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 Announces COVID-19 Preventive Measures Taken To Keep Business Safe And Operational
Chubb Announces COVID-19 Preventive Measures Taken To Keep Business Safe And Operational

These are unprecedented times. At Chubb, protecting the health, safety and well-being of the Company’s employees and serving the Company’s customers is top priority. As Chubb navigate the evolving circumstances surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Company are taking actions aligned with the latest information and global guidance to protect the Company’s employees, serve the Company’s customers and minimize the spread of the virus while continuing to provide essential products and services. Chubb have taken important precautionary measures spanning all areas of the Company’s business, both in the Company’s offices and the Company’s field operations, to protect the safety, health and well-being of the Company’s employees and to continue to serve the Company’s customers. Health and safety measures Chubb have implemented enhanced deep cleaning procedures across all facilities, modified processes to enable social distancing, and modified schedules to minimize employee gatherings, including remote working arrangements for those whose jobs allow. Chubb have also provided comprehensive health and safety information to employees at all of the Company’s locations, and will continue to work to identify additional ways to enhance the safety of the Company’s facilities. The Company’s fire and security services and alarm monitoring centers are vital to the protection of the public, industry and critical infrastructure. The Company’s exceptional workforce remains committed to meeting these essential needs for the Company’s customers and ensuring that they, too, can continue to provide their much-needed products and services The Company’s commitment remains steadfast to ensure the safety of the Company’s employees while delivering these essential solutions and services Chubb know customers rely on to keep the world healthy, safe, and comfortable.

Chubb Explains Safe Methods For Disposal Of Fire Extinguishers And Responsibility Of Businesses
Chubb Explains Safe Methods For Disposal Of Fire Extinguishers And Responsibility Of Businesses

The world is changing. Trends in urbanization and population growth require more sustainable solutions to move the world forward. From a business perspective, sustainability means that companies can do good for the planet whilst also doing good for employees, communities and customers. As a fire and security business, Chubb protects businesses globally, helping to make the world a safer place. However, the very tool that is used to counter the threat of fire also poses an environmental and physical threat of its own. A fire extinguisher is a pressurized product and classified as hazardous waste. This means care must be taken in its disposal to avoid causing harm to people and the environment. Safe disposal of fire extinguishers There have been a number of cases recorded in the media of accidents occurring after fire extinguishers are not properly disposed of. When it comes to fire extinguishers, not all disposal methods are made equal. In reality, there are significant differences in safety and environmental impact depending on the disposal method one chooses. While domestic disposal is provided by the state, businesses are required to dispose of fire extinguishers themselves For example, there was a very serious incident of a fire extinguisher being carelessly thrown into the back of a rubbish-collection lorry. This might sound like a routine and harmless incident. However, the pressure of the rubbish-collection truck caused the ‘disposed of’ fire extinguisher to explode. Luckily, no one was injured, but the risk to the waste-collection workers and to the people in the surrounding area was significant. This incident could have been totally avoided with the application of the correct fire extinguisher disposal method. Businesses’ responsibility in disposal While domestic disposal is provided by the state, businesses are required to dispose of their fire extinguishers themselves. While most businesses are responsible, there are some who resort to illegal fly tipping. Earlier, a pile of 400 extinguishers was found dumped in the UK’s beauty area of the Peak District, causing an environmental risk as well as a danger to life. Points to note when one is looking to dispose of one’s fire extinguisher. The rating and type of one’s fire extinguisher. The point in its life cycle is one’s fire extinguisher, and if it been used before. If one’s fire extinguisher still pressurized, one must look to release any excess pressure and leave one’s fire extinguisher to settle for a few days. One is not to throw out one’s fire extinguisher and not leave it out in the street. Domestic disposal is available through recycling centers. Commercial disposal is available through one’s fire and security service provider. Safe processing, recycling and disposal Chubb Fire & Security Extinguisher Recycling Unit, a dedicated facility offering a service for the safe processing, recycling and disposal of fire extinguishers across the UK, recycled 85,784 extinguishers. The recycled plastic can be re-used in road-surfacing products, children’s play areas, rail production for aggregates, or simply recycled to have a new life as another product. Chubb has worked closely with the Environment Agency to develop safe, efficient and environmentally friendly processes, ensuring that that its site maintains its ISO14001 certification. Every business has a legal responsibility to protect its people, buildings and assets from the hazards of fire. Failure to do so can result in prosecution, even if one have outsourced the disposal to a third party. Part of this responsibility means ensuring that all firefighting equipment including extinguishers is maintained and serviced properly by a competent person. As with any pressurized container, a fire extinguisher should be treated with respect. In fact, a fire extinguisher can become dangerous if it has been mistreated or abused, or if it has reached the end of its life cycle. One must ensure one’s business complies, and always recycle responsibly.

vfd