Recycled Materials Association Fire Safety Resources

May 14, 2024, 07:30 AM
Content author:
Arnulfo Moreno
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The Recycled Materials Association (ReMA) considers safety its number one core value, stressing the importance of doing things safely or not at all. One of the biggest safety concerns in most recycled materials facilities is preventing fires.

With the concerns over industry fires due in part to the increase of lithium-ion batteries in the recycling stream, ReMA has created many resources for members specifically covering fire safety to keep your workers, facility, and community safe.

“People need to know what their roles and responsibilities are when an event happens,” said ReMA Senior Director of Safety Jerry Sjogren. “Understanding your fuel sources and ignition sources out in the field and making sure you have a solid inbound source control program are all are part of fire safety. One other especially important element is creating a solid relationship with your local fire department. Get to know them and let them get to know you and your facility. If a fire event happens, they will be more effective in putting out the flames since they will be familiar with your facility.”

The worst time to start thinking about fire safety is when a fire happens. In order to help facilities be more proactive in their fire safety, ReMA created a Guide to Creating a Fire Prevention and Management Plan, developed by fire experts, insurance, and recycled materials professionals. It is meant to be used as a guidance document to help business owners, operators, and environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals better understand and mitigate potential risks before they become bigger problems. The document has three sections: fire prevention, fire response, and crisis management. Fire prevention includes steps to create a plan, how to make it effective, and best practices. Fire response describes emergency action plans and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that serve as a guide to safely responding to a fire. The crisis management section outlines how to deal with authorities and how to notify insurance companies and agencies like OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Updated in March 2024, ReMA’s Fire Safety Guidelines for Tire Processors was developed by ReMA’s Tire and Rubber Division to encourage tire recyclers to operate their facilities safely. The document examines each phase of a typical tire recycling facility, and outlines approaches for practices and procedures associated with that particular phase of the recycling process. During a tire fire, tires break down into hazardous compounds including gases, heavy metals, and oil. The average passenger car tire is estimated to produce over two gallons of oil when burned.

Employees need to understand how fires start and spread to be part of the fire-prevention process. That’s why in addition to the guidance documents, ReMA also offers an education and training course, Hazard Recognition: Fire Safety and Prevention. The half-day in-person class funded by an OSHA grant and developed to assist employees, team leads, supervisors, plant managers, and senior leadership in understanding hazards associated with fires in recycling facility environments and beyond.

ReMA Director of Safety Outreach Ryan Nolte encourages recyclers to attend the class whether or not they already have a program in place. “If you have an existing program, it’s a good way to evaluate your program with what we’re offering, and if you don’t have a program, it gives you a good starting point,” he says. “There’s also great value in attending the class and getting to collaborate and hear from other recyclers across the nation who are sharing similar stories and experiences.”

ReMA has also released five videos related to fire safety and prevention, featuring Kenn Kunze of IC Fire Prevention LLC, a retired Battalion Chief with 30 years of experience in the Combat Division of the Fort Wayne Indiana Fire Department. The videos are designed to provide quick, actionable tips that can be rapidly implemented in your facility. The topics include:

The Recycled Materials Association (ReMA) considers safety its number one core value, stressing the importance...
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