California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Fires at Solid Waste Facilities

Summary of Stakeholder Input From November 2005 Coordination Meetings

Key Ideas for all Pile Fires

Fire Prevention

Operators can establish no-smoking zones and require employees and visitors to refrain from smoking in those zones.

Operators can periodically inspect on-site equipment for fluid leaks, electrical short circuits, and build up of flammable debris on machine tracks, gears or undercarriage.

Operators can limit pile height and total solid waste pile size to minimize spontaneous combustion and fire.

Operators can establish "self-haul" areas to conduct load checks on waste from infrequent users who may not be aware of disposal prohibitions on flammable hazardous waste or hot ashes.

Operators and fire departments can conduct facility tours to discuss the fire prevention plan and review adequacy of access gates, water sources, and other site-specific factors. Operators can then prepare a fire prevention plan that can be reviewed by the fire department.

Fire department staff can identify the solid waste local enforcement agency (LEA) staff for their jurisdiction and conduct solid waste fire prevention planning sessions with LEA staff.

Fire department staff can identify solid waste facilities in their jurisdiction and conduct prevention planning sessions with operators.

Communication and active cooperation between code enforcement, planner, and inspectors from various local and regional programs can promote proactive use of conditional use permits (CUPs) and use of the project review process for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to address fire prevention issues.

Fire Suppression

Fire Departments can use CalRecycle databases to contact LEAs and operators or key information from these databases could be added to fire department databases. During a fire, LEAs and operators can often provide site-specific information to firefighters.

Operators can hold periodic fire safety meetings with employees and review key steps to take when a fire occurs. Define when employees call 911.

Key Ideas for Transfer Station Buildings

Fire Prevention

Operators can use a load checking program to screen out flammable hazardous waste and “hot loads” that are often identified as the probable causes of fires at transfer stations.

Operators and fire departments can sponsor public awareness campaigns to promote proper disposal of fire place ashes in winter and barbecue ashes in summer.

Operators can establish non-smoking zones and require employees and visitors to refrain from smoking in these zones.

Operators can install heat sensors to alert facility staff if temperature inside building is rising above normal operating limits.

Fire Suppression

Construct roof with skylights or vents that can be easily opened to vent smoke when fire occurs.

Key Ideas for Composting

Fire Prevention

Prepare fire prevention plan that includes options for breakdown of equipment and resultant increase in pile size.

Have poles on-site that are marked to show allowable pile height. These can guide equipment operators.

Remove glass and metal from piles, especially from western-facing slope to reduce solar heating and potential for combustion.

Fire Suppression

Separate burning material from non-burning material and follow best management practices.

Fires Home

Last updated: June 28, 2006
Fires at Solid Waste Facilities http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/Fires/
Todd Thalhamer: Todd.Thalhamer@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6356