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Compost fire research wins praise

Date : 27 July 2017


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East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is praising a group of students from BHASVIC College in Brighton for research into the flammability of composts, following fires involving plant pots.

The first year A-level chemistry students carried out a series of experiments over the course of a year. They found that although no one brand of peat stood out as easily combustible, some brands started to combust more easily than others after being left in artificial conditions for several months.

The students presented their preliminary findings to fire officers on 12 July 2017.

Fire investigator Richard Moon said:

“Some compost fires have been attributed to spontaneous combustion but this is an area which we need more information to understand what exactly happens. This project has provided us with additional data which is really useful.”

The Service is hoping to run this research every year for the foreseeable future to gradually build up better data.

Richard Moon added:

“We’d also like to take this opportunity to point out that fire most often occurs when an external heat source makes contact with the compost. For example, a discarded cigarette butt generates temperatures in excess of 350 degrees C.”

“Smokers should avoid discarding butts in planters. Fires which begin in planters can burn unnoticed for several hours. If you spot your smoke rising from compost, douse heavily with water and if needed call 999 for further assistance.”

Read more about the project at: https://www.bhasvic.ac.uk/home/latest-news/2017/july/chemistry-enrichment/

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