At Industrial Access Bulk Materials, we put out the fires that your local fire department cannot. We offer inert gas purges with nitrogen and/or CO2 along with other solutions to put out the fires inside of your storage vessels.
Most times, these fires are slow-burning and frustrating to everyone involved; some cases, though, can lead to raging fires and explosions. Several factors can contribute to fires occurring in storage structures. Sometimes it’s related to unloading equipment but at times spontaneous ignition inside the silage may occur. However, regular maintenance and procedures to ensure proper safety measures and moisture levels are met can prevent most of these occurrences.
How to prevent storage structure fires
Several maintenance methods should be used to ensure you’re safe from fire risk. When you empty your storage structure for cleaning, you should always inspect the walls of your structure, the structure door, and the unloader system. If something needs a repair, make sure to take care of it as it can escalate to a larger issue, or potentially a fire. If you have an oxygen-limiting silo, it’s also important to perform pressure tests regularly. If air can leak in, you’re at a higher risk for a structure fire.
Additional precautions are smart to take when it comes to harvesting and storing forages. While some are specific to the material being held, below are a few of the general ones to keep in mind:
Keep drying time as short as possible – this reduces respiration
Leave the silo sealed for at least 14 days, allowing time for fermentation
If possible, unload 2-6 inches per day – this minimizes the chance of spoilage which lessens your risk of fire due to a lack of hot bacterial action
Make sure to discard deteriorated silage – this ensures any fuel source created is gone
What to do if a fire happens
A fire in your storage structure likely means lost valuable assets. This is why it’s important to find the source of the fire and find it early. After harvesting, it’s most common for fires to occur within the first three weeks. During these three weeks is when fermentation and heating occur.
Of course, if you recognize a fire, the first step is to call your local fire department and explain the fire as best you can. The scene of this type of fire is very dangerous and could have toxic gases so do not try to put out the fire inside your storage structure yourself. However, there are a few steps you can take while you wait for emergency services. You can close the bottom of the chute, cover any openings with noncombustible material, remove livestock in any close vicinity, and spray water around the structure to minimize the risk of spreading.
To learn more about how to best avoid a storage structure fire or for help with post-fire clean-up, call Industrial Access Bulk Materials for more information.