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Thread: Roaster Fire

  1. #1
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    Roaster Fire

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Seems someone was roasting a little too dark again………

    Fire in Civic coffee shop on West Row

  2. #2
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    That's a classic! Let's hope he had type B installation certificates so he could get the insurance to cover everything!

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    Oh no, that my regular cafe, and one of the best in Canberra, I hope they're not offline for long.

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    It seems the next step past full house is 'evacuate'!

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Is it just me or is it an awful idea to run a roaster somewhere where a fire would cause mass evacuation and adequate suppression systems weren't available.

    Or am I overestimating the extent to which you can design a suppression system for a roaster.
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  6. #6
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    I think you are overestimating the need for a suppression system in a roaster?

    It would be mostly smoke, and get less after the power was disconnected.

  7. #7
    TOK
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    Some random thoughts.

    To get smoke, you need to have a fire.

    I didn't know you could put out a fire by turning off the power ???

    Suppression systems are generally not fitted to equipment of that small size, regardless they are like insurance.....you could go for years without needing it and then just that one time......poof.....you're glad you've got it.

    And they're simple enough to design and incorporate at least in basic, manually operated form, which to me would mean.....that you would be mad not to have at least a basic set up....but of course often it wouldn't occur to anyone to fit it, unless they were unfortunate enough to have the fire in the first place...after which they might think on it seriously.

    And FWIW I agree with the comment "...Is it just me or is it an awful idea to run a roaster somewhere where a fire would cause mass evacuation and adequate suppression systems weren't available...." but that of course depends on local planning laws.

    If it were up to me I would make it compulsory to have some kind of fire suppression system on any roasting equipment regardless of size, in a cbd type area or where the siting of the equipment is not in a stand alone building. But that's just me, and NO, its not just an oven.
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    I am assuming a roaster run on electricity.

    It's possible to have smoke without fire. Burnt toast? Yes technically it's burning, but there is no flame in the early smoking stages.

    In the case of any fire, you need heat, fuel, oxygen. Remove one of these, and the fire won't start/continue. The heat is applied deliberately in a roaster, but dissipates (at what rate is the question) as soon as the power is removed.

    But, how would your suppression system be designed to suppress this hazard?

  9. #9
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    I agree with TOK that having a roaster in a public space can be hazardous, especially if the machine isn't maintained, cleaned and regularly emptied of chaff.

    The precursor to 2nd crack noise tho' is smoke.................

    The roaster fires that I have read about seem to happen mostly in the flue/chaff collection system where there is a long run, with bends, to the atmosphere.

    A suppression system would have to include an overtemp sensor which would shut off the exhaust fan/flue and starve the 'fire' of oxygen.
    Including some sort of system introducing water/retardant/foam into the flue or chaff collector might be possible but would cost plenty.

    I have a fire extinguisher, a firefighting hose, a short flue to atmosphere and a fast pair of legs! ;-)

    Here are some links, to other smoke and fires, from my library:

    Cafe Bello suffers roaster fire | News from the Glen Park Association

    Pardon Me For Asking: Breaking News! Fire At D'Amico's On Court Street

    NYC: Oslo Coffee’s Bedford Location Burns To The Ground


    http://www.saratogian.com/general-ne...ary-evacuation

    Crews contain coffee roasting plant fire near downtown | KFOR.com

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    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    I thought there had been one or two other fires in Canberra, is there something in the water up there? Or just a bunch of hot air? ;-)

    Fire in coffee roaster forces evacuation
    Fire at Ona | The RiotACT

    and one more:

    Fire in coffee roaster evacuates Southeast Portland business - KPTV - FOX 12

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegoner View Post
    I am assuming a roaster run on electricity.

    It's possible to have smoke without fire. Burnt toast? Yes technically it's burning, but there is no flame in the early smoking stages.

    In the case of any fire, you need heat, fuel, oxygen. Remove one of these, and the fire won't start/continue. The heat is applied deliberately in a roaster, but dissipates (at what rate is the question) as soon as the power is removed.

    But, how would your suppression system be designed to suppress this hazard?

    Very, very, very few commercial roasters run on electricity, and I happen to know this because I roast with one of them, and it is only a 2 kg machine. The vast majority of commercial roasters run on gas and, even then, cutting off the gas flow wouldn't make much of an immediate difference because, by then, the fire would would be fuelled by chaff, the beans themselves or by the creosote build-up in the flue system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinitasse View Post
    Very, very, very few commercial roasters run on electricity, and I happen to know this because I roast with one of them, and it is only a 2 kg machine. The vast majority of commercial roasters run on gas and, even then, cutting off the gas flow wouldn't make much of an immediate difference because, by then, the fire would would be fuelled by chaff, the beans themselves or by the creosote build-up in the flue system.
    Given your experience with a commercial roaster can you tell us please whether it is a frequent practice to leave a roaster unattended?

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    There you go, trying to transfer my lack of home roasting knowledge to commercial.

    There would be a control circuit running on electricity? Just trying to imagine the damage from dumping water inside. Foam/powder would be no good, spoiling the cleanliness for future batches - if it still works.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    I have never left any roaster unattended and I can only assume that most commercial roasters, if not all, would be the same. Having said that, a fire can start in the flue or the chaff cyclone while you're standing right there. It really comes down to cleanliness and maintenance. I've never had to deal with a fire of any kind and with daily and weekly procedures in place, I doubt I ever will.

