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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 Life-saving Equipment is maintaining momentum in its development of the most complete range of safety solutions to cover the risks facing wind turbine service technicians, by introducing an easily accessible and self-contained evacuation kit located in the tower. Following a collaborative design project, VIKING has launched a tower evacuation kit that fits snugly into what is currently an unused space between the platform handrails and the tower’s outer wall. Housed in a PPE chest developed by JoBird, the evacuation kit includes VIKING YouSafe™ HighTide immersion suits with integrated harnesses and Skylotec MILAN descent devices. Easily accessible via a hinged lid, the polyethylene chest slots into position in the void space at the platform’s edge where it is held in place between railings and tower wall by standard brackets. Each unit can accommodate six sets of evacuation equipment. Design and features VIKING made a strong market impact with the launch of an all-in-one evacuation kit for technicians Earlier this year, VIKING made a strong market impact with the launch of an all-in-one evacuation kit for technicians working at wind turbine nacelle level, once again featuring a special-purpose storage unit from JoBird and Skylotec rescue devices. Located on the helihoist platform, the outside container is built to withstand 100 mph winds for 30 years. In contrast, the new container for the protected lower platform is lightweight and formed to enable drop-in installation. right evacuation equipment “Now, we can offer evacuation solutions that deliver identical ISO-, SOLAS- and Class-approved life-saving equipment to protect wind turbine service technicians from the top to the bottom of the tower,” says Bettina Kjærgaard, Global Product Manager, Offshore Wind, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment. “In emergency situations, having immediate access to the right evacuation equipment can be decisive.” Wind sector The latest product evolved out of a dialogue between VIKING and design engineers developing a new wind turbine installation, she adds. “VIKING is very established offshore but we take it as a welcome indication of our progress in the specialized wind sector that we are being consulted on safety issues at the earliest stages.” The result is an evacuation kit that is integrated with the tower lay-out and within easy reach of turbine service personnel. With clip hooks to attach to railings, 125m of rope and a speed regulating rescue descender the integral solution is also suitable for lowering injured or unconscious personnel. Secured contract “Like many good ideas, the self-contained tower solution is creative and simple, and we have secured our first major contract already,” says Kjærgaard. “Offshore wind is a growing sector which takes the risks faced by the technicians putting their lives at risk day in, day out very seriously. For highly-skilled offshore professionals, HQSE is a key indicator of employment standards.”
The VIKING YouSafe™ Vanguard inflatable lifejacket has been developed after the leading supplier asked designers to return to first principles and deliver a versatile, high-quality product to meet new standards of comfort and safety in order to ensure compliance. Developed to meet (275N) offshore industry standards is SOLAS/MED-approved and CE/ISO-accredited. “Based on customer feedback, our designers continuously refine our safety products on the reality that if they are not worn correctly, they won’t work correctly,” says Global Product Manager Bettina Kjaergaard, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment. “Compliance is a given for the offshore industries and the VIKING YouSafeTM Vanguard features fully tested and proven solutions in that respect, but lifejackets are also workwear: comfort and versatility help crews and engineers stay safe as they work day-in, day-out.” webbing system Forming the jacket to redistribute weight away from the neck and shoulder area and provide more space for mobility provided a special design focus, where user movements are often affected by needing to wear a helmet and communications gear. The lifejacket also includes high-visibility colors to attract user attention immediately to specific features in emergency situations, a new webbing system designed for easy and intuitive donning and a snug, comfortable fit. “Staying at the forefront of lifejacket design depends on responding to specific market demands: The VIKING YouSafeTM Vanguard demonstrates our awareness of the tasks offshore crews face over extended periods at sea,” says Bettina Kjaergaard. “Body-fit, freedom of movement, efficiency in securing straps and even aesthetics impact their willingness to