Due to an increased number of wind turbines installed across the world, it is inevitable that fires are going to occur from time to time and can be caused by several things.
Fires can occur in distinct locations and heights and may involve various fuels and ignition sources. A wind turbine’s primary objective is to produce electricity. Hence, several possible ignition sources exist from ground level and in more than a few wind farms, from underground levels up to more than 80 metres above ground. A recent study noted that over 340 wind turbine fires had been reported over the last 20 years.
Fuels can include electrical cables, plastics, and even textiles, any and all of which can also be found at all heights. Since the construction materials used in these towers and their components will invariably include plastics and possibly some combustible metals (e.g., titanium and aluminium, among others), as well as relatively easily deformable metallic structural and enclosure materials, the consequences of a fire in a wind turbine can be disastrous.
It is imperative that emergency responders interact with the wind turbine operators to create, implement, and maintain pre-emergency response planning. Responders should go to the site to familiarise themselves with the facilities and develop simulation emergency exercises with the operators.