Power Plant Fire Safety: A Guide

Biomass build-up. Mechanical malfunctions. High-voltage heat. As specialists in power generation fire safety, we understand there are many factors that can result in the worst-case scenario - a power plant on fire. To minimise these risks, it’s vital to implement power plant fire safety measures that comply with current legislation and protect lives. 

Here, we outline the safety measures needed to ensure power plant fire outbreaks are prevented before they occur, including risk assessments, training, and power plant fire suppression systems.

What can set a power plant on fire?

Power plants are subject to a range of unique fire risks. From electrical overloads to flammable fuels, the nature of the environment, work, and materials involved may mean a greater chance of certain types of fire. One of the most common causes is faults within electrical systems, which can generate excessive heat, sparking onto flammable materials and starting a power plant fire. Heavy equipment and machinery, as well as generators, boilers, and turbines, also operate at high pressures and temperatures. All it takes is a broken component, faulty valve, or ruptured pipe to release hot steam, fluid, or gas and ignite a flammable substance. And there are many combustible materials around a power plant that act as a fuel source: natural gases, coal, oils, biomass, hydraulic fluids, insulation, and other chemicals.


How to prevent a power plant fire

To avoid these fire risks and comply with legal guidelines, power plant operators or other responsible person(s) must follow the main rules under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These include: 


  • Carrying out fire risk assessments and identifying any potential power plant fire hazards. As well as fuel storage and ignition sources mentioned above, other factors to consider include the plant’s layout, evacuation procedures, and fire safety equipment.
  • Reducing or eliminating these risks as far as is reasonably possible by putting appropriate power plant fire safety measures in place. These include fire detection and warning systems, emergency routes and exits, firefighting equipment, fire suppression systems, fire separation, and emergency lighting.
  • Reviewing these risks regularly, keeping a record of this and reviewing findings when necessary.
  • Making sure personnel are informed about the identified risks and can respond effectively in the event of a fire by providing adequate power plant fire safety training and conducting regular evacuation drills. 
  • Taking extra protective measures if flammable or explosive materials are used or stored, such as biomass, fuel, and oil.
  • Maintaining these measures.


Who is responsible for power plant fire safety?

As set out by British Standards, it’s a responsible person(s) legal duty to comply with all fire safety measures. There may be several responsible persons, for example, power plant management may conduct fire risk assessments and implement training, while a dedicated safety department identifies potential hazards and takes care of maintenance. Operational personnel also play a crucial role in power plant fire safety, conducting routine inspections and testing equipment. However, not all equipment fires are easy to detect, which is where power plant fire suppression systems come in.


What power plant fire suppression is most effective?

With a huge number of variable fire hazards in power plants, one-size-fits-all fire suppression systems don't often provide the right level of protection to a machine and its operating environment. Depending on the specific machinery or equipment used in a power plant, as well as its working conditions and operating environment, different detection methods, suppressing agents, and delivery systems may be required. 


For example, environments handling combustible materials such as biomass, or those using heavy mobile equipment, are best suited to dual agent systems. These provide rapid fire knock-down and cooling of superheated components, reducing the risk of fire reignition. Meanwhile, power plants with a lot of electrical cabinets, data centres, and transformers will be best protected with our non-corrosive, non-conductive clean agent, which removes heat to suppress fires in seconds. It then evaporates cleanly without leaving residue, removing the need for post-discharge clean up. 


Speak to a power plant fire suppression specialist

At Ardent, our technical team will conduct a comprehensive fire hazard analysis in advance. This will inform the exact power plant fire suppression system design, selection of detection method and extinguishing agent, and system installation parameters needed. With more than 28 years’ experience, we’re on hand to provide suppression systems, as well as maintenance and servicing. For a bespoke power plant fire safety solution, make an enquiry or request a call back from our friendly experts.