Browse CLEAN AGENT SYSTEMS

Clean Agent Systems - Expert Commentary

Fire Suppression Fluids And Gases, The Future Of Marine Fire Safety
Fire Suppression Fluids And Gases, The Future Of Marine Fire Safety

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.

How Targeted Suppression Stops Fires At The Source
How Targeted Suppression Stops Fires At The Source

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.

Latest Chubb Fire & Security news

Chubb Becomes The UK Distributor Of SmartCell Wireless Fire Detection Platform By EMS
Chubb Becomes The UK Distributor Of SmartCell Wireless Fire Detection Platform By EMS

Chubb has been appointed the exclusive UK distributor, installer and service provider of SmartCell, a complete wireless fire detection platform by EMS. The platform provides customers with smaller commercial sites and properties complete control of their fire safety systems’ performance and strategy. Chubb and EMS are part of Carrier, a global provider of innovative heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration, fire, security and building automation technologies. Fire safety solution EMS’ new product range, SmartCell, comprises all elements required in a fire safety solution, including an EN-certified control panel, detectors, manual call point, sounder (with visual alarm), a dual input/output device and contact transmitter. Designed with the ability to expand as required, the system can accommodate up to 32 wireless fire and a variety of information devices. A notable feature of SmartCell, and an innovation in the marketplace, is its built-in communications capability, which not only enables remote diagnostics (to identity and remedy potential issues), but also allows all event notifications to be sent to mobile devices via a dedicated Chubb mobile app. This enables customers to have total visibility of their fire system performance, anytime and anywhere. Intelligent cloud-Based communications Chubb has limited exclusive access to the SmartCell system for four months It is also Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) ready – enabling potential fire alarms to be remotely monitored by a third party, as well as having the ability not only to monitor fire but also floods and potential issues with heating/cooling systems. Making maximum use of EMS’ technology, a market-leader in wireless and hybrid fire detection systems, Chubb has limited exclusive access to the SmartCell system for four months. “With integrated signaling and intelligent cloud-based communications and notifications, the system offers users the ultimate convenience in accessing their fire safety information,” said Richard Drew, FD&A technical and product manager, Chubb. “Compact and with an aesthetically pleasing design, it is quick and simple to install. Its flexibility makes it a user-friendly, commercially-attractive solution for a wide variety of customers and applications.” Whether as a business owner looking for a complete new system, retrofitting or expanding one's existing system, SmartCell offers an easy to install, flexible solution.

Chubb Fire & Security Weighs In On Managing And Reducing False Alarms
Chubb Fire & Security Weighs In On Managing And Reducing False Alarms

The proliferation of false fire alarms places a huge burden on the Fire & Rescue Service. Understanding false fire alarm causes and taking steps to prevent them can help reduce false dispatches. The threat of fire is known to all; there is no need to overstate the devastating impact of fire on people, wildlife, businesses and buildings. Only recently, Sydney and its surrounding areas have been devastated by raging bushfires, while in the UK, there was a 14% increase of fire incidents attended in 2018/19 compared with the previous year, which was linked to the hot, dry summer in 2018. Fire safety is a critical issue, especially in enclosed spaces, and it is a key component of building safety. A key aspect of fire safety is the prevention of fire in the first place. fire and rescue services The Fire Industry Association estimates that false alarms cost the UK over £1bn per year Combined with monitoring and alarms systems, these can prevent the ignition of an uncontrolled fire. While fire monitoring and alarm systems have an irreplaceable role, false alarms can have an enormous impact on the entire fire safety process. According to official government statistics, in the financial year 2018/19 (1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019), England’s fire and rescue services attended 229,805 fire false alarms. That’s an average of 629 false calls a day. The Fire Industry Association estimates that false alarms cost the UK over £1bn per year. People might think the majority of these cannot be prevented, with rogue actors or “malicious calls” being the main cause, however, 65% of these were due to apparatus issues and largely avoidable. False fire alarms have economic impacts and can affect a number of other areas. malicious false alarms The burden on the fire brigade can be enormous and the cost to business high, and there is the potential for other issues, such as limited assistance in the case of real fires if fire services are busy responding to false alarms. Another consequence of false alarms is related to the safety of occupants, who may not react optimally when the system responds to a real fire if they have experienced a number of false alarms. In short, there is a moral and social responsibility for all parties to help reduce the number of false alarms where possible. False fire alarms fall within a few broad categories: unwanted alarms caused by fumes from cooking, steam, smoking, dust, insects, aerosol spray, etc.; equipment false alarms; malicious false alarms arising from a malicious use of a call point, and false alarms with good intent where someone suspects there is a real fire. ongoing risk management A Fire Risk Assessment should expose any risk of false alarms, allowing you to take preventative measures In the case of nuisance alarms, such as burnt toast, there are a number of actions and preventative measures predominantly predicated on risk assessment and ongoing risk management that can help. A well conducted Fire Risk Assessment should expose any risk of false alarms, allowing you to take preventative measures. As part of ongoing risk management, it is essential that service and maintenance companies are advised if there are any changes within a protected building so consideration can be made on the effect to the alarm system. Another common cause of false alarms is human error. faulty equipment Training and awareness on basic items, such as closing the windows if there is a bonfire outside, not boiling a kettle under a detector head and following the rules by not smoking in non-smoking areas, can help reduce the number of unwanted alarms. Furthermore, employees should be trained on how to operate and respond to a fire warning system. Perhaps the most easily prevented cause of false alarms is faulty equipment. Even the best installed equipment will deteriorate without regular service and maintenance. Fire prevention systems must be overseen by professional specialist service and maintenance agreements that preserve the system’s performance, thus ensuring the fire systems work when they are needed the most – in the event of a fire. history of malicious false alarms We have seen the risks that false alarms pose to both the safety of individuals and the resources Malicious false alarms, by their very nature, are harder to prevent. They tend to occur in premises where the public are in high numbers, such as shopping centers, leisure facilities, places of entertainment, public car parks, sports centers and of course, in universities and schools. Mainly, it is the malicious use of a manual call point that is involved. Unfortunately, little can be done to deter those seeking to cause havoc, but in areas with a history of malicious false alarms, increased security can help minimize the risk. Preventative measures, such as CCTV cameras, remote video response and security personnel, can all help deter the misuse of fire alarms. false alarms in buildings rise Thus, we have seen the risks that false alarms pose to both the safety of individuals and the resources of the Fire & Rescue Service. One of the greatest risks false alarms pose is complacency. As the number of false alarms in buildings rise, employees, managers and even emergency responders are less and less responsive to them, as they naturally expect them to be false. It becomes far too easy to respond without urgency, or even simply ignore them. By taking a number of steps and preventative measures, this burden can be eased, enabling public and private resources to be used more effectively to address actual threats.

What Trends Are Likely to Change the Fire Market in 2020?
What Trends Are Likely to Change the Fire Market in 2020?

Welcome to our Expert Panel Roundtable, a new feature of TheBigRedGuide.com. We will be asking timely questions about the fire market and seeking out experts in the field to provide responses. Our goal is to promote a useful exchange of information on a variety of topics and to create a forum for discussion of important issues facing the fire service and market. For our first question, we look to the year ahead and ask our panelists: What trends are likely to change the fire market in 2020?

vfd