wear a lifejacket properly and remain compliant in pressure situations.” Given that the offshore workforce can be deployed over a wide area, the new lifejacket is also designed for multiple jurisdictions. In addition to SOLAS compliance, the VIKING YouSafe™ Vanguard also includes front and back inspection windows featuring single point indicators on inflator readiness to comply with the EU’s latest Directive on PPE. YouSafe™ Vanguard lifejacket The VIKING YouSafe™ Vanguard lifejacket will be fully supported by the company’s global servicing network. Every lifejacket is supplied with its own digital identifier, enabling VIKING to offer full track and trace capability and to maintain up to date records for servicing and replacement. “This lifejacket is the latest addition to our offshore safety portfolio, as we continue to innovate for the challenges facing established oil & gas clients and our expanding group of wind energy customers alike,” says Jens Peter Kruse, Vice President Global Fire & PPE Products, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment. “It is also the latest example of a VIKING next generation safety product which is multipurpose as well as fit for purpose.” New products from VIKING in 2021 include an all-on-one offshore wind turbine evacuation kit with the VIKING YouSafe™ Hightide suit with integral harnesses, gloves and lowering device, a range of innovative VIKING YouSafe™ helicopter aviation suits and the VIKING YouSafe™ Walk-to-Work onesize immersion suit for offshore customers stored in a pouch at the back of the lifejacket to enable ‘hands-free protection’ for maintenance crews transferring from work boats to a fixed installation offshore.
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment launches fully certified, three-in-one protective gear so first responders can be ready for wildland fires, technical rescue/extrication, or emergency medical operations. The VIKING Shield is a new generation of multi-purpose protective gear that allows crews answering emergency calls to get underway assured of having the gear that is fit-to-purpose, whatever lies ahead. The challenges are growing with more frequent and larger wildland fires and frequent exposure to bloodborne pathogens during emergency rescues. VIKING Shield is the only gear certified by UL as compliant with NFPA 1977, 1951, and 1999 standards, offering bloodborne pathogen protection for technical rescue/extrication and emergency medical operations. VIKING Shield “Three-in-one protection is part of the design for the VIKING Shield,” said Grant Grinstead, Fire Segment Sales Manager, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment. “The Gore® SR moisture barrier liner protects against water ingress, bloodborne pathogens, and chemicals for crews responding to vehicle extrication and emergency medical operations. For wildland fires, pushbuttons snap the liner out, making the VIKING Shield an NFPA 1977-compliant wildland garment.” Gore® SR Features VIKING Shield gear is tailored to fit responders rather than being limited to standard sizes The Gore® SR moisture barrier is a lightweight film laminated to a substrate, which is both durable and tear-resistant while remaining comfortable against the skin. The VIKING Shield’s outer shell is made from Safety Components Sigma™ with a comfortable twill weave and a unique blend of fibers to provide the resistance to flame spread and fire required for NFPA compliance. As well as being multi-functional, VIKING Shield gear is tailored to fit responders rather than being limited to standard sizes. “If it fits better and feels better, you can wear it longer,” commented Grinstead. “We develop gear with firefighters, conducting wear trials to evaluate real situations.” Deserving High-Quality gear “Hardworking firefighters deserve higher quality gear that’s better to wear than what’s on the market,” said Camilla Callesen, VIKING design engineer. “VIKING Shield gear is as lightweight and form-fit as we can make it, with no compromise on safety. All good gear starts with extensive research,” she says. The collaborative approach set VIKING apart, he said, when it came to details such as waterproof press buttons and zippers, and lay-flat pockets on pants and coats. VIKING has also added a shoulder pad design to make coats more comfortable for responders wearing heavy equipment or backpacks. Departments have a choice of traditional tan, black and dark navy blue, with dual-color garments available for visibility. “Firefighters out on the interstate may be called on when they don’t have full turnout gear on, or to rescues where heavily insulated turnout gear isn’t necessary,” said Grinstead. “Either way, VIKING Shield offers the triple-certified garment to cover the gap.”
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