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INDUSTRIAL

FIRE JOURNAL F O R P R O F E S S I O N A L S P R OT E C T I N G L I V E S , A S S E T S A N D I N F R A S T R U C T U R E W O R L D W I D E Third quarter 2017 issue no.109

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Fire in the cloud Pioneering the smart fire system

Testing times Lastfire Group assesses new fire-fighting foam formulations


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Why advertise in Fire & Rescue? • To ensure your products/services reach key decision-makers within the active firefighting and ARFF industry • In order to promote products/services to senior fire service and rescue personnel, including chief fire officers, assistant chief fire officers, training officers and ARFF and SAR leaders worldwide.

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TOPPER CONTENTS A division of Hemming Group Ltd, 32, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SS, England Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7973 6694

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10 Vehicles Record-breaking mutual-aid exercise in Port Newark; Zeeland Refinery takes delivery of fire truck with retractable roof monitor; the latest Panthers make landing.

E-mail: m.spillane@hgluk.com Website: www.hemmingfire.com

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Managing Director Bill Butler

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36 PPE Trends in firefighters' helmets, boots and gloves; major 'green' breakthrough in protective fabrics.

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lndustrial Fire Journal, ISSN 0964 - 9719 (USPS 021-884), is published quarterly March, May, September, December, by Hemming lnformation Services, a division of Hemming Group Ltd, 8 The Old Yarn Mills, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3RQ. UK. The US annual subscription price is $80. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by agent named Worldnet Shipping lnc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to lndustrial Fire Journal, Worldnet Shipping lnc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA Subscription records are maintained at Hemming lnformation Services, a division of Hemming Group Ltd, 32 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SS, UK. Air Business Ltd is acting as our mailing agent.

Design & Artwork by Graphic Examples, Sherborne. Printed in England by Latimer Trend & Co Ltd, Plymouth, UK.

40 Grenfell Tower fire Developments and reactions. 44 Suppression Protecting Poland's second tallest tower; news from the IWMA; why water mist can now be considered for high-rise buildings.

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL are not necessarily those of Hemming Information Services. IFJ is in no way responsible or legally liable for any statements, picture captions, reports or technical anomalies made by authors in their commissioned articles.

48 Detection The science behind optical flame detectors; Salzburg Festival undergoes safety upgrade; video fire detection gets ISO standard. 53 Fire pump systems Introducing the smart fire system of the future.

© 2017 All Rights Reserved Industrial Fire Journal (ISSN 0964-9719)

57 Passive fire protection The challenges of achieving fire safety with LNG.

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32 Hazmat and decontamination New protocol devised for decontaminating fire trucks. 34 Training Human factors and ARFF.

Annual Subscription: Europe £40.00 or €60 (incl. p&p); rest of world £50.00 or US$80.00 (incl. p&p). Send all subscriptions, changes of address and correspondence to address above.

14 Storage tank fires Lastfire Group reveals findings from recent foam tests in MOL Refinery; learning zone – protection for storage tanks. 20 Fire-fighting foam Reflections from a 30-year veteran of the foam industry; the challenges of PFAS contamination; fluorinated chemicals discussed in major environmental conference.

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News, events & comment

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THIRD QUARTER 2017 < INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL <

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NEWS

Comment The Grenfell Tower tragedy in London happened ten days after the opening ceremony of the US National Fire Protection Association's annual conference in Boston. During this ceremony the association president Jim Pauley awarded the 2017 James M Shannon Advocacy Medal to a politician from Wales. The reasons were quite compelling. Ann Jones had headed a legislative proposal that gave Wales the authority to ensure that all new homes could be fitted with automatic fire sprinklers. The sprinkler building regulations came into effect on 1 January 2016, making Wales the first country in the UK to pass such a requirement. As noted by Richard Coates in his observations on the Grenfell Tower fire (p42), the US is way ahead of the UK in terms of understanding the role of sprinklers in life safety, and the NFPA’s appreciation of Jones’ work was a clear example of just that. In this issue of Industrial Fire Journal you will find other examples of initiatives where the US leads the world in fire safety and fire-related technology. Fireconnect is part of a project in the US that aims to make the fixed fire system ‘smart’, a concept that all of us are familiar with, but one which is only just making its way into the fire world. In the next few years we could see NFPA fire pump controllers being required to have the capability for remote supervision and monitoring, which may not seem like rocket science but which will bring significant benefits before, during and after an incident.

