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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 has acquired HydroPen, the company behind the unique HydroPenTM container firefighting solution supplied to hundreds of ships. HydroPen's rapid uptake has been due to its combination of innovation, efficiency and ease of use. Attached to a ship’s hose and raised on a telescopic arm by a single crew member, water pressure alone powers its ‘drill and spray’ nozzle to penetrate a container door before switching to spray mode to extinguish a fire with water, foam or CO2 – directly at its source.HydroPen was founded in 2016 by Martin Winkel, CEO and Jesper Rosenfelt Hansen, CTO and system inventor. Their inspiration was to apply innovative, safe and user-friendly technology, to revolutionize firefighting on board container vessels. fire-fighting equipment improvements Around the same time, the need for new solutions was on the rise across the industry. Nine major container ship fires were reported in 2019, followed by ten incidents in 2020, while the leading transports and logistics insurer, TT Club estimates that a container fire occurs on average once every 60 days. The International Union of Marine Insurance has called for ship design and fire-fighting equipment improvements on Ultra Large Container Ships. The acquisition also follows a fire in April onboard a 4,200TEU container ship off Malaysia, which called 50 local firefighters into action after the vessel returned to anchorage. “This is a significant acquisition for VIKING and for safety in the container shipping industry,” says Lasse Boesen, Senior Product Manager, VIKING. “We approached the HydroPen originators shortly after the system won the 2017 Danish Tech Challenge accelerator prize. From its official launch at SMM 2018, VIKING became HydroPen’s exclusive distributor, going on to support orders from some of the industry’s biggest names.” integrating HydroPen We are integrating HydroPen into our portfolio, in another evolution of our full scope strategy for marine safety: “Once crews familiarize themselves with HydroPen, there is no going back - and since its introduction, the system has already proven itself in live firefighting situations. Recently, HydroPen has also generated interest among land-based fire-fighting operators who have been quick to recognize its value," adds Boesen. “We are integrating HydroPen into our portfolio, in another evolution of our full scope strategy for marine safety,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen, CEO, VIKING. “The HydroPen system meets a specific and widespread industry challenge and safety concern while aligning with VIKING’s role as an innovation leader and trusted safety partner, as also demonstrated by the system winning the Safety at Sea Award for Best Safety Product, Fire-fighting.” container firefighting technology Both HydroPen’s Martin Winkel and Jesper Rosenfelt Hansen are happy to see VIKING carry the baton forward on bringing the HydroPen system to market. “VIKING and HydroPen have enjoyed an exceptional spell of cooperation from day one” says Mr. Winkel and continues: “Driving innovation at the service of saving lives is at the core of what we’ve wanted to achieve with HydroPen and we are confident that our innovation will be safe with VIKING. Together we have successfully positioned the HydroPen system as the most innovative container firefighting technology in the industry and we can’t wait to follow the journey ahead, both as active stakeholders in the transition period and beyond.”
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment A/S has now been operating for a full year in market conditions dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenging situation, VIKING maintained a high level of activity and achieved satisfactory earnings in 2020. Turnover of nearly 2.6 billion DKK represents a decline of 185 million DKK year over year, yet it is still the second-highest figure ever recorded by the company. Profit before tax of 168.9 million DKK is also lower than the record result in 2019. VIKING CEO Henrik Uhd Christensen is satisfied with the company’s ability to withstand difficult market conditions, which have simultaneously impacted the most important customer groups and triggered a perfect storm. “We made great efforts to prepare and to understand how COVID-19 would impact our business. The extreme fluctuations in demand have greatly impacted our production and service apparatus, but our strong global structure with a worldwide presence has enabled us to service customers despite the far-reaching restrictions. We have demonstrated our ability to adapt. Dedicated employees throughout our organization deserve the highest praise for successfully maintaining and expanding our market position,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen. Struggling Industries Poised For A Rebound The passenger ship market saw a meltdown of the cruise industry from the outset of the pandemic The largest customer segment, the cargo vessel market, benefited during the financial year from high freight rates in container shipping. The cargo market as a whole is volatile, particularly in the subsegments tank and dry bulk, as seen when tankers were used to store oil due to a slump in sales. Global freight transport by sea is expected to continue growing, albeit at lower freight rates. The passenger ship market, which consists of cruise vessels and ferries, saw a meltdown of the cruise industry from the outset of the pandemic. The reduced mobility between countries and regions also severely impacted ferry traffic due to closed routes and ships taken out of service. “I am certain that cruises will bounce back, but the industry probably won’t approach normalization until 2022. The large operators normally receive prepayments, which provides some crisis resiliency. The current situation is quite extraordinary, but we believe that most of our customers will make it through to the other side. Ferry services are a part of critical infrastructure and will also survive,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen. Transition In The Offshore Industry The offshore market reached a historic low with negative oil prices in the spring of 2020 as demand cratered due to the declines in transport. The oil and gas industry is dominated by large publicly-traded corporations that react severely to market declines, which means that an investment backlog will need to be addressed as the market recuperates. But this sector will also need a year of transition before the turnaround takes root. Sales to smaller, more specialized segments have been impacted by the barriers to in-person sales. Segments impacted