Waste managers must enhance fire solutions as demand for electronic goods heats up

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Waste managers must enhance fire solutions as demand for electronic goods heats up

November 6, 2023

Featured Image of Fire Rover automatically suppressing a fire once detected

Waste treatment and disposal in Australia is big business – it is a market valued at over $4 billion that has grown steadily by 2.9 percent year-on-year since 2017.

Like any industry, Australian-based waste managers and their international contemporaries face several challenges as part of their day-to-day operations, with one of the biggest being the risk of fire at their facilities and workplaces.

Spontaneous combustion incidents are becoming increasingly more common. One of the leading causes is how consumers dispose of electronic goods that use lithium-ion batteries, which were linked to over 450 fires in Australia last year alone. 1

The most recent Hazardous Waste Infrastructure Needs and Capacity Assessment, which was released by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), forecasts that lithium-ion waste will increase by 300 per cent each year by 2036.

This represents a staggering 187,000 tonnes of potentially hazardous waste like e-cigarettes, general purpose batteries, old mobile devices, laptops and other electronic items yearly.

From an insurance-perspective, the market outlook and all this risk has driven up premiums to an unmanageable level – even for the biggest corporations. And in many cases, insurance companies will simply choose not to provide a policy to waste managers.

More education around correct disposal of electronics is needed among consumers to help curtail these instances, and as society’s perpetual digitisation unfolds, there is no denying fire-related events stemming from batteries will remain a challenge for the industry.

So, it is imperative that waste managers equip themselves with state-of-the-art solutions that will protect the community, the environment and their assets against the threat of fire.


How old fire systems compare to modern-day solutions

We have come a long way since reactive smoke alarms and sprinklers were considered frontline fire solutions.

Now, advanced technologies like the Fire Rover detection and suppression system – which is exclusively available through Wastech Engineering – are available in the Australian and New Zealand marketplaces and utilise gadgetry you would expect to see in a science fiction movie.

Fire Rover is the world’s only proactive fire management system that can detect and suppress fires before they start and is suitable for any facilities that store general waste, chemicals, oil or recyclable materials.

It remains operational around the clock and can autonomously detect subterranean temperature changes down to the size of a pixel, using military grade thermal cameras to identify changes in heat levels, remote human verification to prevent false alarms and human intervention to provide the fastest response to suppressing fire.

Through this innovation fires can be detected, verified and suppressed remotely 365 days of the year – without the risk of injury or life to personnel on-site.


How Fire Rover detects and suppresses threats to your assets

Upon detection of hazards, the Fire Rover system relays information back to its operations centre where a specialist team conducts an analysis of the potential threat.

From here, the asset manager and authorities are notified, then a decision is made on high-pressure blasting a fire-retardant foam via remote control at the hot-spot – all before combustion occurs.

Fire Rover’s fire-retardant and suppression system are capable of extinguishing wood, cardboard, petrol, plastic, lithium-ion and general waste fires.

Furthermore, from a sustainability perspective, the EPA-approved F-500 encapsulating agent combined with water used by Fire Rover is biodegradable, making it environmentally friendly while minimising both facility damage and cleaning costs.


The importance and opportunities from local fire system advancement

Right now, leading Australian waste companies and the industry at-large have an opportunity to establish a position as the global leader and authority for fire detection and prevention.

But in order to do so, organisations across both the public and private sectors must be proactive and increase their investment in the space, which in-turn will provide extra protection for their workers and the community, the environment and their waste management assets.

The financial implications of fire incidents in the Australian waste management sector cannot be understated either, as the property damage, operational and community disruptions and legal liabilities they create are often very severe.

By adopting best-in-class fire prevention technologies, waste managers can more effectively reduce the risk and occurrence of fires, safeguarding their assets while mitigating potential losses to revenue and reputation.

If you would like to learn more about the innovative Fire Rover solution offered by Wastech Engineering, its applications across different industries, the installation process and product delivery timings, or discuss a separate waste management matter, please reach out to us at: info@wastech.com.au.

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