1. #1
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    Post Tactics for a fire in a Kiln

    We have a Lumber yard in our area with 2 100 x 40 kilns in it used for drying what they sell. Management tells us that if we ever respond to a fire in one we are to chop holes in the sides and use fog. Has anyone had any experience fighting this type of fire?

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    We don't have any wood drying kilns, but we do have a lot of industry that uses heat treating.

    The question I have is what is the kiln made out of and how hot does it get?

    Many of the ovens in our district operate at 1,000 or more degrees and are built of a cast material with fire proof tiles to protect it. If the oven is still holding together we shut off the fuel and let it cool down, protecting the exposures if needed. If someone were to open a line on it their would be an steam explosion and the oven would fragment. Once a worker did just that prior to the FD's arrival. Sorry I don't remember if he lived.

    Many of the incidents that we have had the oven would get white hot. The crew waited it out and didn't have a problem. BTW we stand by with a 2.5" line for better protection.


    Hope it helps.

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    Check to see if they are steam heated. Many kilns around here can dump massive volumes of live steam into the kiln by opening remote valves. Remember the John Beam high pressure fog lines from the sixtys? They were used to produce a lot of steam via Lloyd Layman's indirect application method. The steam generated would extinguish the fire with very little water. The main drawback was that a vented structure let too much steam escape. Oh yeah, it was a good way to steam lobsters or people in the building too. Steam it and stay out of it. Each layer of boards has cross sticks to permit circulation of the heat to most of the surface area of the boards. Sticked lumber is not very stable even without a fire. Be extra careful when overhauling.

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    ADSN/WNFLD has good advice for high temp kilns used for ceramics and such. I used to work for a major ceramics company, and some of the equipment just in the lab was incredible (like 3000psi at 3000 degrees!). Had kilns that took several days to cool just to open them normally. 1000 degree range temps were more typical for most products though.

    Wood Kilns don't typically operate anywhere near there -- low to moderately high 100s (say 110-180). They're insulated to retain the heat, and the wood is stacked to allow lots of air-movement. Plus there is mechanical ventilation. The whole purpose to them is to simply dry out lumber (it's awful wet & heavy when first cut usually!)

    Now, I could see an indirect fog attack being very successful, 'cause they have limited ventilation.

    My bigger guess is though when you'll get the call for it, the fire will be through the roof and you could through 3500gpm at it, and you'd still have to wait for the fire load to burn down to the flow rate. Remember -- they're insulated, no windows, wood is stacked to allow lots of air flow, mechanical ventilation is continously running to speed the drying. If that lumber is near the end of the drying cycle and catches fire, can you say POOF.

    If you do have a fire small enough to knock down, fortunately you'll have heavy equipment on the site to unload the kiln for overhaul with!

    ---------------
    I did go to one charcoal kiln fire -- similiar in being full of stacked wood -- that DEP Air Quality Unit wanted extinguished. An 8 hour tanker shuttle followed by 8 hours of pumping an 8000' 5" lay flowing 1000gpm finally was enough for the fire to burn down to match the water flow and be extinguished.

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    And stay off the roof,most wood kiln roofs are notoriously soft.T.C.

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    More info
    These have steam coils and fans. 180 degrees F maintained. Aluminum and Stainless steel construction. If it gets going it's coming down.
    I'll check about being able to release steam from the system. It has a monitored alarm system. Response time to it is about 10 min max.

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    The kiln operators should immediately dump steam into the kiln. I suppose that an automatic system could dump the steam. Either a heat or flame detector used to activate it.

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