include sales to military customers (Defense segment) and sales of fire suits and other personal protective equipment (PPE segment). Digital meeting procedures, which were quickly implemented on very short notice, have proven to be a good alternative given the circumstances. Customers Buy The Full Package “With the uncertainty about what framework Covid-19 will offer us, we are off to a good start in 2021. The continued integration of the companies we have acquired in recent years, combined with an organizational adjustment, has resulted in a well-functioning foundation for future business development. The process has been complicated by the limitations on our ability to meet, but we have managed to make things work.” “The strong rationale underlying these acquisitions has been confirmed by our customers. When purchasing products for newbuilds and when entering into multi-year service agreements, customers increasingly place full-scope orders that span our entire product and service program,” Says Henrik Uhd Christensen. Acquiring Other Companies VIKING has dedicated resources during the pandemic to further developing its product range and digital infrastructure The service area is seeing increasing demand for fixed price agreements in the rental and service of liferafts, as well as in Life Boat Service (LBS) and Marine Fire Service (MFS). VIKING acquired the Norwegian lifeboat manufacturer Norsafe in the autumn of 2018, followed in 2019 by the purchase of Rotterdam-based Drew Marine FSR and its global service network for fire-fighting equipment. In addition to integration efforts, VIKING has dedicated resources during the pandemic to further developing its product range and digital infrastructure – and the company feels well-equipped for the future. Financial Resiliency In Uncertain Times VIKING expects business activity this year at levels similar to 2020 and with a higher profit. “We have done really well in the past year, also when compared to other players in our industry. We have improved our debtor portfolio, reduced inventories, and reduced costs without compromising on our high-quality standards. The financial year saw a record-high cash flow by far, which provides resilience in times like these,” says Henrik Uhd Christensen. The declining demand for maritime safety equipment has had unfortunate consequences for a significant number of employees at VIKING’s factories, especially in Asia.
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment is driving more investment into its marine fire service business. The inauguration of VIKING’s Foam Lab Odense, which specializes in the testing of a vessel’s reserves of firefighting foam, intensifies the company’s focus on marine fire service, a segment earmarked for significant growth in the coming years. Marine Firefighting Equipment “Our ambition is to cover all aspects of marine firefighting equipment, and our new state-of-the-art laboratory puts us on the global map in this segment, too.“ “Our class approvals comply with IMO regulations for testing all foam types, and we expect to receive DANAK accreditation in the course of 2021 as the ultimate stamp of approval for our work,” says Anders Nørgaard Lauridsen, head of VIKING’s activities in and around the Baltic region. Foam Test If a vessel’s foam is over three years old, it is mandatory for the vessel to undergo an annual foam test at a reputable laboratory. VIKING can offer a simple, user-friendly package solution, whereby shipowners purchase a test kit comprising a container for collecting a foam sample, instructions on how to take the sample on board, and a prepaid shipping label. Certification When the foam is received at the lab, it is subjected to a barrage of tests including, degree of expansion, drainage time, pH value, density, and contamination, to ensure, among other things, that the foam will effectively extinguish a fire. A service checklist and data are saved electronically via an iPad, and a certificate is issued to verify the completion of the test. This ensures traceability and enables monitoring of the condition of the foam. Experienced Specialist Foam samples are heat-treated for 24 hours before mixing them with saline solution There are two specialists at the foam lab, both able to perform a variety of tests, including low and high expansion tests, chemical resistance tests, small scale fire tests, and conductivity tests. When foam samples are received, they are heat-treated for 24 hours before being mixed with saline solution and subjected to a meticulous testing program, defined according to current IMO standards. “VIKING’s Marine Fire Service strategy is initially to handle more than 1,000 foam samples a year, which we’ll receive directly from global shipowners and our servicing stations,” says Anders Nørgaard Lauridsen. Heading Foam Lab Ove Andersen joined VIKING in mid-May to head Foam Lab Odense. He is a qualified marine engineer and has extensive experience, gained from 15 years as an operations manager in the district heating sector and subsequently from his three years at the DFL fire testing laboratory in Svendborg, Denmark. He is fully familiar with international test standards and quality management systems, including IMO1312, IMO670, other regulations for foam testing, and requirements for test equipment. Good Quality Foam “The thought of building something from scratch at VIKING appealed to me.” There are relatively few, yet important, standards for this segment, and from my background in the fire sector, I can say that it’s vital for vessels to have good quality foam on board – particularly foam that’s expandable and has adequate drainage time.” “The same applies here as to other VIKING products, human lives are at stake,” says Ove Andersen. Strong Position VIKING has hired Lone Friis, who holds a bachelor’s degree in laboratory, food and process technology, to assist at the foam lab. The new team of two has recently taken delivery of a sophisticated testing device, which optically reads drainage time and ensures a consistent test process. “We’re a global player with the support of a strong network, and our foam lab will strengthen our maritime customers’ perception of us as a competent partner and full-service supplier to the marine fire service segment, too,” says Anders Nørgaard Lauridsen. Agreement Concepts Marine fire service is often sourced as part of VIKING’s multi-annual service contract for maritime operators, the VIKING Shipowner Agreement (SOA), and is also offered to the oil and gas industry as part of our Offshore Service Agreement (OSA). Foam analysis is a natural, integral part of both of these agreement concepts.
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