Jose Maria Sanchez de Muniain, Editor

reach for chemicals guidance The UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum has published new guidance documents for the new EU chemicals legislation REACH 2018 The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals legislation controls the manufacture, import and use of chemicals within the European Union and European Economic Area. Its main purpose is to ensure that industry is responsible for the safe use of chemicals throughout the supply chain; the body responsible for the administration of this legislation is the European Chemicals Agency. The last deadline to register low-volume chemicals is 31 May 2018 and ECHA is recommending that companies start preparations immediately. The deadline applies to substances which are manufactured or imported into Europe annually in volumes between 1 and 100 tonnes. If substances falling within the 1-100 tonne per annum range are not registered by the 2018 deadline, their supply could cease. UKCSF’s updated guidance has been compiled to assist companies to submit dossiers to ECHA. It is also aimed at downstream users who need to assess the potential for disruption of their supply chains if substances which they depend on are not registered. ECHA estimates that the likely number of registration dossiers for the 2018 deadline will be greater than the combined number of dossiers submitted for the corresponding 2010 and 2013 registration deadlines for higher tonnage substances.

to Plug and protect The US Department of Homeland Security has revealed an innovative solution to protect critical infrastructure from flooding. The solution takes the form of a giant inflatable plug that according to the DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate will seal off subway tunnels and stop water from flowing throughout the subway system into stations and other subway lines. The Resilient Tunnel Plug was demonstrated at a recent event in Frederica, Delaware, by manufacturer ILC Dover, the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and West Virginia University. The uninflated plug integrates seamlessly into a subway tunnel without impeding the flow of normal train traffic, but can be quickly inflated to stop water from rushing through the tunnel and remain inflated to withstand the incredible pressure of restrained floodwaters. The plug was tested at ILC Dover’s facilities on a full-size replica subway tunnel. “We tested several configurations of the plug during the program to eventually identify the design that worked best in the tunnel environment,” said David Cadogan, ILC Dover’s director of engineering and product development. “The most challenging aspects of the design, aside from having it withstand all of that pressure, was getting the plug to deploy and then seal the tunnel in a completely repeatable fashion. Then, finding the right design to allow it fit into a very small container mounted in the tunnel.” In final tests the RTP held back water for a full 21 days. “Spinoff technologies based on the plug, include covers for subway stairwells and fabric flood walls that can be deployed in an instant during an emergency. More than 20 stairwell covers have already been installed in lower Manhattan as part of the New York City subway system's Super Storm Sandy recovery efforts," said John Fortune, program manager in S&T's Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, “With the RTP, we are capable of controlling the vastness of danger, damage and even inconvenience to the public due to flooding events.” A time-lapse video of the tunnel plug inflating is available at: https://www.dhs.gov/time-lapsevideo-sts-tunnel-plug-inflating.

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Back to school in style

An insurance company has taken training in loss-prevention to a new level with state-ofthe-art learning centre. FM Global has opened a new learning facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, where employees and customers can explore property-loss prevention and insurance-related training through specially designed classrooms. The 2,500m2, US$15-million FM Global Learning Centre more than doubles the size of the company’s Norwood training facilities to a total of 3,715m2. The entire facility incorporates active learning classrooms, technology-packed breakout rooms, a collaborative space, interactive whiteboards, surface computing, and 12 Simzone experiential areas, including a warehouse and data centre designed to replicate clients’ properties. Multiple property risk simulations can be created on site and students can learn about common risks such as fire, ignitable liquid, natural hazards, equipment malfunction and electrical breakdown. There are also labs dealing with roof and wall construction as well as hazards associated with combustible dust and flammable gases. In addition, clients, students and subjectmatter experts will be able to video conference with the FM Global Learning Centre from anywhere in the world and share real-life lessons.

