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The original fire suppression agent has always been, of course, water. In the age of sail, it was ideal. Not so with the advent of the combustion engine, however. When applied to burning petroleum, the fire spreads. It also simply destroys electronics. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and Halon derivatives were the first widely used commercial fire suppression solutions, gaining popularity in the 1950s and '60s. Unlike water, they were highly effective, electrically non-conductive and didn't leave any residue. As compressed gases, storage wasn't a major issue. Unfortunately, Halon was found to be a high ozone depleting chemical; as a result, production was banned in 1990. Evolution Of Fire Suppression Systems Ideal for marine applications, HFC227 is fast, effective and clean With the sunsetting of Halon and the search for alternatives, CO2 gained prominence. However, it has three significant drawbacks: it's a greenhouse gas, requires a large number of cylinders and is potentially fatal if breathed at design concentrations. In the 1990s, HFCs rose to dominance as a fire suppression solution. Ideal for marine applications, HFC227 is fast, effective and clean. Like Halon and CO2, however, it's a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming. Discharging an average-sized cylinder of HFC227 has the same CO2 equivalent as driving a car 268,760 kilometers. This is why it is being eliminated as part of a phased-down mandate from the EU, and restricted or taxed by various countries such as Australia and Norway. It is expected that similar legislation will begin to affect Canada and US-flagged vessels. Environmental Profile Of HFCs In 2002, 3M introduced Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid. It offers a number of important advantages over other clean agents in marine fire suppression applications. It has low acute toxicity and high extinguishing efficiency. This gives it a wide margin of safety compared to other chemical clean agents such as HFC227. A fluid, it vaporizes rapidly during discharge, is non-corrosive, non-conductive and leaves no residue. It is, importantly, a long-term, sustainable solution with virtually zero global warming potential, e.g., it has an atmospheric life of about a week versus HFC227's 34 years. So confident is 3M of its product, it offers its BlueSkySM Warranty; if it is ever banned or restricted from use due to its environmental properties, the company will refund the cost of the fluid. Unlike CO2, a gas, Novec 1230 fluid can be flown to the vessel or platform allowing less downtime waiting for supplies to arrive by ground For the marine and offshore oil and gas industries, Novec 1230 fluid offers distinct advantages. Because it's a fluid, recharging is simple. Unlike CO2, a gas, it can be flown to the vessel or platform. This means less downtime waiting for supplies to arrive by ground. It also takes up significantly less space. Recently, Sea-Fire Europe ceased distribution of HFC227. The move was strategic and ethical, given the environmental profile of HFCs. Novec 1230 Fluid For Recreational Marine Market With the phase-down of HFCs, supplies are running out. This means in the immediate future there will be a serious inability to service systems. Also, with shortages beginning, costs are rising, making the switch to Novec 1230 fluid a smart move financially. While 3M will obviously benefit from this, the real winner here is our planet and the people we share it with" Sea-Fire recognizes that it may lose business in the short term as boat and shipbuilders continue to choose HFC-based fire systems strictly based on cost alone. But, ultimately, eliminating the use of hydrofluorocarbons is the right thing to do for the marine industry as a whole. As the first manufacturer to introduce Novec 1230 fluid into the recreational marine market in 2012, Sea-Fire is fully prepared for the phase-out of HFCs. Benefitting The Marine Industry "As a corporation, 3M is committed to improving every life," said David Olds, 3M account executive for fire suppression applications. "Sea-Fire Europe made a difficult decision when announcing it would cease distribution of HFC227. While 3M will obviously benefit from this, the real winner here is our planet and the people we share it with." Sea-Fire Marine has long held the belief that it is in the business of protecting people and property at sea. With its recent declaration that its master European distributor Sea-Fire Europe is ending distribution of HFC-based fire suppression fluids, it can add the environment to its list.
