Danger of Shredder Fires

There have been a rash of news reports about shredding trucks and shredding plants having fires. Over the weekend it was a truck at a community shredding event. Today it was at a shredding plant in Lawrenceville. The increased reports may lead you to believe that something is going on.

After 30 years in the shredding business we learned a few things about the risk of fire and shredding. We did have fires in shredding trucks but never at our plant. Unless you are a fireman you don’t want to have enough experience to be a true expert in fires.

The first thing to consider is the equipment itself. Any piece of equipment can overheat. The same threat is true of the shredders they sell at the office supply store. If ran continously or for too long they pose a fire risk. Different types of shredders run faster and get hotter.  This is a reason that “cross cut” shredders do not scale to industial sizes. More common are “shear shredders” in an industrial setting.

There are still threats that can lead to a fire. The most basic is what is going through the shredder. Large pieces of metal can cause sparks or if large enough jam up the shredder. For industrial equipment that is likely to be metal larger than three ring binders. We have no problem with something as small as paper clips or staples. One time we had significant repair costs from a a stapler, yes, the whole stapler. To this day it doesn’t seem to make sense why someone would put an entire stapler into a shredding bin.

The last risk is from the dust. Shredding paper does produce a lot of dust. If not managed a spark can cause the fire. Most shredding plants use a dust control system to reduce the risk of fire and also make the plant better for people working there.

So in the end there will always be a risk of fire when operating shredding equipment. But a good operator will train employees and set up systems to mitigate the threat. The good news is that in the end the documents were supposed to be destroyed and the fire only finishes off the job.

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