At around 7 p.m., a fire broke out in a forage grinder located in a 1,200 m² building on a farm animal feed plant. The outbreak triggered an audible alarm that was heard by the press operator. The operator saw flames exiting the grinder as he approached and he triggered the sprinkler system above the grinding bowls. The production system stopped automatically. The smoke vents were opened, the safety instructions were in place (gas valve and lagoon valve closed, spraying down with hose reels). External responders were called in to assist. The flames then spread to an electrical panel. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze at around 8:30 p.m. and then cleared the premises. Three employees, suffering from smoke inhalation, were treated on site.
The fire was attributed to the presence of scrap metal or stones in the bales of hay. The friction caused by these elements in the grinder created sparks, resulting in the fire.
Following an analysis of the risks involved, the operators and supervisors are planning corrective actions and compiling a cause tree. A preventive maintenance program for the equipment has been implemented which includes the recording of the operations performed and an indication of the state of wear. Regular rounds by operators have been established at the press level (a check is performed on an hourly basis). Operators must remain vigilant regarding the presence of foreign objects in the bales of forage and suspicious noises during grinding operations. The fire-fighting system has been improved with automatic triggering of sprinkler heads and bypass for manual activation. The operator intends to add the following:
- a firewall between the bowl hangar and the adjoining hall,
- a gas supply shut-off valve close to the tank, as the existing one was close to the boiler.
The operator is also considering having a mechanical claw built to remove the fodder from the bowl in the event of a fire. Finally, the personnel’s fire risk awareness is reinforced through tests and exercises conducted 2 to 3 times a year. All staff are equipped with beepers or internal phones.