Fire has been a historical bugaboo to the waste, recycling and scrap metal industries, destroying valuable property and inventory and causing the loss of income and revenue. Throughout the last 30 years, the economic impact of these losses has increased in magnitude because of technological advancements in and the additive cost of processing and sorting equipment. Operators have been focused on extracting more material from their incoming material streams and by and large have neglected fire protection.

Fire protection literally has been an afterthought for a number of multimillion dollar facilities. Waste and recycling operators traditionally have been opportunistic with regard to the types of property they purchase, often targeting older industrial properties in economically depressed areas. This allows them to buy property inexpensively and focus their investments on processing and sorting equipment. Even with newly constructed facilities, fire warning and suppression systems often can be overlooked.

This issue is compounded by two different factors:

1. City ordinances do not consider occupancy type in their compliance directives.

2. Processors are not engaging with insurance companies to determine the appropriate fire suppression and warning systems for use in their facilities. These systems are afterthoughts.

The Recycling Today Media Group in coordination with Commercial Insurance Associates LLC, Brentwood, Tennessee, and General Protection Consultants, Birmingham, Alabama, are providing a series of articles focused on fire warning, suppression and safety systems. We want to educate readers about the perils of fire and the ways they can combat this risk with sensible fire suppression-system design, improved best practices and established standard operating procedures. We will finish this project with a webinar and discussion that took place Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. EST.

Our goal is to educate readers and webinar attendees on the importance of physical protection and building engineering, making them top of mind when commissioning or retrofitting a facility instead of afterthoughts.

More content available online For fire-safety solutions from some of the Fire Safety supplement sponsors, visit