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    Having worked in a large coffee processor ( no names to protect the guilty ..but 10's of Tonnes roasted every day !) . i was always amazed at how frequent we had fires in the roaster department.
    Mainly in the extract system (chaff) and often requiring the local fire brigade to attend and assist.
    I guess when you are roasting flammable material like beans it is almost a controlled burn process. ...
    Much money and effort was lavished on systems to prevent , monitor, detect, and suppress roaster fires, but several times a month the alarms would go off and the big red trucks would roll onto the site !

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    What was the cost of the repeated callouts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thegoner View Post
    Just trying to imagine the damage from dumping water inside. Foam/powder would be no good, spoiling the cleanliness for future batches - if it still works.
    There are several other options around which eliminate these issues, though whether or not you'd go so far as to install such a system on a roaster I don't know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    What was the cost of the repeated callouts?
    I think they only bill you if it's a false alarm.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbrewster View Post
    I think they only bill you if it's a false alarm.
    F- that; if someone has to keep calling the fireies out because their commercial operation (or any other activity for that matter) presents a known risk that they refuse to adapt to and prevent, then they should damn well be paying for it.

    You can bet that if I were setting off smoke-bombs that kept setting fire to my lawn they wouldn't put up with it for long...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    F- that; if someone has to keep calling the fireies out because their commercial operation (or any other activity for that matter) presents a known risk that they refuse to adapt to and prevent, then they should damn well be paying for it...
    In a major industrial installation, there is an automatic alarm relay to the fire service...you dont have to call, they are there before most of the site even knows there is an alarm ( and often before the sites own fire team responded ).
    And yes there is (was) a cost,..significant in $$$'s in fines, Tonnes of waste product ( spoiled roasts),... but more of a concern in terms of the commercial risk from being jumped on by the OH&S authorities, and insurers .
    Im sure they would have fixed the issues eventually, or they would have been shut down....and that has not happened to the best of my knowledge ( their products are still filling the supermarket shelves anyway !)
    The situation was a farce, and totally unacceptable in any industry , but it does just highlight how susceptible coffee roasters can be to fires.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I was having dinner at a restaurant/bar owned by the Two Before Ten guys.....wondered why he ran out the place like a shot out of a gun. The roaster in question is a Diedrich (IR series I think) which run on gas. It's positioning has always made me wonder (I often sit on the control stool while waiting for a takeaway coffee).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegoner View Post
    Just trying to imagine the damage from dumping water inside. Foam/powder would be no good, spoiling the cleanliness for future batches - if it still works.
    I imagine that any suppressor system used would be built around the use of CO2...

    Mal.

  23. #23
    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    Hi all

    I have just a 2 kg HG roaster in my garage but I went out and bought a CO2 extinguisher just for that roaster. Chaff can build up very quickly from some beans more than others and its light and airy so when it does catch fire it does so quickly. I have had a small fire in the chaff box of my Gene Cafe roaster and gee I had to get that chaff box off quick and get some water onto it.

    Mike

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    Co2 is interesting, because in a cafe setting where the roaster may close to the customer, dumping a heap of co2 into the room may not help. Also chaff on fire would float around the room? At least it would be spread by any extinguisher force.

    Water probably is the solution to the chaff fire bit. A gentle mist, with another vessel under vacuum to suck the chaff into it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegoner View Post
    A gentle mist
    This is actually what I was thinking; not for bean fires, but for chaff/flue fires, would introducing spray into the flue straight after the drum/chamber provide sufficient cooling/suppression? It shouldn't have any nasty after-effects and should be pulled through with the airflow.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    F- that; if someone has to keep calling the fireies out because their commercial operation (or any other activity for that matter) presents a known risk that they refuse to adapt to and prevent, then they should damn well be paying for it.

    You can bet that if I were setting off smoke-bombs that kept setting fire to my lawn they wouldn't put up with it for long...
    They're entitled to fire protection and pay a lot more in rates than any householder.
    Let's not return to the days of insurance fire brigades. Although the way finances are going in all G20 countries, I'm sure councils would love to make some extra money.

  27. #27
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brevillista View Post
    They're entitled to fire protection and pay a lot more in rates than any householder.
    They are, but they are not entitled to intentionally operate their process in such a way that they keep having preventable emergency events because it is more financially expedient.

    If I were a farmer who wanted to clear some land and set fire to my bushland then called in the firies to put it out for me, would you find that acceptable?

  28. #28
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    All commercial properties need a fire certificate to operate, which is renewed annually. If the OIC at incident deems that the fire was caused via unsafe working practices they can/will be reinspected and not be allowed to open until they comply.
    Try opening a roastery/cafe/restaurant and see how many hoops that you have to jump through

  29. #29
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    That being the case, what in post 19 do you actually disagree with?

  30. #30
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    That being the case, what in post 19 do you actually disagree with?
    I'm disagreeing with you harping on that they should be made to pay.
    You have no idea of any of the circumstances surrounding that incident, nor any knowledge of fire precautions legislation.

  31. #31
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Brevillista View Post
    I'm disagreeing with you harping on that they should be made to pay.
    You have no idea of any of the circumstances surrounding that incident, nor any knowledge of fire precautions legislation.
    How many repetitive posts does it take before it qualifies as "harping on"? Cuz I count one.

    I'd also like to know who "they" are in this instance, as I've made no comment about the fire in the OP.



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