Wormald’s proactive stance on firefighting foam contamination

AFFF fluorine free foamAmidst growing concerns over the environmental impact of fire suppressing foams, Wormald is making changes to ensure we have solutions that limit the risk to environmental or human health while maintaining the highest standard of firefighting response.

Since the 1970s, Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFFs) have been used around the world to rapidly supress and extinguish fires. AFFFs are water-based firefighting foam products used to suppress flammable liquid fires by cooling the fire and coating the fuel, preventing its contact with oxygen.

However, in recent years AFFFs containing fluorine have been identified as having adverse impacts on the environment.  Historically, many of these foams include fluorinated surfactants such as PFOA and PFOS, which are part of a broader group of chemicals called PFAS substances. In response, Wormald has been working on migrating to more environmentally sustainable firefighting foams that are fluorine free.

In taking a proactive stance, Wormald has had its vehicle fire suppression system re-approved using environmentally sensitive fluorine free foam. This new environmentally sensitive foam concentrate is used in Wormald’s foam vehicle suppression system, and foam fire extinguishers. The pre-engineered fluorine free foam system has been approved using Solberg foam concentrate and a new Wormald fluorine foam concentrate. Both concentrates meet the performance requirements of the revised Australian Standard for vehicle fire protection, AS5062 – 2016. With only minor modifications to existing systems, such as an increase in cylinder pressure, these new fluorine foam concentrates are essentially ‘drop in’ replacements for the existing Wormald AFFF concentrate solutions containing fluorine.

Fluorine free foams have the distinct advantage that they can be discharged without the need for containment and disposal.  They also avoid the persistent, bio-accumulative and potentially adverse effects that AFFF concentrates can pose. Wormald will continue to develop solutions for customers who are looking to be more environmentally responsible in the firefighting solutions they use and store on their sites.

For more information on Wormald’s commitment to sustainable fire suppression solutions click https://www.wormald.com.au/environmental-management-fire-fighting-foam

Changes to vehicle fire protection standard AS5062-2006 announced

Wormald_VFS standard 2Owners and operators of mobile and transportable equipment are urged to familiarise themselves with the recently announced changes to Australian Standard AS 5062-2016 Fire protection for mobile and transportable equipment.

With new requirements for maintenance including routine service tolerance frequencies, baseline data reporting and risk assessment, the revised standard promotes improved fire safety for mobile plant used in transport, mining, forestry, civil works and port facilities. Continue reading

Prepare to keep mine sites fire safe

By Garry Kwok, National Technical Services Manager at Wormald

Wormald fire suppression system - heavy vehicles2Considering the hazardous and remote nature of mining operations, mine sites are at a high risk of fire. Therefore, fire protection should be top of mind for mine site supervisors and operations managers.

A Queensland University of Technology study found that between 1990 and 2005, fire and explosions were one of the eight key causes of 85 per cent of mining fatalities in Australia.

Adequate fire protection is not only a financial and regulatory necessity, but an ethical one. Mine site supervisors and operations managers should consider the following to help ensure their sites are fire safe: Continue reading

Reduce fire risk on harvesters and farm machinery

by Steve Oxley, Wormald’s National Product Manager for Vehicle Fire Suppression Systems

modern combine harvester working on a wheat cropSummer may be a few months away, but for anyone working in the harvesting industry now is the time to prepare.  To help reduce the risk of machinery and crop fires, grain growers and contractors should consider the risks and take preventative and precautionary measures.

According to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) each year more than 1000 harvesters catch fire.  Of these, about one per cent or approximately 12 harvesters worth at least $500,000 each are burnt to the ground*.

Dr Graeme Quick, an internationally recognised agricultural engineer, was commissioned by the GRDC to investigate the causes of harvester fires.  Dr Quick reported that the most common cause of harvester fires was in the engine bay, where material can collect on hot components such as the exhaust manifold and turbocharger**.

Considering the size, fuel carrying capacity and cost of today’s farm machinery vehicle owners should protect against fire by installing appropriate vehicle fire suppression systems in accordance with Australian Standard, AS 5062-2006 Fire Protection for Mobile and Transportable Equipment. Fire extinguishers suitable for smaller fires, or fires that may occur outside the risk area should also be installed. Continue reading

Vehicle operators must be prepared to keep passengers fire safe

By John Lynch, general manager of Wormald’s Business Support Services

School children, everyday commuters and sight-seeing tourists – everybody using public transport has the expectation of safe travel, and passengers rely on transport companies and authorities to have appropriate safety provisions in place.

Following recent media reports of a bus fire on Oxford Street in Sydney and a tourist bus fire on Queensland’s Fraser Island, vehicle fire protection is once again a popular topic of conversation.

For vehicle managers, fire safety can pose unique and specific challenges. Many buses and large vehicles have fuel sources and other combustible components that can be in relatively close proximity to the vehicle’s ignition and heat sources, all of which surround the vehicle’s driver and passengers. Vehicle fires can occur for many reasons. For example, according to reports the NSW Office of Transport Safety Investigations believes the Oxford Street bus fire was the result of a cracked pipe which was leaking fuel. Continue reading

Protecting mining vehicles from fire

By John Lynch, general manager, Business Support Services, Wormald

Thousands of vehicles and equipment are operated on mine sites throughout Australia every day.  Excavators, haul trucks, wheel loaders and other specialised equipment spend hours loading and unloading goods and transporting materials.

The risk of fire can be very high considering these vehicles often operate non-stop and have considerable ignition and heat sources – not to mention the goods onboard which can add to the fuel load.  When a fire breaks out in a mining vehicle the results can be dramatic.  It can result in months of downtime, require extensive repair or replacement and most significantly, injury to the operator.

Just this month I saw a report on the Longwalls website about an excavator on a mine site which was destroyed by fire.  Fortunately no-one was injured.  It turned out that the excavator was not fitted with an automatic fire suppression system.  Attempts were made to put out the fire with hand-held extinguishers which – not surprisingly – were unsuccessful and the excavator was destroyed. Continue reading