Extinguishers - Expert Commentary

Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic
Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic

There have been challenges with completing fire safety maintenance and installation projects during the current Covid-19 crisis, most notably as a result of the difficulties for installers in safely accessing sites. Many construction projects halted for lockdown and this resulted in approximately 50% of the British installers we work with having to furlough staff. The challenges, however, are not just restricted to the UK. With Kentec panels sold in more than 90 countries across the world, we have seen varying challenges on a global scale. Throughout this crisis, fire safety continues to be paramount and as such key players, such as Kentec, are rightly considered essential businesses. We have continued manufacturing life safety systems throughout the current difficulties and it has been our mission to ensure that where new installations can take place, our panels are readily available to installers, as well as the expertise and technical support that goes with it for ongoing maintenance. Orders for spare parts have also, in fact, been consistently high during this period, as installers have been able to complete minor upgrades safely and end users have taken advantage of the period to do so. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines so that customers have not experienced any supply issues with any life safety systems or parts has been a major success. Critical Infrastructure We’ve personally seen an increase in sales for our industry-leading Sigma XT extinguishant panels during this crisis as it is widely used within critical infrastructure, in sectors such as telecommunications, data centres and healthcare. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines has been a major success During lockdown, with a vast proportion of the population working from home and relying on the internet to conduct their business and virtual meetings, it has been more important than ever that there is no loss in service in broadband and telephone services. This means that highly reliable and robust fire extinguishing systems are essential to protect essential workers and vital equipment – not only from the risk of fire, but also from the catastrophic damage that false alarms and the release of extinguishant could have, for example, on server room equipment. Understandably, this has resulted in considerable investment in fire systems in these sectors. Glasgow’s Louisa Jordan NHS Facility The recent fire safety installation at the Louisa Jordan NHS Facility Glasgow – located at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which provides more than 500 COVID-19 beds – is just one example of essential fire safety work being completed during lockdown. Vipond Fire Protection Ltd installed a total of seven Sigma XT gas suppression panels, and 32 detectors located within the electrical room that serves the 10,000m2 facility. The project was completed in what was an extremely tight seven-day turnaround, delivering proven reliability within a crucial healthcare facility. Kentec's Experience Operating Through Covid-19 We have learned that operating through this crisis and supporting installations that are going ahead is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration. For example, we’re supporting our distributors by shipping directly to their customers, when it is not safe or feasible to open their warehouses. Operating through this crisis is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration Our own workforce is also adapting to changing work patterns and demands. In the factory, at a practical level, this has meant implementing new shifts schedules starting from six o’clock in the morning to ten o’clock at night to ensure there are never too many people on site at one time. We have staggered arrival, leaving and break times to mitigate any risks involved at entrances, and we were lucky that space allowed us to make the canteen area bigger and increase the number of toilets from three to ten. We have moved work benches to ensure a safe distance between each employee, and where workflows make two-metre distancing impossible we have installed six- and eight-foot screens. Face masks have been provided to all staff and we are also trialling face shields for further comfort and protection. Our office staff have worked from home, and where going to the office has been necessary, they have similarly adhered to staggered arrival times. Internal communication has been essential and I’m immensely proud and extremely thankful for the positivity, proactivity and support that employees have shown through this process.     We have also adapted our Kentec Installation Partner (KIP) scheme to be fully remote to ensure training and support is there when it is needed for our installers. We are hosting webinars as another forum to solve installer queries remotely, and our new range of Taktis panels have highly advanced networking capabilities and a vast suite of communication tools that support remote monitoring. It is therefore critical that our installers fully understand how to help end users realise the benefits such panels can deliver and to ensure their installations are completed successfully. Looking Ahead To The New Normal Remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis We feel that remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis and the advanced communication capabilities of panels will be essential for both installers and end users alike. For installers it reduces the amount of time required on site, because they can access the system remotely to find out what equipment or parts they need to take with them. Similarly, for end users they can access systems remotely to check any alerts or queries off site if necessary. It remains to be seen how the rest of 2020 will pan out, but where projects have been necessarily put on hold, because of the essential nature of our industry we are confident that installers will be able to quickly and easily return to these projects when it is safe and feasible to do so. Communication, collaboration and support will continue to be essential in mitigating the challenges in our future ‘new normal.’

