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Safety for the Eider: Water, accident and fire protection at ACO

Spring is herring fishing time: numerous anglers have been fishing on the banks of the Obereider port since March to catch the popular delicacy from the Eider by the bucket full. Insiders know that the bank opposite ACO in Büdelsdorf is a really good location for catching the silvery fish. Fishing directly opposite the industrial site is no problem because when it comes to water protection, we naturally take a very personal approach.A whole array of installations and protective measures on the factory premises protect the water quality and the fish in the Eider. Exercises are also regularly carried out in what to do in the event of an emergency — such as the fire protection and accident drills carried out with the Büdelsdorf fire brigade.

Water protection

Every resident is statutorily obliged to protect any neighbouring water bodies. ACO's commitment to protecting the Eider goes beyond what is stipulated in these regulations — as has been the case for many years. Back in 1998, ACO engineer Michael Müller (see picture) developed a completely new type of sand trap system. This filters the sand and other sediments out of the rainwater that drains from the site and is discharged into the Eider. Without this system, the Obereider port would be exposed to the risk of gradually silting up and thus also damaging the habitats and hatcheries of many fish. Instead of the standard large settling pond which can measure up to 15 x 30 m, the water in this special system flows underground in a circle through only 1.5 m wide shafts around a type of spiral. This causes the sand to settle out on the ground so that only sand-free water can flow on over the bordering submerged wall. Three of these sand traps are now in operation on the ACO premises.

Accident protection

The sand traps also play an important role in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or an accident involving a truck in the logistics yard. With their volume of approx. 1,500 litres, they can also quickly contain large volumes of extinguishing water or spilled liquids such as diesel or oil. This gives the fire brigade enough time to close the pipes discharging into the Eider River with special tools and a shut-off valve. Although not legally stipulated, these shut-off valves have been installed in response to the findings of the regular risk analyses carried out by ACO as part of its quality management process.

Fire protection drill report

The fire alarm for the drill goes off at Büdelsdorf fire station. ACO's guard service detected smoke in building 04 (ACO's maintenance building in the Am Ahlmannkai road). People are still thought to be in the building, which can no longer be entered because of the large amount of smoke generated by the fire.

Sirens can be heard just a short time later: 40 firemen and firewomen from the Büdelsdorf fire brigade left the fire station with flashing blue lights and reached the building after only 7 minutes. Two ambulances from DRK Rendsburg have also arrived to look after any injured persons that might be found at the site. Thanks to the close co-operation between ACO and the surrounding fire brigades, the affected building, gates and fire-fighting water hydrants are rapidly located on the fire brigade operations plan. Extinguishing water is extracted from the Eider via intake manifolds. The pipe-sealing cushions made available to the fire brigade by ACO in the event of fires or accidents were transported to the site on the fire engines to enable any previously identified hubs in the drainage system to be directly sealed, with the aim of pumping out any potentially contaminated wastewater in a controlled way. The shut-off valves in front of the sand traps are also closed. This prevents extinguishing water from flowing directly into the Eider river. The extinguishing water is initially retained in the sand traps.

1.5 hours later, the drill has come to an end, and all of the firemen and firewomen are very relieved. It turned out that the metalworking shop as well as the joinery had gone up in flames because of a technical defect. In addition, there was also an accident with a forklift truck in the joinery. Thirteen people, played in this realistic drill by actors and dummies, were trapped by the fire, and one of them was also trapped beneath a forklift truck. All of the trapped people were rescued and the fire was extinguished. A lot of water was used to extinguish the fire and needed to be pumped away in a controlled manner. This is where the water protection measures implemented at the site came into their own. The conclusion at the end of the exercise was that ACO's emergency management and the co-operation with the fire brigade functioned extremely smoothly. The new digital radios used by the fire brigade — replacing the old analogue devices — also made communications within the building much easier. Improvements were, however, needed to the grid of hydrants on the premises, and this will now be implemented. Nevertheless, adequate quantities of extinguishing water could be extracted from the Eider River via the intake manifolds.