18 December 2008

The TT Club is strongly urging all operators of mobile equipment to be aware of the risk of hydraulic fires.

Laurence Jones, the TT Club's Director Global Risk Assessment says that mobile equipment fires are widespread at ports and terminals. "In the last two years, the TT Club has received about fifty claims resulting from hydraulic fires in mobile equipment. This type of incident can result in serious injuries to workers and be very costly in repairs and operational downtime".

The cause of these fires is often hydraulic oil coming into contact with hot machine components, having escaped through burst hoses or leaking fittings. All mobile equipment using hydraulics are at risk, including reachstackers, lift trucks, fork lifts, straddle carriers, rubber-tyred gantry cranes, mobile cranes, tractor units and trucks.

The risk of fire can be significantly reduced when the manufacturers' maintenance instructions are followed - which will include regular inspections, cleaning and maintenance, and replacement of the hydraulic hoses and connections. Only approved, high quality hydraulic hoses and fittings, complying with recognised international standards should be used.

"Given the frequency with which these fires happen in mobile equipment, we recommend that all mobile equipment operators ensure appropriate maintenance procedures are in place, and that machines should be inspected - and potentially modified - to ensure all hydraulic hoses and components are segregated and covered with a protective material to stop any hydraulic leaks spraying onto the electrical systems or hot components.", states Laurence Jones.

Fire suppression systems are not commonly installed in equipment of this nature, although the result of fire damage is frequently a write-off of the unit. This is because until now the cost of a suppression system in, for example, a heavy lift truck could be USD8,000. However, the Club has been evaluating recent technology development that enables fire suppression to be installed at a cost in the region of USD500, depending on the precise requirements. The unit, called Fire Foe™, uses patented technology that combines a special extinguishing gel (Envirogel®) inside heat-sensitive nylon tubes. There is no need for external sensor systems or power supply. In addition, the design makes fitting or retro-fitting easy, minimising down time. The complete unit has been accredited by US Underwriters Laboratory and the US Coastguard. In addition, Envirogel® is also SNAP approved by the US Environment Protection Agency, who declared it an acceptable Halon substitute in streaming and flooding applications, and safe for use in occupied spaces. Details of this new system can be found at

or email:

. The Club believes that this type of development has significant potential to reduce the risk of injury and minimise handling equipment damage and consequent disruption to operations.

It now makes economic sense and the TT Club strongly recommends installation of an accredited fire suppressant system in mobile equipment engine compartments and in any confined space.

Note to Editors:

The TT Club is the international transport and logistics industry's leading provider of insurance and related risk management services. Established in 1968, the Club's membership comprises ship operators, ports and terminals, road, rail and airfreight operators, logistics companies and container lessors. As a mutual insurer, the Club exists to provide its policyholders with benefits, which include specialist underwriting expertise, a world-wide office network providing claims management services, and first class risk management and loss prevention advice.

Enquiries to:

Ian Lush, TT Club

Tel: +44 (0)20 7204 2642


ian.lush@thomasmiller.comMedia contact:

Peter Owen, ISIS Communications

Tel: +44 (0)1737 248300


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