Plant & Equipment

Personnel urged to familiarise with changes to fire safety standards

This applies to a range of mobile plant and equipment, including the excavators, bulldozers, loaders and trucks used on quarry sites.

Owners and operators of these vehicles are urged to familiarise themselves with changes, which include amendments to maintenance procedures.

AS 5062-2016 specifies the minimum requirements for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of vehicle fire suppression systems. It applies to new equipment, and can also be applied to existing equipment for maintenance activities.

As an industry that relies heavily on transportable equipment and mobile plant for daily operations, it is recommended that quarry operators take appropriate steps to manage the risk of vehicle fires.

The combination of heat, flammable liquids, turbo chargers and hot exhaust and electrical components in an enclosed engine compartment can put vehicles at a high risk of a devastating and costly fire.

A vehicle fire suppression system can provide early detection to allow extra time for the operator to safely evacuate in the event of a fire, and can help to minimise damage to the vehicle.

Owners and operators of mobile equipment on quarry sites are urged to adopt AS5062-2016 as best practice and familiarise themselves with the revised standard.

{{image2-a:r-w:200}}There are two main changes to the standard.

Firstly, it outlines new provisions for tolerance testing and routine service, which have been introduced from Australian Standard AS1851-2012 Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment. These specify how often equipment must be serviced and outline tolerance periods should routine servicing occur outside the scheduled date.

This change is designed to encourage timely routine servicing, helping to ensure that fire protection systems will perform as intended in the event of an emergency.

Secondly, additional reporting requirements are now in place. The standard specifies the requirement for “baseline data” to be provided for any installed fire protection systems and equipment.

This data provides benchmark performance criteria and includes details on how the system is installed, what it is designed for and how it is intended to perform. It is compared to the results of subsequent periodic servicing activities to determine whether the fire protection system is still performing as per its intended purpose.

A consultative fire risk assessment approach still forms part of AS5062-2016.

Qualified personnel should undertake fire risk assessments in conjunction with many stakeholders, such as equipment operators and technicians, owners, the manufacturer’s representative, suppliers, hirers, insurers and specialist fire consultants, as applicable. This process recognises that fire hazards and risks associated with mobile and transportable equipment are often too complex to be fully understood by one person.

Steve Oxley is Wormald’s national product manager for vehicle fire suppression systems, and sits on the technical advisory committee of the Fire Protection Association of Australia.

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