Fire Safety In Subsurface Environments
Fire Safety In Subsurface Environments

  Fire safety in road or rail tunnels is critical in avoiding potentially disastrous incidents Roger Wilton, Assistant Technical Manager of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), explains the challenges of preventing underground fires. Fires in tunnels tend to make headline news, largely because of the potential loss of life that such an incident presents. At the turn of the new millennium three catastrophic fires in as many years ensured that tunnel protection became a real focus on the fire safety agenda. In 1999 the Mont Blanc tunnel fire, probably the most well known of the three, resulted in 39 deaths when a Belgian transport truck caught fire, resulting in temperatures of 1,000°C and taking some five days to cool sufficiently for crews to enter the tunnel to begin three years of repairs and significant enhancements of the safety equipment and procedures. This was followed in November 2000 by the Austrian Kaprun funicular tunnel fire which killed some 155 people as they headed for the pistes in a popular ski area some 350 kilometres to the west of Vienna.  Then, in October 2001, the St Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland, the third longest road tunnel in the world, saw two lorries collide to create a fire that killed eleven people. Tunnel fires have, of course, occurred before and since but three such major incidents in such a short timeframe highlighted very clearly the dangers of tunnel fires and the need to recognise the specific challenges that tunnels present in terms of fire safety engineering. When construction work is undertaken in an underground location, the project plan for safety and in particular fire safety needs to address the extra risks associated with work in an area that, by definition, will have limited means of escape. The area will inevitably be one in which ventilation will be restricted. Lighting will also be a prime consideration. Risk Assessment A comprehensive and dynamic fire risk assessment document is essential for creating a successful fire safety strategy   Managing an emergency successfully is a matter of planning, having the correct equipment in place and employing an effective maintenance programme to ensure that the equipment works when required. The first essential is a risk assessment undertaken by a competent person. Particularly during the construction phase of a project, the risk assessment needs to be a dynamic working document that changes as the work progresses. The ownership and authorship of said document needs to be one of the project manager’s prime tasks. It should link to a project fire and safety strategy document that indicates how the risks identified are being managed and how the process for emergencies are to be handled. For example, if a risk from mechanical plant operating in the underground location is identified, the strategy may require that a mechanical plant containing volatile fuel or gas be fitted with an automatic fire suppression system and that during operation a specified number and type of portable fire extinguishers be available. The strategy document may also require that persons operating the equipment undertake specific training on the use of fire extinguishers. Fire risk and fire strategy are the tools of the trade for driving down financial loss and reducing project delay. A fire risk assessment follows a logical pattern Identify fire hazards Identify people particularly at risk Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risks Record, plan, instruct, inform and train Review the plan Specific fire risks in construction work underground are determined on each site. However, all such work will need to consider the following when producing a proposed fire strategy: Difficulties in providing means of escape. Enclosed environment ventilation issues. Access for emergency services.   Whilst tunnels are constructed, fire hazards must be identified and correct fire safety measures taken During a construction project the first requirement of the risk assessment is to identify the fire hazards. This may be one of the most challenging problems as identifying what will burn and is potential ignition risk is linked to use and the experience of the user. The hazards will change as the construction progresses. The risk will increase as initial construction gives way to first and second fix. The materials used in construction are often delivered in flammable packing to prevent transit damage. A management process for safe storage and for efficient removal of packaging materials is required. The need for fire extinguishers suitable for Class A fires (those involving solid materials, such as paper wood or textiles) is apparent. The construction programme can be part of the risk control programme. For example, the completion of enclosed stair routes before other work proceeds can help address safe escape routes. Early provision of a ventilation system will assist in control of the environment to allow escape. Control of the area by a ‘permit to work’ system and a temporary fire alarm system can assist in the risk reduction process. All of the above underlines my assertion that the risk assessment needs to be a dynamic working document that changes as the work progresses. The fire protection of an area can be enhanced by using heat or smoke detection. The services that a tunnel normally carries can form part of the detection. For example, fibre optic cables can form the sensor for a linear heat detection system that can provide precise location information. As with many fire situations, providing warning at the earliest possible point is the goal and identifying the source of a fire is a significant factor in this process. CCTV systems can also provide a smoke detection output as well as supplying video information. From construction to use Once the construction phase is complete the elements of the operation of a tunnel need to be built into the equation. The risk and the fire load - that is the amount of combustible material in the area or passing through - need to be recognised and the fire protection measures employed accordingly. The requirement for fire fighting systems and the location of portable fire extinguishers will depend on the use to which the structure will be put. If personnel are normally located within a given area of the tunnel, the system to alert them to potential danger needs careful consideration. The variety and versatility of voice and message sounders is an important factor here, with voice-based messaging increasingly being used to provide a precise instruction for an evacuation that is not available from a purely tone-based sounder. Rising to the challenge   Both Europe and the USA are conducting ongoing research into methods of more effectively reducing the threat of underground tunnel fires Tunnels provide their own unique fire safety challenges, whether during the construction phase or when the tunnel is actually in use. This article has only scratched the surface of what needs to be considered. Extensive research is ongoing, both in Europe and in the USA, to find methods of further reducing the threat of fire. This is not only in terms of fire prevention, testing the relative strengths and, importantly, the weaknesses of different fire detection technologies, but also in providing the means for safe evacuation to prevent the tragic loss of life which the three incidents highlighted at the outset demonstrate only too well. Roger Wilton - Assistant Technical Manager - Fire Industry Association (FIA)

