Heavy machinery is vulnerable to fire due to the components within the machines as well as the materials that are typically around or being worked with. Horizontal Grinders can be especially susceptible to fires because of the many hours they operate and the debris that can collect on them. Much of what causes machine fires can be attributed to overheated bearings and belts, exhaust components, clutches, leaking hydraulic components, impacts with ungrindable objects and sparks caused by damaged or improperly adjusted components.
You and your operating crew can help prevent a fire on your grinder by educating yourself about the causes and fuel sources and following a few simple steps when shutting down each day.
Causes of Fire
Fire results from a combination of a fuel source and a heat source. Any part of the machine that uses energy or transfers energy can produce heat and cause a fire. Clean and inspect each of the following:
- Engine exhaust
- Drive sheaves
- Rotating parts
- Hydraulic motors, tank, hoses, pumps
- Electric motors
- Electric wiring
Any flammable material must be removed from machine, this includes metal passing through the grinding chamber. Ferrous metal must be removed from the end product because the metal can become hot enough to cause a fire. Separate fuel sources from heat as much as possible. Move the grinder away from the end product stockpiles or move end product stockpiles away from the grinder after each grinding session. Common fuel sources and most common feedstocks to start on fire include:
- End products made from wood waste and other flammable materials
- Spilled fuel
- Excess grease
- Spilled or leaked hydraulic fluid
- Wood waste
- Agricultural residue, such as corn stover
- Cardboard and paper
- Hydraulic oil
Shutdown Fire Prevention Inspection
Thoroughly clean the grinder by removing all dust and debris using a pressure washer or vacuum. Do not use compressed air as it may create a dust cloud. Failure to thoroughly clean the grinder will create a serious fire hazard.
After shutting down, begin immediate clean up and inspection. Thoroughly clean entire machine and the surrounding area. Stay with the machine at least 30 minutes after shutting down to monitor for signs of heat or fire.
- Walk around and inspect entire machine. Be alert for signs of heat and fire.
- Remove loose debris and dust on, under, and around entire machine.
- Remove debris from machine and surrounding area.
- Open guards and doors. Remove dust and debris.
- Check temperature of rotor bearings and hydraulic fluid.
- If possible, move the machine away from the end product.
A fire at your operation can have significant implications. Making sure that you are properly maintaining and cleaning your grinder and the surrounding areas can save you time and money in the long run.