✜ INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL ✜ third quarter 2017 Read our e-magazine at www.hemmingfire.com


NEWS

composites attract A new range of glass-fibre reinforced composite hand-held fire-fighting nozzles has been launched by Leader. Also available in aluminium, the range comprises a selectable flow nozzle as well as three automatic nozzles that include low-pressure or high-pressure versions. The composite material, which is widely used in the automotive and aerospace industries, has a number of advantages over metal alloys. It is lighter and of equal mechanical strength; has better resistance to corrosions, chemicals and high temperatures; and has better electrical and thermal insulation. According to the manufacturer the technical innovation in the new nozzles also provides greater quality in the spray or jet.

Getting to grips with fire basics

An updated version of the Elementary Fire Engineering Handbook has been published by the Institution of Fire Engineers. The primary purpose of the book is to assist those studying for the IFE’s vocational qualifications for firefighters and crew managers. According to the IFE it is also useful for those entering job roles in the sector and those undertaking training programmes such as apprenticeships and induction training. The fourth edition of the popular book, now in colour, includes best current practice in fire operations and fire safety practice. It has been developed and re-written by international past president of the IFE George Almond (below, right), who ended his 40-year career in the fire and rescue service as the Chief Fire Officer of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. The new version of the book replaces the existing edition and will form the core content for the IFE’s Level 2 and Level 3 Certificate examinations from March 2018. The handbook is available from the IFE’s online shop.

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NEWS

Scandinavian expansion The Wagner Group has acquired a majority holding in Norwegian company Hypoxic Technologies based in Verdal near Trondheim. Both companies specialise in active fire prevention through the development of oxygen reduction systems. According to an official communication, Hypoxic Technologies will begin to distribute Wagner’s Oxyreduct technology throughout Scandinavia, gradually expanding the local product portfolio to encompass Wagner’s entire range of active fire prevention, fire detection and fire extinguishing systems. The first jointly installed fire prevention systems have been put into operation, including one at the University of Oslo; another installation protecting the National Museum of Norway in Oslo is currently underway.

new facility to accelerate pfp coatings development

A research and development centre focussed solely on passive fire protection coatings is being created by Hempel in Spain. The new facility will employ 35 experienced technicians and scientists and will be located in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda near Barcelona, just five kilometres from Hempel's existing Spanish R&D facility and Spanish head office in Polinyà. Hempel COO Lars Petersson said that the new facility would significantly increase its fire testing capabilities and enable the company to expand and accelerate its PFP coatings development. The company expects the expansion to result in further PFP coatings for hydrocarbon fires commonly encountered in the oil and gas industry. When applied to structural steel in large buildings and industrial oil and gas installations, the coatings expand to form an insulating layer of carbon char when exposed to high temperatures. This enables the steel to maintain its load-bearing capacity for up to four hours longer during a fire, giving people valuable time to escape a structure. The new facility is due to open towards the end of 2018.

nfpa project for high rises The US National Fire Protection Association is developing a fire-risk assessment tool designed to assist local authorities globally with fire safety in their communities. The project, which builds on previous NFPA work, is linked to growing concerns regarding fire risks associated with combustible wall insulation components and cladding in high-rise buildings. The risk assessment tool will help prioritise fire mitigation, incorporating a methodology that identifies key variables such as wall materials and building fire protection systems. Characterised in terms of risk or mitigation potential, the variables will then be incorported into an engineering-based risk model. The project will be conducted by a global engineering team and overseen by an advisory panel of international stakeholders. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