Latest Rosenbauer International AG news

Volvo Penta Collaborates With Rosenbauer To Develop Electric Fire Truck Revolutionary Technology
Volvo Penta Collaborates With Rosenbauer To Develop Electric Fire Truck Revolutionary Technology

Volvo Penta has been collaborating with its longstanding customer Rosenbauer to develop an electric driveline for the platform and industrialized version of the company's Concept Fire Truck (CFT), known as "Revolutionary Technology" (RT). By walking away from conventional commercial vehicle concepts and developing an electric solution for the truck's driveline instead, Volvo Penta and Rosenbauer introduced a completely new vehicle architecture that looks set to revolutionize the fire service industry and bring benefits such as zero exhaust emissions and significantly reduced noise levels. With its electric driveline, the fire truck boasts excellent ergonomics, functionality, and safety, as well as high loading volumes, compact dimensions and one-of-a-kind agility. The RT is currently undergoing intensive testing and will soon pass its next major milestone, when it enters real-world customer testing later in 2020 with fire departments in Berlin, Amsterdam and Dubai. Collaboration with Rosenbauer "After many years of successful collaboration with Rosenbauer, we're proud to be pioneering electric drivelines and partnering with them on this revolutionary project," says Paul Jansson, Chief Project Manager at Volvo Penta. "Our close partnership and deep understanding of our customers' needs guided us in the development of the electric driveline for the new fire truck. Starting customer testing really brings home what the teams have managed to achieve together. This is our first industrial OEM partnership in the area of electromobility and it's a big step towards creating a new product platform of the future." Electric driveline delivers great performance The Volvo Penta-powered RT truck will help fire departments around the world reduce their fuel costs The new fire truck aims to provide an answer to global megatrends such as climate change, shifting demographics and urbanization - and their impact on fire departments' work. Firefighters responding to a call need a vehicle capable of high speed, rapid acceleration, hard braking and maneuverability. The RT's electric driveline, paired with independent suspension and a hydropneumatic chassis, delivers a high standard of safety and a great driving performance. The Volvo Penta-powered RT truck will help fire departments around the world reduce their fuel costs as well as improve safety and functionality. Each axle of the truck is powered by an electric motor and the energy storage system allows for an electricity-powered journey with ample time for operation at the rescue site. In addition, the new electrically powered truck has a backup diesel engine on board in case the journey or operation takes longer than expected. Electric fire truck "The teams at Volvo Penta and Rosenbauer have been working together closely to design a tailored solution that enables the electric fire truck to do its job in a more safe, effective and sustainable way than a conventional vehicle," says Dieter Siegel, CEO at Rosenbauer International. "Together, we have created the most revolutionary and progressive vehicle in the fire service industry. We have been collaborating with Volvo Penta for many years, they are the experts in this field and they truly understand our needs." Proven Volvo technology As part of the Volvo Group, Volvo Penta leveraged proven technology and competence from Volvo Trucks and Volvo Buses and adapted it to meet the performance requirements of a fire service application. An important job, since the electric driveline is the heart of the electric vehicle. The result is a proven Volvo Group technological solution that is tailored to meet Rosenbauer's needs. "At Volvo Penta, we see ourselves as partners, not suppliers to our OEM customers - so collaborating with Rosenbauer in this way is not unusual for us," concludes Björn Ingemanson, President of Volvo Penta. "We want to become the world leader in sustainable power solutions and help our customers to future-proof their businesses by meeting the increased demands for cleaner, quieter and more efficient power solutions. This project demonstrates an important step in this journey."

Rosenbauer To Exhibit Aerial Rescue Vehicles And Other Products At Retter Messe 2020
Rosenbauer To Exhibit Aerial Rescue Vehicles And Other Products At Retter Messe 2020

In 2020, Rosenbauer will be present at the Retter Messe in Wels, Austria's renowned trade fair for emergency services organizations, from October 29 to 31, 2020. Attendees can witness groundbreaking technologies and experience the innovations first-hand. Aerial rescue vehicles Rosenbauer will be presenting its key products and selected new products from the fields of vehicles, fire-fighting technology, equipment and digital solutions. Two Rosenbauer aerial rescue vehicles will be stationed on the open-air site at the event. In addition to the new products, there are some unique experiences that attendees should not miss! Fans of promotional items will get their money's worth at the exhibition stand and can shop in the fan shop at their whim. Attendees can immerse themselves in the world of Rosenbauer, along with experiencing and discovering the new products up close.

