There have been many high-profile fires in hatcheries around the world in recent years
While insurance cover can help to compensate for the disastrous effects of a hatchery fire, no amount of cover can compensate for the severe interruption in production and the resulting lost business.
Within a hatchery, setters and hatchers can take up almost one third of the entire floor space – more in larger hatcheries. Incubator cabinets are commonly constructed using a series of insulated sandwich panels, formed, in most cases, using a high-density insulative inner core and an exterior laminate of FRP – both materials are, in most cases, highly flammable.
Apart from the large quantities of plastic trays or baskets the incubator cabinet will also contain fans, motors, control panels and a turning system, all running continuously in the harshest of conditions. Hatcheries will also contain water chillers, pumps, ventilation systems and a variety of automation systems that support the hatchery process. All these things can be a potential fire hazard.
The cause of fires in hatcheries will vary, but it is fair to say that in many cases electrical faults have been a major contributing factor. Considering that hatcheries operate 24 hours per day with long unsupervised periods, it is not surprising that fires can go un-detected until they are out of control.
A further a concern is that due to the pure nature of the materials generally used for incubator and hatchery construction, petroleum based products (polystyrene and Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic for example) can fuel a fire with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Most major incubator manufacturers today use high-density insulation panels with a FRP (Fibre Reinforced Plastic) outer sheeting for their incubator cabinet construction. The FRP is a highly combustible material and a potentially serious fire risk.
EmTech take health and safety, and the dangers associated with using highly combustible materials, very seriously. As a result, all their setter and hatcher cabinet panels have a 50mm Fire Rated PIR (polyisocyanurate) insulated core with a steel outer sheeting. These metal clad panels are interlocking and provide all the strength necessary to give the incubator rigidity and roof support whilst providing a fire protected environment for the eggs and chicks. Most importantly this will help to contain a fire by not allowing it to burn out of control.
It is also worth noting that, worldwide, the PIR fire rated panel is commonly used for the insulation of domestic homes, offices and industrial buildings. EmTech firmly believes that Hatchery buildings should be built to the same fire rated standard.
To discover just how much of a fire risk and how the FRP cladded insulation panels compare with EmTech PIR metal panels a fire rating test was recently conducted at the EmTech UK facility.
The results were even more shocking than first predicted. The standard FRP panel, used by virtually all other incubator manufacturers, was destroyed in less than nine minutes while the EmTech Fire Rated panel after 30 minutes had only sustained minimal superficial damage to the paint and adhesive layers.
As long as hatcheries contain large quantities of flammable materials, fires will always remain a potential threat. While EmTech do not claim to be able to prevent a fire, this experiment clearly demonstrates that their PIR Fire Rated panel will help to reduce its spread providing vital time for personnel to evacuate safely and the emergency services to attend,
Conversely the standard EPS constructed panel could help to accelerate a conflagration resulting in the possibility of a hatchery burning out of control within a very short time.