Case Study: Via Rail Fire Restoration & Prevention

Case Study: Via Rail Fire Restoration & Prevention

Inside the Via Rail maintenance centre in Toronto.Technique Used: Dry Ice Blasting

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Service: Fire Restoration

Via Rail connects Canada from coast to coast—so it’s crucial to keep trains running safely and efficiently. After an incident involving an exhaust vent that caught fire, Via Rail called in the professionals at Wickens Dry Ice Blasting to restore the area and provide preventive cleaning to avoid similar issues in the future.

The Situation

An exhaust hood cleaned using dry ice blasting.The Via Rail maintenance building houses three rail tracks where locomotive maintenance is conducted, with multiple exhaust hoods used to evacuate the engine exhaust. Over time, diesel dust residue had built up on these hoods. Heat from a locomotive’s exhaust set fire to the residue on a hood, creating smoke and soot damage. The fire was quickly extinguished by the fire repression system, but the risk of fire existed on all remaining hoods and had to be remediated to eliminate a reoccurrence.

It was determined after this incident that all of the exhaust hoods, fans, and exhaust stacks above and below the roof line had to be cleaned to avoid any further fires. In addition to the potential of ignition caused by the heat from the locomotive, the exhaust fan motors could pose a potential fire hazard if failure occurred from overheating. In both cases, the cleaned surfaces would not provide an ignition point with the diesel dust removed.

The SolutionBefore and after photo of dry ice cleaning on exhaust vent hoods.

Dry ice blasting was used to clean the total exhaust system—a key factor of risk management and prevention. The only other way to clean the system would be by hand, which would take 5 times longer to complete the job, causing extended downtime for the operation. Dry ice creates no secondary waste, which was important in minimizing cleanup on the rails and sensitive equipment on the ground. The large fleet of equipment that Wickens owns allowed the project to be completed in a timely fashion.

Steps Taken:

  1. Containment of all sensitive equipment to avoid fallout of contamination such as walls and electronic equipment.
  2. Fire suppression system detached and reattached.
  3. Nine hood systems were cleaned using 3 specialized dry ice blast stations and articulating man lifts with a 5-man crew.
  4. Collection and disposal of all hazardous waste was carefully carried out to comply with Ministry of the Environment standards.

The Result

The project was completed on time and on budget by successfully decontaminating the exhaust systems, removing both the fire damage and the dust containing diesel residue. The rail lines were put back in service quickly, minimizing downtime for Via Rail.

For more information on our fire restoration process, contact Wickens today!

Roger White