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A combination of PYROsmart® cameras (an intelligent infrared system) and automatic extinguishing monitors provides a highly efficient and effective fire safety system for Renewi, a waste treatment company.

Waste of all types is carried on a conveyor belt to be mechanically sorted and sent to different storage areas according to category. In the warehouse, which is constantly monitored by PYROsmart® cameras searching for abnormal heat, one camera focuses on a point that could be an incipient fire.

No sign of fire at this stage, but the temperature identified is that of a fire smoldering inside the pile of waste. After an observation period during which the temperature does not drop, the PYROsmart® camera-controlled system triggers the automatic extinguishing monitor in the critical area while the warehouses are evacuated.

This system is operational in Puurs, in the province of Antwerp, Belgium, at the premises of Renewi, a company specialising in waste processing and recycling. Companies operating in this sector, which is subject to incipient fire, are particularly alert to fire safety.

When combined with a heat wave, rising temperatures in waste that is temporarily stored and awaiting sorting and pre-treatment can generate an incipient fire. Similarly, in the moving parts of the facility, such as the conveyor belt carrying waste and the crusher, there is also a risk of fire due to the compression of Lithium batteries such as those found in smartphones.

These risk factors prompted the Renewi company to act on its determination to improve the performance of its safety system by acquiring a one-of-a-kind, ultra-modern fire protection system for its sorting hall in Puurs.

PYROsmart® cameras and automatic extinguishing

“This equipment is totally innovative as it combines the use of PYROsmart® cameras to detect potential fires and an automatic extinguishing system using water monitors. It is the first system of this combined type installed in the Benelux countries,” says Erik Bergman, Business Unit Manager at Cegelec Fire Solutions Projects The Netherlands, the VINCI Energies business unit that designed the installation.

At the Renewi facility, four PYROsmart® cameras are installed in the four areas of the hall, which are scanned every two minutes. At each pass, the infrared cameras sweep a three by three metre area to detect the slightest temperature rise, square metre by square metre.

Cegelec Fire Solutions has also installed an additional system equipped with a fifth PYROsmart® camera above the crusher system conveyor belt. This camera continuously scans the incoming flow of waste; if the temperature rises, the conveyor is automatically stopped, the valve opened and the incipient fire extinguished by three open sprinklers.

When a high temperature is detected by a PYROsmart® camera the detection system first triggers a preliminary evacuation alarm. If the temperature continues to rise, the main evacuation alarm is sounded to evacuate the premises. Shortly after all persons present in the warehouse have exited the premises, the fire water monitor starts automatically his program to extinguish the heat inside the pile of waste. The flow of each fire water monitor is approx. 1.300 litre per minute.

Objective: anticipation

“In the specific field of waste storage and treatment, incipient fires are not necessarily detectable,” says Erik Bergman. Most fires do not start on the surface but within the layer of waste. “For this reason, Cegelec Fire Solutions decided to install the PYROsmart® system, which can recognise a fire smoldering deep within the waste pile,” he says.

“The goal is to identify possible incipient fires before the fire starts, in order to anticipate them and take preventive action.”

The company connected a 340 cu. metre water tank to a diesel pump, which sends pressurised water to the fire water monitor. The powerful water jet disperses the upper layer of waste and enables the water to penetrate deeply into the waste pile and thus reach the smoldering fire. “This is the advantage of the system we installed at the Renewi premises,” says Erik Bergman. “The goal is to identify possible incipient fires before the fire starts, in order to anticipate them and take preventive action.”

When the automatic extinguishing system is triggered, the fire brigade is alerted. Once on the spot, the fire brigade either stops the automatic system and takes over with its own equipment or uses the on-site spray monitor, guiding it with a joystick. “Renewi was happy with the solution installed in Puurs and awarded a further contract to Cegelec Fire Solutions to roll out the system at an additional site,” says Erik Bergman.