chemicals for fire extinguisher manufacturers, fire extinguishing servicing companies and fire brigades.
All to frequently, we see in the news chemical fires which have presented huge problems where extinction is concerned, not to mention the risk to life and devastating after effects. This type of fire perhaps more than most raises significant fire fighting challenges for all concerned. The UK Fire and Rescue Service need to know that they have access to high performance products and equipment. Hazardous applications within chemical plants, petrochemical plants and the nuclear industry for example can very quickly get out of hand, and lead to life or death situations. These events require exceptionally reliable products and equipment which are not only trouble free to use but which are safe for operators and the environment.
ABC Macintosh provide the solution to this kind of scenario, with a range of products including dry powders, wetting agents, foam concentrates, antifreeze and anti foaming agents. Our equipment includes foam inducers, extinguishers and fire attack systems. This excellent range proves a highly successful, fire suppressing response in the incidence of woodland fires, and petrochemical plant, chemical plant and nuclear plant blazes. Post fire toxic residue or waste is not an issue with our products, and our continuously developed, fully functional equipment means a first rate result.
Equipment such as fire fighting foam and water delivery systems, available from ABC Macintosh has constantly attracted positive ratings and approvals for our manufacturing clients. Call us on 01536 260333.
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There are numerous examples of how crucial a fully operational sprinkler system is in any fire risk situation. A potentially devastating fire was prevented from taking hold recently at a shopping centre in Carlisle. Apparently a defective extractor fan in a lavatory had been left running and began to burn when the building was closed. When the fire and rescue services attended after being alerted by the Automatic Fire Detection System, the fire had already been extinguished by the sprinkler head. This event demonstrates the need for sprinkler protection to be included in lavatories as well as other parts of a building. This is just one of the vast amount of documented incidents in which a disaster was averted. Even where fires have become more established, a sprinkler system while maybe not completely putting a fire out, will usually limit its spread.
Sprinkler systems are described by the UK fire brigade as a ‘potential life saving tool’, and suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is a compulsory requirement for commercial, multi occupancy and non domestic premises in England and Wales. Where this is neglected, an unlimited fine or up to 2 years in prison can be imposed.
Environmental factors are also a consideration as sprinklers reduce the amount of water needed to contain a fire by 0.02% to 17%, and carbon emissions are also minimised in fires where sprinklers were active.
Our web promotion partners Fire Logistics Ltd, specialise in fire prevention, fire risk assessment and fire safety training. They are committed to providing customers with a highly tailored solution for each application including domestic or commercial settings. Fire Logistics Ltd, have brought their expertise to cafes, hotels, factories and private yachts. They are skilled fire prevention specialists managing a long list of high profile clients such as Glaxo Smith Kline, Proctor & Gamble and Alnwick castle.
Call Fire Logistics Ltd and discover how their products and services can benefit you on 0191 230 3647
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ABC MacIntosh is a UK company with an international reputation for the manufacture and supply of effective fire fighting chemicals, foams and specialist equipment. We work closely with fire fighters, fire brigades and high risk industries to produce efficient and environmentally sensitive fire fighting solutions.
We would like to welcome customers, partners and friends to our new blog. Over the coming months ABC MacIntosh hope to share some of our knowledge and experience of fighting fires in the most difficult of environments.
ABC MacIntosh specialise in providing the right fire fighting products and equipment for every environment.
One example of this is in tackling forest fires. Climate change, global warming and an increasingly fragile ecosystem have seen an increase in the number of forest and heathland fires around the world. Forest fires provide a difficult and dangerous challenge for fire fighters and one of the common problems is that forest fires often occur where water is hard to find. A difficult situation is then made worse by the fact that the damage caused by many fire fighting chemicals can be harmful to the environment they are designed to protect.
ABC Macintosh has developed a range of foam concentrates and additives that are highly efficient in combating forest fires. They are environmentally friendly, leaving no toxic wastes or residue once the fire is extinguished.
ABC MacIntosh have an extensive range of fire extinguishers, foams and fire fighting products designed for use in the petrochemical industry. Fluorosurfactant free foams that can be used to extinguish hydrocarbon-based fires are equally effective in treating biofuels, ethanol and ethanol blends. Fluorosurfactant free foams give fire fighters the confidence to tackle chemical fires in any environment.
Fluorosurfactant free foams, dry powders, foam concentrates and wetting agents have also been developed by ABC MacIntosh specifically for use in nuclear facilities.
Having the right foam concentrate, wetting agent, dry powder or surfactant free foam is only part of the solution. ABC MacIntosh has created a range of mobile Fire Attack Systems designed to tackle fires in every environment. Fire Attack Systems are effective for industrial fires and forest fires and can be employed as auxiliary fire fighting units.
For more information visit www.abcmacintosh.co.uk.
Effective & Environmentally Friendly Fire Fighting Solutions
We will be posting some interesting articles soon…