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Fine for steel maker

A steel company has been fined GB£930,000 (US$1.2 million) after the release of toxic and flammable substances from its site in Scunthorpe, England. A large quantity of Benzole was released on 17 June 2011 at an open site glass in Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe Steel Works, around 120km east of Manchester. The release resulted in a large flammable vapour cloud that exposed five workers to the risk of serious injury of death had the cloud ignited. Two of the workers received medical treatment after suffering coughing and breathing difficulties. The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found Tata Steel had failed to take the appropriate safety measures to prevent the release of the toxic and flammable chemical. It was found the company had failed to address previously identified risks and that the incident could have been entirely avoided if the company had addressed these concerns. The site in Scunthorpe is a top tier Control of Major Accidents Hazards site due to the large amounts of highly flammable and toxic chemicals stored on the site. Tata Steel UK Limited of Millbank, London pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974; on 11 August it was fined GB£930,000 (US$1.2 million) and ordered to pay costs of GB£70,000 (US$90,000).

all-hazards approach to light

A remote-area lighting system has been launched that is certified for use in all high-hazard environments. The new 9455Z0 is the only remote-area lighting system to hold certifications for European ATEX Zone 0 (Cat. 1), IECEx ia and North American CI, D1, claims Peli. The safety certifications of the 7.3kg portable RALS make it suitable for working in the oil and gas sectors as well as in first response, pharmaceutical and other high-hazard industries. Its LEDs radiate 1,600 lumens on a high setting and 800 in low, the latter extending the run time up to 10 hours. Powered by a rechargeable battery, the system offers a 125º wide beam spread. It also features a telescoping mast that extends to 80cm, a 360º articulating light array and a wide handle for gloved grip and transport. With a durable, water-resistant (IP54) polymer construction, the 9455Z0 RALS is available in safety yellow colour.

✜ INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL ✜ third quarter 2017 Read our e-magazine at www.hemmingfire.com


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EVENTS 2017

Emergency Services Show, NEC, Birmingham, UK, 20-21 September

Visitors to the ESS will hear UK fire services sharing their experience of attending industrial accidents. Free to attend for all those working in fire prevention and rescue, including industrial brigades and overseas visitors, ESS enables visitors to see and handle the latest fire-fighting equipment. In the Lessons Learnt Seminar Theatre, UK emergency services and partner agencies will share their experiences of responding to real incidents such as the Didcot Power Station building collapse in Oxfordshire, which resulted in four fatalities and a major recovery operation. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will also lead a session on the Wirral gas explosion in New Ferry, which left 34 wounded and destroyed several buildings. Other seminars covering PPE, research and development and the health and well-being of emergency services personnel are also planned. In the networking hub of the show, the Collaboration Zone, over 80 voluntary groups, charities and NGOs such as search and rescue organisations will be sharing details of the support they offer. For more information visit www.emergencyuk.com.

service providers. Keynote speakers include Fay Purvis, past chair NFPA11 Foam Systems Committee, USA; Nigel Holmes, principal advisor incident management, Central Queensland; Niall Ramsden, Lastfire coordinator; Mark Scanlon, HSE team manager, Energy Institute; Rod Rutledge, national process safety & regulatory advisor, Caltex Australia Petroleum; Ian Ross, partner, global remediation, Arcadis; Graeme Day, fire service regulation & oversight manager, Heathrow; Brian McKinnley, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. For more information contact the Lastfire coordinator, info@lastfire. org or Zoltan Meszaros of FER, zmeszaros@fer.hu.