While whole room protection – sprinklers or gas systems – is a common choice, there is an argument for thinking smaller; taking fire detection and suppression down to the equipment, enclosures and even the components where a fire is most likely to start. Traditional Fire Suppression Methods A traditional water-based sprinkler system is the most common form of fire protection found in commercial and industrial buildings. They offer reasonable cost, large area protection for entire facilities, safeguarding the structure and personnel by limiting the spread and impact of a fire. Every square foot of the protected area is covered equally regardless of the contents of the space, whether it’s an empty floor or an object with an increased risk of fire. Sprinklers aren’t always the most appropriate choice. Not all fires are extinguished by water of course, and in some cases, water damage can be just as harmful or even more so than the fire. They are an impractical choice for instance for facilities housing anything electrical, such as data centres and server rooms. There is also the risk of accidental activation, with an estimated cost of up to $1,000 for every minute they are left running. Water damage can be just as harmful or even more so than any fire, so sprinklers may not be appropriate Targeted Supplementary Fire Suppression An alternative method to protect whole server rooms and data centres is gas fire suppression, which either suppresses the fire by displacing oxygen (inert) or by using a form of cooling mechanism (chemical/synthetic). These aren’t without risk; in the case of inert gas, oxygen is reduced to less than 15% to suffocate the fire, but must be kept above 12% to avoid endangering the lives of personnel. Similarly, clean agent gas can be toxic in high doses. There are smaller, focused systems that give the option of highly targeted supplementary fire suppression within fire risk areas. Installing a system directly into the areas most at risk, means that fires can be put out before they take hold and cause serious damage. Both sprinkler and gas systems can contain a fire, but micro-environment or closed space systems are completely automatic, detecting and suppressing the fire so rapidly that activating a sprinkler or gas total flooding system often isn’t necessary. The most popular enclosure fire suppression systems achieve this though the use of a flexible and durable polymer tubing that is routed easily through the tightest spaces. The tubing is extremely sensitive to heat and, because it can be placed so close to potential failure points, detects it and releases the fire suppression agent up to ten times faster than traditional systems. An airline was forced to cancel over 2,000 flights after a “small fire” in one of its data centers Cost-Effective Fire Protection Highly customizable, small enclosure fire suppression is specifically designed to protect business critical spaces and equipment. It is typically used inside machinery like CNC machines, mobile equipment like forklifts and inside server rooms and electrical cabinetry but is suitable for any hazard that’s considered to have an elevated fire risk. Some may question the need or cost-effectiveness of protecting micro-environments. However, examples abound of where fires that have started at component level have gone on to cause damage of the highest magnitude, and the cost of downtime can be crippling to many time-sensitive facilities and processes. An airline was forced to cancel over 2,000 flights in August 2016 when what was described as a “small fire” in one of its data centers ultimately led to a computer outage. The cost of that small fire, and the domino effect that quickly escalated from it, has since been announced as $150m. Admittedly that number is unusually high - the average cost of a data centre outage today is estimated at a more conservative $730,000 – but this is still an expense businesses can ill afford. Preventing Major Losses Staying with the transport industry, newer metros systems have redundant systems in place to prevent interruptions. However, older metro lines, such as the one in New York City, have experienced electrical fires that started small, but grew to such a magnitude that service was affected for months.Older metro lines, such as New York City's, have experience electrical fires that start small but grew exponentially A wind energy customer experienced a fire in a turbine converter cabinet. The loss of the cabinet was valued at over $200,000 and disabled the turbine for six weeks. Following investment in fire suppression systems inside the electrical cabinet, a subsequent fire was detected and suppressed before major damage could be caused. The cost on this occasion was therefore limited to a $25,000 component and downtime was less than two days.Equally - happily - there are also many instances where the installation of small enclosure fire suppression has prevented disaster. In the manufacturing world, CNC machines are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars and need to be constantly operational to justify the investment. Oil coolant used in the machines can create a flash fire in an instant due to failed components or programming errors. The fact that many of these facilities are run ‘lights out’ with no personnel present further exacerbates the risk. If a fire is not dealt with immediately, the machine will be destroyed; sprinklers don’t react quickly enough for this scenario and would be ineffective. Ensuring Business Continuity One such flash fire occurred inside a protected CNC machine at a machine shop in Iowa. The polymer tubing ruptured within a fraction of a second, releasing the suppression agent and extinguishing the flames. The machine was undamaged and was operational again with a few hours. Contrast this to a previous fire at the same facility in an unprotected machine; it was out of operation for 4 days, costing the business thousands of dollars in downtime In short, fire protection is an essential element of our industrial and commercial environments to ensure both safety and business continuity. However, the nature of that protection is changing, as capacity increases to cost-effectively protect specific areas where fires are most likely to start. Risk mitigation analysis needs to look beyond what has been accepted in the past and find ways to further limit the impact of a small fire using this next level of protection. The benefits can really have a positive effect on the bottom line in the event of fire.
VIKING Safety Academy has addressed a fast-emerging seafarer training issue brought by coronavirus by delivering a unique e-learning tool that can keep seafarers STCW compliant until restrictions on movement and social interactions come to an end. With many countries in lockdown, face to face seafarer training is also being suspended and some flag administrations have responded by granting automatic three-month extensions to the STCW Certificates seafarers must update every five years. However, VIKING Safety Academy has designed a unique training set-up so that seafarers can undergo training for a full certificate renewal even while the crisis persists. VIKING Safety Academy has worked with Estonia’s Reval Safety Training to offer STCW refresher training on an e-learning basis for Estonian seafarers. Personal Survival Techniques The training set-up includes: Personal Survival Techniques, Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting, Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats, Fast Rescue Boats and Advanced Fire Fighting. “Seafarers can now use e-learning to train and renew certificates during these extraordinary times and maintain proof of competence,” says Camilla Runge Nissen, VIKING Safety Academy Product Manager, Training. "They can secure a longer six months extension and can make good use of the time getting ahead in the compliance process.” provisional STCW certificate Seafarers can visit a Reval Safety Training center during the six-month period for classroom/practical training Once the seafarer has completed the e-learning course, whether onboard or at home, he/she is given a provisional STCW certificate extension. Should conditions allow, seafarers can visit a Reval Safety Training center during the six-month period for classroom/practical training and secure a five-year Certificate of Proficiency, or complete once the crisis passes. While the STCW certificates extension based on e-learning is only available to Estonian residents for now, the course could easily be extended to other flag states, Nissen says. “All elements of the temporary package have been approved by the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA), we are already talking to other flag states and we can quickly roll this out.” digitally powered solutions The Norwegian Maritime Authority recently announced that it will allow seafarers onboard Norwegian vessels to join vessels until July 1st this year, even if they have only completed the theoretical relevant parts of STCW. “Under this guidance, e-learning is part of the picture, demonstrating that the set-up developed for Estonia can be very useful elsewhere.” Benny Carlsen, VIKING Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, adds that the new e-learning initiative aligns closely with group efforts to keep seafarers and owners compliant, safe, and as hassle and worry free as possible “free from stress”. “In extraordinary times, we need proactive and digitally-powered solutions to ensure that a training headache does not become a lasting issue.”
