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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 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)
The protection of subways with stationary firefighting systems is becoming much more urgent One Seven® introduces new ways of fighting fires in confined spaces. The catastrophic fires with numerous fatalities and high property damage in tunnels in recent years have clearly thrown up the necessity for more safety in such structures. The terrorist attacks in the underground train systems in London and Korea added a new dimension. The protection of the strongly frequented subways with stationary firefighting systems is becoming that much more urgent, especially since the fire brigade personnel is not able to quickly reach the core of the fire because of the huge amount of heat and the fast spreading of the fire. The long search for an effective firefighting method has been ended by special One Seven® tunnel firefighting system. The application areas are: An automatic firefighting system in the tunnel should fulfil several objectives Subway tunnels Subway stations Street tunnels Railway tunnels Mountain railway tunnels Supply tunnels An automatic firefighting system in the tunnel should fulfil several objectives. Firstly, it must allow the approach of the fire brigade on the "upstream" side. Here, at a distance of about 20 m (range of a hand-held hose) the conditions that prevail should be such that they allow the presence of the fire brigade personnel with suitable protective clothing. Secondly, it must effectively prevent the spread of the fire on the "downstream" side. Depending on the tunnel length, the tunnel is divided into any number of desired extinguishing zones. These consist of several sectors. One sector consists, for example, of 4 cross-pipes, which are fitted with the special patented multi-channel full spray nozzles. These sectors are then foam-sprayed intensely for short intervals. The potential of danger is increasing month after month through: Terror attacks Assassinations Higher traffic volume More transportation of dangerous goods Sabotage The specially developed tunnel firefighting systems that can be used in any tunnel can be deployed for the protection of: persons, tunnel structure, goods and merchandise and retention of the infrastructure.
One Seven provides measures to cut down risks of fires at petrochemical plants Sensitive fuel storage tanks are at maximum risk of catching fire, which would have catastrophic cosequences. Storage tanks are an important part of modern-day infrastructure. They supply fuels and raw materials to the industry and heating fuel and automobile fuel to the populace. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to take effective measures so that fires and explosions are avoided in this sensitive area. Generally, according to the corresponding specifications, stationary extinguishing systems and other firefighting systems have to be provided. But when fires break out and there is no immediate and effective Firefighting Tank, fires always quickly take on a catastrophic character. Depending on the construction of the tanks, specific requirements have to be implemented. The dimensions of today‘s tanks are becoming ever bigger. A volume of up to 90,000 tonnes is not a rarity any more. Therefore, the requirements for fire protection are becoming more and more complicated and extensive. The innovative compressed air foam extinguishing system One Seven® is able, owing to this extraordinary heat binding ability, to dampen such fires and even to extinguish them. The concept of the One Seven® tank firefighting systems is based on a purposeful firefighting of the interior of the tank. The application areas are: Fixed roof tanks Floating roof tanks Tank wagon filling/emptying stations Covered stadiums, etc.
The International Civil Aviation Organization has strict regulations for heliport safety One Seven® firefighting infrastructure meets stringent heliport safety requirements. For heliports, there are strict directives of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. In the framework of these regulations, there are also stringent requirements for the stationary firefighting equipment for heliports. All One Seven® systems fulfil the ICAO requirements! The One Seven® firefighting system meets all these requirements in the best possible manner and the heliport thus has optimum protection. The ICAO demands, for example: Two foam monitors with a rating of per min. 250 l water/foam concentrate mixture per minute, which can additionally also output 500 l water/foam concentrate mixture per minute. Additional hand-held pipe also with a volume flow of 250 l water/foam concentrate mixture per minute. Full power of the stationary foam extinguishing system over min. 10 minutes extinguishing time. Other convincing properties of the One Seven® firefighting system are: The stable, weather-independent ejection ranges of more than 30 m. The ease of starting with a central triggering button on the control console. Two One Seven® foam monitors that are remote-controlled from the control console. Electrically operable hose reel (hand hose) with 60 m very light, dimensionally stable One Seven® hose and One Seven® C spraying pipe. 120 l foam concentrate tank, which corresponds to 5 times the usage reserve.
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