Any old iron! Tackling fire and theft in the metals recycling industry

16 Sep 2022
BY Zicam Integrated Security Ltd

It might sound odd, but Zicam has recently become a member of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), the trade association that represents the UK metal recycling sector; and there is a very good reason for it. During a conversation I had with our insurance broker, he mentioned that his company (also a member of the BMRA) represents a number of metals recycling companies, and because of that he attends monthly and annual meetings. It was at these meetings where he realised the extent metals recycling companies suffer from fire and theft. He also suggested that perhaps they needed support from an accredited fire and security company.

When I started looking into it I found numerous reports of huge blazes at sites across the UK. On Boxing Day last year a fire broke out at a recycling plant near Tamworth in the West Midlands that required 30 firefighters to battle the blaze and for residents to stay in their homes. Similarly, in June this year, seven fire engines were required to tackle a fire involving 200 tonnes of scrap metal at a breaker’s yard in Adversane, West Sussex.

In terms of theft, the BMRA publishes reports on its Metal Theft News site and with just a quick look through I saw that in August this year scrap starter/alternator and motors worth £26,500 were taken from a scrap metal dealer in Luton. Also, in July, six thieves took £25,000-£35,000 worth of cabling from a yard in Wrexham.

Early warning can prevent fire

So, how do fires start in scrap metal yards? Fires can start spontaneously because of the materials involved, for example, there may be batteries or fuel present. Also, most metals are flammable and over time, during the corrosion process and with the right temperature, can combust. Another cause of fire is often arsonists. The problem the yards have is the very fact that they’re outside, there are no warehouses or canopies, so a conventional fire system, such as we would see in a building, is redundant in this situation.

This is where Zicam is best placed to support the owners of metals recycling plants. We use a range of fire protection cameras that monitor heat signatures as part of our integrated fire and security systems. These cameras are so advanced they can detect the smallest of ignition sources, for example, the flame of a lighter, and prevent that heat source from becoming a fire by engaging their early warning systems. Once the camera has detected an increase in temperature it issues an alert to either the fire service, site owner, or police. Unfortunately, there is no effective way of suppressing a fire at these sites, so a very early warning monitoring system is the best solution.

Another benefit of using these cameras for fire prevention for the owners of metals recycling plants is a possible reduction to their insurance premium thanks to the measures they have taken to improve the safety and protection of their site.

Theft deterrent – CCTV for 24/7 monitoring

After seeing the thousands of pounds that a scrap metal thief can get away with, I would advise bolstering a recycling plant or scrap yard with high-tech CCTV. As with heat detection, monitored cameras give 24/7 coverage of the site which allows the owner (or remote monitoring station) to watch, track and challenge any unauthorised person on site. Given the amount of time it can take to load metal onto a vehicle, these cameras, which can call for a police response, play very successful in criminal apprehension.

If you are the owner of a metals recycling plant and would like to find out how Zicam’s bespoke, integrated fire and security system can protect your site, please contact a member of our team today.

Dave Salisbury, Managing Director, Zicam Integrated Security Limited.

Subscribe here to keep up to date with Zicam’s news and views.

Contact us for more details

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.
Privacy Policy