Based in Denmark, VIKING is one of the manufacturers in the field of maritime and offshore safety. It provides and maintains high-quality safety equipment for passenger and commercial vessels, offshore installations, leisure craft, fishing vessels and the navy. But “landlubbers” in the shape of firefighters aren't forgotten either and benefit from complete rescue solutions in a variety of forms, ranging from standard equipment to specialist technology that offers the highest quality and performance. protective clothing for firefighters At INTERSCHUTZ 2020 the company is focusing on protective clothing for firefighters, but nonetheless also presenting its core expertise in maritime and offshore safety.The innovations that VIKING has so far announced it is showcasing in Hannover include a firefighter hood with Nano Flex technology, which the company sees as a major breakthrough in barrier protection for firefighting. This new, triple-layered hood is yet another step in the company’s quest to combat harmful particles, this time in the neck, ear and jaw areas, without compromising on the wearer's comfort.
Container firefighting across the V.Ships Hamburg container ship fleet has been entrusted to the HydroPen system, after VIKING Life-Saving Equipment secured a contract to protect over 40 ships against one of the industry’s fastest growing safety hazards. Countering rise in container fires The alarming rise in the number of container fires has brought calls for urgent action from the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI), with stakeholders urged to encourage IMO to strengthen fire protection and review firefighting equipment onboard existing ships. Fighting a fire high up in the stack from the deck is often ineffective, with containers dowsed on the outside while materials inside continue to burn. As ship sizes have increased, so have stack heights. HydroPen Container firefighting system HydroPen system is based on an innovative drilling and spraying machine that allows deck crew to fight fires successfully The HydroPen system is based on an innovative drilling and spraying machine that allows deck crew to fight fires successfully high up in the stack. Developed by Rosenby Engineering and distributed exclusively by VIKING, the HydroPen unit is attached to existing ship hoses and raised by a single crew member using a telescopic lift. The HydroPen is powered by water pressure alone and drills through the container door before switching to spray mode to extinguish the fire with water, foam or C02. “For V.Ships, new technologies that support safety excellence are always welcome, while keeping customers ahead of the competition through innovation is one of our core values,” says Franck Kayser, Group Managing Director, V.Ships Ship Management. “HydroPen is an easy to use but ground-breaking system that addresses a specific industry concern. Its adoption fleetwide aligns with our ‘safety first’ commitment.” Container ship fleet fire safety VIKING will deliver 88 HydroPen systems to 45 V.Ships Hamburg container ships by February 2020. One unit will be positioned astern and the other towards the bow to enable rapid response. “Securing an order of this magnitude from one of the leading ship management companies in the world is a major vindication of the work behind bringing the HydroPen system to market,” says Lasse Boesen, Product Manager Trade, VIKING. Enhanced fire safety Lasse adds, “Several of the most recent container fires have occurred on very large ships. These ships can only call at a limited number of ports, making it critical that container fires are dealt with on board. The feedback that we are getting on HydroPen is that the system’s true value comes from its being so easy to use.” The HydroPen has already seen service, after a pilot system was used to extinguish a real fire at sea “We continuously seek to offer the very latest technologies to our maritime customers and in the HydroPen we believe we have a solution that will quickly become a ‘must-have’ to address a serious and widespread issue,” says Benny Carlsen, VIKING Senior Vice President. The HydroPen has already seen service, after a pilot system was used to extinguish a real fire at sea, he adds. VIKING and V.Ships partnership On the cooperation between VIKING and V.Ships, VIKING’s Sales Director for Europe and Africa, Dorte M. Hansen comments, “V.Ships is a valued customer and a true first-mover when it comes to safety. We’re delighted that they trust our solutions when it comes to protecting their crews and assets.” VIKING is a global renowned security and fire safety company in maritime and offshore applications. VIKING's products and safety solutions save and protect people all over the world. They provide essential safety and fire-fighting equipment, including chute and slide-based marine and offshore evacuation and crew transfer systems, life rafts, lifejackets, immersion suits, fire suits, work suits, pilot suits, transportation suits, man overboard (MOB) boats, davits and other life-saving appliances.