A silo is a structure for holding bulk materials. In agriculture, silos are used to store grain or fermented feed known as silage. There are many types of silo used for a variety of storage tasks. These vary from tall “tower” silos to horizontal silos and can be made from many different materials including wood, concrete and steel.
These iconic structures shape the agricultural landscape and enable farmers to store grain efficiently. They are simple structures with few high-tech components. However, they still have a number of fire safety risks and require careful installation, maintenance and operation.
What Causes Silo Fires
Silo fires can cause huge amounts of damage to equipment, buildings and crops. There are also cases of silos and their associated ducts and buildings exploding. Common causes of fire include:
Unloading equipment with electrical problems, overheating bearings and slipping belts can ignite dust and dry materials.
- Dust explosion
If the inside of a silo becomes laden with finely granulated particles such as grain dust, an ignition can cause an explosion big enough to destroy the silo and its adjacent buildings.
- Poor compaction
Poor compaction can allow air to circulate around the crops and contribute to fires.
- Spontaneous combustion
Silage is formed when crops are allowed to ferment in the absence of air. This process can produce excess heat. Low moisture and the presence of oxygen can cause microorganisms to reproduce too quickly and generate heat faster than normal. If this happens, temperatures can climb too high and combustion may occur.
With this in mind, it is essential that precautions are taken to detect fires and potential fires quickly and accurately to ensure that buildings, stock, livestock and people are kept safe from fire.
Fire Detection for Grain Silos
A FyreLine Linear Heat Detection system can provide the ideal detection solution for protecting grain silos from fire. FyreLine Linear Heat Sensing Cable can detect heat at any point along its length and provide an accurate location of fire or excess heat. In this instance linear heat sensing cable can be installed around the silo, using catenary wire to support the cable.
FyreLine Linear Heat Detection is available in two versions:
FyreLine Digital provides fixed heat detection at temperatures of 68°C, 88°C, 105°C or 185°C. Once the cables rated temperature is reached, a signal is sent to the fire alarm control panel.
FyreLine Analogue continuously monitors for changes in temperature. Once the cable reaches its specified temperature, a signal is sent to the fire alarm control panel. Due to FyreLine Analogues ability to continually monitor for changes in temperature, a pre-alarm threshold can also be determined to allow potential fires to be investigated before action is taken.
A variety of cable coatings are available for FyreLine Linear Heat Sensing Cable making them suitable for a wide range of applications.
When using Linear Heat Detection for Silos, it is recommended that nylon coating is used. Nylon coating is black and provides suitable detection when used in direct sunlight. It is also much tougher than the standard PVC and withstands much more mechanical abrasion. Nylon also provides protection from hazardous hydrocarbons such as fuel oils, diesel and kerosene.
For more information about the FyreLine Linear Heat Detection system, or to discuss any of the other products that Eurofyre have to offer, please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to [email protected] or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.