The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Whisky Distillary Fire

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 03, 2013

Now this is what I call a real catastrophic disaster!

A court in Glasgow (Scotland) was told how two workers were filling whisky casks in a warehouse when a fire broke out causing the loss of more than 17,500 litres of the precious liquid.

The fire happened on 29 June 2011 when the men were on a metal walkway at the top levels of the warehouse using flexible hoses to fill 450-litre casks with whisky.

Having filled four casks, one worker turned to see a jet of whisky shooting up towards a ceiling light fitting above a fork lift truck.

The whisky hit the light fitting and a flame exploded over the forklift.

Both workers fled the warehouse, activating the fire alarm as they left.

Thousands of litres of the burning spirit poured down the racked casks and onto the forklift truck until the supplying pump was turned off about 15 minutes later.

The forklift truck was described as looking like 'a Christmas pudding once brandy is set alight'.

An investigation into the fire by the UK HSE found that the central aisle lights in the warehouse should not have been used in a flammable atmosphere and, had they been checked, they would have been identified as an ignition source trigger.

The investigation also highlighted that the filling equipment was not suitable for use to transfer a hazardous substance like alcohol at pressure.

Had the company taken the simple steps of checking the light fittings were suitable for use in a flammable atmosphere and that the equipment used to transfer the alcohol was fit for purpose this incident could have been prevented.


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