Rosenbauer Announces Release Of RFC POLY Extinguishing Systems With Integrated CAFS (Compressed Air Foam Systems)
Rosenbauer Announces Release Of RFC POLY Extinguishing Systems With Integrated CAFS (Compressed Air Foam Systems)

Rosenbauer has announced the release of a new series of RFC POLY extinguishing systems with integrated CAFS (Compressed Air Foam Systems) is presented. The extremely versatile fire extinguishing systems enable immediate and efficient extinguishing in the critical initial minutes of a fire. They are especially suited to combating spatially defined solid and liquid fires through the expansion of the extinguishing medium, as well as for the preventative protection of objects for which a fire poses a high degree of risk. RFC POLY extinguishing systems With the RFC POLY extinguishing systems, even with minimal extinguishing agent use, the maximum extinguishing effect and increased safety against back-burning are achieved and the risk of water damage is reduced. The devices are compact in design and easy to deploy. The mobile fire extinguishers, RFC POLY PORTEX SL10 and RFC POLY TROLLEY SL50, as well as the RFC POLY SKID modules, SL50-300, which are predominantly installed in vehicles, have been completely reworked, ergonomically and technically optimized and redesigned. Integrated with CAFS technology RFC POLY extinguishing systems are especially effective due to the CAFS technology RFC POLY extinguishing systems are especially effective due to the CAFS technology and they are perfectly suitable for initial assaults. They produce high-quality compressed air foam which, compared to conventional extinguishing foam, has a significantly finer and more homogeneous structure, as well as a higher energy content. Throwing distances of around 10 (RFC POLY PORTEX) or 16 meters (RFC POLY TROLLEY and RFC POLY SKID modules) are achieved, making firefighting safer due to the fact that it can be undertaken at a greater distance from the burning object. Compressed air foam is also more stable, penetrates deeper into the flammable material and adheres very well to smooth and vertical hot surfaces. Easy and reliable operation All systems in the RFC POLY series operate independently of external energy sources and are ready for use in two quick steps. By opening the compressed air valve, water and foam compound, which is contained in a separate cartridge and therefore lasts longer than that of other systems, are mixed to form a premix. By actuating the branch pipe, foaming is activated in a separate mixing chamber and extinguishing can start immediately. With the new devices, different foam agent qualities can now be produced and switching back and forth between wet and dry foam is now also possible during extinguishing. Switching is made easy by simply actuating a rotary knob, which is possible even when wearing gloves. Pressure relief for the water tank and foam agent cartridge after use is provided via a newly installed overflow line and the two tanks are filled via easily accessible quick-release couplings. Conventional Class A and Class B foaming agents with different viscosities and concentrations (0.5%, 1.0% and 3.0%) can be used in all RFC POLY extinguishing systems. The devices are therefore ideal for extinguishing both solid (fire class A) and liquid (fire class B) fires. RFC POLY PORTEX SL10 portable CAFS fire extinguisher RFC POLY PORTEX SL10 is a portable CAFS fire extinguisher with an extinguishing agent quantity of 10 liter (water) RFC POLY PORTEX SL10 is a portable CAFS fire extinguisher with an extinguishing agent quantity of 10 liter (water) and an operating time of approximately 60 seconds. The back carrier can now be removed and two newly designed ergonomic handles make handling easier. In addition, a trolley for transport to more distant locations is now available, and the extinguishing attachment to combat pyrotechnic fires has been improved. The RFC POLY TROLLEY SL 50 is a mobile fire extinguisher with an extinguishing agent quantity of 50 liter and an operating time of approx. 80 seconds (due to a higher application rate than that of the portable version). Its handling has also been made significantly easier by the addition of a new handle, and the extinguishing lance has also been revised to improve reach for extinguishing embers or hard-to-reach areas. RFC POLY SKID SL50-300 modules The new RFC POLY SKID SL50-300 modules combine mobile and stationary devices in a uniform design with standardized extinguishing agent containers. In addition, the control panel can now be removed for easy installation in vehicles. They are available with filling quantities of 50 to 300 liters of water, enabling operating times of up to 8 minutes. All of the new RFC POLY extinguishing systems are already available from Rosenbauer and their sales partners. The official launch was planned for this year's Interschutz, but will now take place for German-speaking territories from October 29th – October 31st, 2020 at Retter Messe 2020 in Wels, Austria.

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