weibold! Academy: How to prevent tire fires

Dear Readers,

Month by month, our weibold! Academy series dwells deeper into the world of tire recycling and highlights different sides of running this business. In case if you have missed our previous articles, you can find the links at the end of this article.

Tire Fire Prevention

To know how to fight tire fires, one needs to understand what their main causes are. Usually, tire fires occur when scrap tires are piled up in landfills. While natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes can’t be prevented, tire fires are one disaster that we can stop. To be more determined to prevent them in the future, tire recyclers first of all need to know and remember the history of tire fires.

Mount Firestone (Everett, WA, 1984)

Late September 1984, a pile of tires stored for recycling caught fire. The city was holding on to these tires hoping to sell them for fuel. The problem with this plan was that the tires themselves already were a good fuel. Over 4 million tires ignited because of heat and the resulting fire burned seven months long. Firefighters poured some 2,000 gallons of water per hour on the fire for two days without any result.

In the end, the city realized that they just had to let the fire burn itself out. For more than half a year, citizens of Everett dealt with polluted air and soot that covered every surface. Many experienced health problems due to the smoke. The fire was dubbed locally as “Mount Firestone.” While the city had initially hoped to make a profit by recycling tires, they ended up having to pay $97,000 to have remains brought away.

Tire Inferno (Hagersville, Ontario, 1990)

In February 1990, Ontario saw what was at the time the largest tire fire ever to occur in North America. It happened in the Canadian town of Hagersville, 80 miles west of Buffalo, New York. The New York Times called it the “Worst Tire Inferno.”

They also pointed out that the fire was a symbol of the problems with scrap tire regulation in the U.S. and Canada. At that time, there were very few states which regulated the disposal of tires. The fire burned for just 17 days, but consumed nearly 14 million tires, which were spread across 11 acres of land. Three years before, the owner of the tire dump had been ordered by the Canadian Ministry of Environment to build fire lanes and install water lines in case of fire, but the work was never done. It cost the city around $1.5 million to put out the fire.

Fire in the World’s Biggest Tire Landfill (Kuwait City, Kuwait, 2012)

By early 2000s, most countries in the world had designed regulations for recycling tires that prevented dumping in landfills. Unfortunately, Kuwait was not one of those countries. And even worse, some businessmen, reportedly, began importing tires from other countries and disposing of them – for a fee, of course. According to Amusing Planet (Daily Mail), they piled tires in a landfill that became known as the world’s biggest tire graveyard. All those tires were a fire waiting to happen, and in April of 2012, they began to burn. The black plume of smoke from the Kuwait fire was so big that it could be seen from space.

More than 5 million tires were in the dump at that time, and the oil they released as they burned caused an ecological disaster. The saddest part of this story is that after the fire, the landfill owners made no effort to dismantle the remaining tire piles. By 2015, the dump had grown to contain more than 7 million tires!

Recent Tire Fires in Europe (Sesena, Spain, 2016)

Despite decades of devastating tire fires, regulations on recycling tires have not yet put an end to this disaster. In May 2016, one of Europe’s largest tire stockpiles caught fire. Schools canceled classes, residents were evacuated, and highways closed to prevent injury from the fire and smoke. The dump had closed in 2003, when the government declared it illegal. Yet, as late as 2016 authorities had not properly disposed of the tires. Like most tire fires, this one was probably started by an arsonist.

A Lesson We Can Learn About Recycling Tires

There are a few common issues throughout these and other tire fires. The tires were whole, not shredded. When tires are not shredded, they can trap methane, which, in turn, is conducive to ignite and spread fires. The burned tires create a widespread ecological disaster. And all the fires could have easily been prevented by properly recycling tires instead of stacking them in a dump. What is the right way to recycle scrap tires? In almost every part of the world, laws for recycling tires are clear. Shredded tires are much safer than whole, since they can be buried or stored without trapping methane gas or leaching toxins.

A better solution compared to just shredding tires and throwing them away is to recycle them. Shredded tires may not be likely to cause fires like whole tires do, but they are still contributing to landfill waste, especially since most synthetic rubbers are not biodegradable. Old shredded tires can find new life as playground surfaces, athletics tracks, and roads. Instead of throwing out whole tires, we can also repurpose them. Some creative recyclers have made planters, swings, sandboxes, and more out of whole scrap tires. Whatever method you choose, recycling tires is a far safer alternative compared to throwing them away, not to mention better for the environment as a whole. By shredding and recycling tires, we can prevent future tire fires and help make the earth a little greener.

To find out more about tire recycling, collection programs and safety requirements for plants and landfills, send us your inquiry to robert@weibold.com. Please contact us to request more information on this topic. We will be happy to help you build a flourishing tire recycling and pyrolysis business!

Links to our previous newsletters:

  1. Welcome to weibold! Academy
  2. weibold! Academy: Recycled Rubber Output Spectrum and Rubber Granulates
  3. weibold! Academy: Rubber Granulates, Rubber Powder, Tire Derived Steel and Tire Derived Fiber
  4. weibold! Academy: Tyre Recycling Value Chain
  5. weibold! Academy: Applications for Tyre Recycling Plant Output
  6. weibold! Academy: Rubber Granulate Applications
  7. weibold! Academy: Rubber Powder Applications – Rubber Industry
  8. weibold! Academy: Rubber Powder Applications – Surface Coatings
  9. weibold! Academy: Success Factors in the Tire Recycling Industry
  10. weibold! Academy: Understanding Tire Recycling Technology
  11. weibold! Academy: Total Quality Management in Tire Recycling
  12. weibold! Academy: Applications for Fibers from End-of-Life Tires
  13. weibold! Academy: Safety and health effects of crumb rubber infill in artificial turf
  14. weibold! Academy: Tire pyrolysis – products and applications
  15. weibold! Academy: Tire-derived fuel in cement production
  16. weibold! Academy: How to improve tire collection in small cities

2 thoughts on “weibold! Academy: How to prevent tire fires

  1. ivan acuna

    Dar Robert.

    To give an additional information to this New, in Colombia in 2014 in bogota, a tire plant was burned With 600.000 tires giving all City in an enviromental dísaster and the Fire Men used around 2.000.000 liters of water

    Reply
    1. marixandolo

      Dear Ivan,

      Thank you for your input. Nowadays there is proper tyre recycling carried out in Bogota as far as we know.

      Best regards,
      Robert

      Reply

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