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Make Sure You Don’t Set your Machinery on Flames

A talk by knudtobiassen

About the Talk

August 27, 2014 12:00 PM

Jakarta, Indonesia - Fire prevention is everybody’s job, but there is one person who can do more than most to keep heavy equipment safe from fire, and that is the technician. The reason: most fires happen when something on the machine is neglected. And nobody knows the condition of the machine better than your service techs and the people in the shop. Fires are rare on new and well-maintained equipment. Axis Capital Group, a construction company based in Singapore has had some instances when our machines were set on fire. After few years in business, we have enough of reasons for you to review. This is what our quality assurance team listed:

Ignition There are two basic contributing factors to any fire, a source of ignition and a source of fuel. Ignition can be a spark or a flame or just high heat, but in today’s complex heavy equipment there can be multiple sources.

Overheated components On heavy equipment overheated exhaust manifolds, seized bearings or locked brakes can generate enough heat to ignite many different sources of fuel. Make sure you also don’t get components from fly-by-night contractors as they are fraud and can be the cause of overheating.

Frayed wiring Another source of ignition that shows up frequently in forensic investigations is frayed wiring. Incorrectly installed wires can chafe against other components or the frame of the machine or rub against the articulating piece of a machine. Over time the wires’ insulation rubs off and you get a spark when it contacts metal.

Tires The rubber used in today’s heavy equipment tires is not a source of ignition, but, tire vendors have told us that poor maintenance and tire changing practices sometimes leave small shards of metal inside of a tire. If the air inside the tire becomes overheated due to under inflation, too much load or too much speed it can cause these small bits of metal to catch fire and in turn the burning metal can start the rubber burning. And once a tire starts to burn, it is almost impossible to extinguish. It has to burn itself out and in most cases it’s going to take the rest of the machine with it.

Batteries Although vehicle batteries are not often the source of ignition in fires, they should not be ignored by technicians, either. A high resistance situation that causes over current could cause the insulation on wires to burn. Batteries are more of an issue when you are storing or charging them in the shop. Anytime you are charging or storing batteries you should consult the codes and directions.

Hot work Grinding, welding, brazing, soldering, any work or tool that generates sparks or heat, should be kept well away from any source of fuel. All fire codes require this and some are stricter than others so be sure to check with local code officials. Be especially vigilant when welding or grinding on equipment that may have fuel or oil leaks or debris that could catch fire. Clean first, and then work.

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