The food and drink manufacturing industry is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK with a turnover of over £95 billion. It accounts for one fifth of all manufacturing and employs over 400,000 staff.
Food production occurs in a wide variety of buildings of all shapes and sizes and contains huge quantities of raw materials and finished goods.
In 2014 there were 21 £100,000 plus food factory fires causing over £12,000,000 worth of damage.
The food industry produces food products, such as coffee, cocoa, flour, milk powder and sugar, in large quantities. The production and processing of these fine-grained or pulverized materials hold high risks of fire. Sparks, glowing embers or particles, generated in different plant areas, can kindle the dry and easily inflammable material and cause serious fire and explosions. Cooking and processing equipment are typical fire causes and an awareness of this and of the correct use of extinguishers is an integral part of UK Fire Training courses in this sector.
Food Factories and warehouses can contain any type of products, many of which are highly combustible. Add to this the packaging used including cardboard, shrink wrap plastic and poly styrene and you have the recipe for a perfect fire. To utilise space effectively, goods are stored racking often on multiple level racking which only amplifies the speed of fire growth.
The effective running of a warehouse will often mean the need to use and safely store LPG, diesel, paint products and other commercial combustibles. UK Fire Training courses takes all of this into account.
FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEMS
Food production and storage premises obviously vary tremendously in size and layout and varied and sophisticated fire protection systems will be incorporated and these need to take account of in any fire training. These include automatic fire detection, sprinklers / automatic fire suppression, smoke curtains, and smoke and heat exhaust and ventilation systems.
Food production premises can be very congested and it is vital that good housekeeping measures are implemented to mimise poor storage of combustibles. Poor housekeeping can result in blocked escape routes affecting staff and the fire service. UK Fire Training discuss this issue and provide a routine check list to allow delegates to manage this situation.
FOOD PRODUCTION FIRE EXAMPLES
Blaze at Gretna poultry farm kills 3,000 chickens
Three thousand chickens have been killed in a major fire at a Gretna farm.
Firefighters spent about 10 hours at the scene of the blaze in an industrial farm building.
They were called to the developing fire and remained on the scene for approximately 10 hours.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Fire Service said they tackled the fire with water jets capable of projecting water a considerable distance.
She said crews were deployed to the scene from Gretna, Annan and Langholm.
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service also mobilised an appliance from Longtown to help bring the blaze under control.
Fryer fire at Walkers crisps factory in Leicester
Firefighters have been tackling a "challenging" fire at the Walkers food factory in Leicester.
The fire is believed to have started in a fryer at the factory in Leycroft Road, Beaumont Leys.
All staff working in the factory were evacuated before firefighters arrived.
Leicestershire's chief fire officer, Dave Webb, said the thick black smoke in the building had been "challenging work" for officers.
No-one was injured.
"With it being an oil fire it was really quite difficult to deal with," Mr Webb said.
"There was lots of big, black smoke and almost zero visibility."
Mr Webb said the structure of the building was still safe but it had suffered some smoke damage.
At its height, the fire was tackled by 60 firefighters.
A spokesperson for PepsiCo, which owns Walkers, said the company would be "working around the clock to get things back to normal as soon as possible".