17th International Water Mist Conference, Barceló Aran Mantegna Hotel, Rome, Italy, 25-26 October

Emergency Management for Airports Summit, London, 10-13 October How to prepare for and avoid emergencies at airports will be the focus of the event, in addition to providing support for affected passengers and airport stakeholders. Best practice and case studies will be shared by speakers from a number of international airports and associated organisations including Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, Brussels Airport, Munich Airport, Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, ICAO, Cathay Pacific, Airpol, Amsterdam Airport, Dubai Airport, Frankfurt Airport, Copenhagen Airport, Malta International Airport and others. Case study presentations will cover planning for, responding to and recovering from emergencies associated with bomb threats, mass shooting, marauding attacks, ARFF, and hangar and terminal fires. The event is suitable for airport emergency planners, airport fire and police, local fire and police authorities, airline emergency planners, terminal/airside operations and airport emergency medical services. For more information visit http://www.equip-global.com/ emergency-management-for-airports-summit-2017-uk.

Firefighting Foam Summit, Aquincum Hotel, Budapest, Hungary, 17-18 October Jointly hosted and supported by Lastfire, FER, MOL and Arcadis, the event will review the current situation related to selection, use and management of fire-fighting foam. With increasing importance placed on the potential environmental effects of fire-fighting foam as highlighted by new legislation in some countries, including the recently published EU based restrictions on PFOA, it is critical to determine long-term policies for selection, use and management of fire-fighting agents in the future. The organisers have brought together a group of international specialists in the various fields of holistic foam management assurance including regulators, end users, industry institutions and

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Over 100 delegates from more than 20 countries are expected at the annual conference of the International Water Mist Association, the first association of its kind dedicated exclusively to water-mist fire-fighting and related technologies. The conference webpage for the IWMC is now online. The first day of the conference will focus on practical applications of water mist, including case studies covering historical buildings, turbines, hangars, shopping centres and railway vehicles. The second day of the conference will concentrate on research and testing, as well as the presentation of the thesis of this year’s Young Talent Award winner, James White of FM Global. Presentations will be delivered in English with a simultaneous translation into Italian provided via headsets. For more information visit www.iwma.net.

Emergency Management for Oil and Gas Summit, Singapore, 21-24 November Attendees will discover best practice for the management of emergencies to minimise social, financial and environmental impacts as well as hear proven strategies for improving communication and coordination with internal/external agencies. Featured speakers include Kairul-Zaman Mohamed Noh, head of crisis management, Petroliam Nasional Berhad; Marcel Dembele, head of major risks management and emergency response, Total; Ukrit Chansoda, safety officer, PTT LNG, Avinash Palekar, senior manager fire services, Reliance Industries; and Muhammad As Suhaimi Bin Mustafa, fire safety manager, Sembcorp Industries. In addition to the presentations, delegates will have the opportunity to attend a number of workshops covering topics such as business continuity planning on common emergencies and enhancing preparedness to prevent Tier 3 emergencies. For more information visit: http://www.equip-global.com/ emergency-management-for-oil-and-gas.

< INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL < third quarter 2017 Read our e-magazine at www.hemmingfire.com

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VEHICLES

In the flow A mutual-aid exercise in the Port of New York and New Jersey has broken a new Guinness world record with the help of an Inundator Super Pumper demo unit.

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orking together with a number of pumps that included the FDNY’s Fire Boat 343, 15 area fire departments and other agencies collectively produced a record-breaking total water flow of 185,485lpm (49,000gpm) over an estimated 152m. The annual Big Flow drill offers area fire departments and industrial emergency responders that are part of the Neptune Task Force the opportunity to train together. The consortium, which takes its name from the National Foam Neptune submersible pumping system that delivers nearly 20,000lpm (5,000gpm) of water, includes industrial organisations such as Phillips 66 and International Matrix Tank Terminals. The new world record broken in June was aided in no small way by Ferrara’s Super Pumper demo unit, which flowed around 37,800lpm (10,000gpm) during the exercise – over a fifth of the total water flow. The Ferrara Inundator Super Pumper set the Guinness world record for the highest pumping capacity fire engine in 2015 by reaching a UL-verified flow rate of 20,789lpm (5,492gpm) while drafting water from a nearby source. Other equipment used at Port Newark’s Berth 25 included an industrial pumper from Phillip 66’s Borger refinery, which was flowing around 15,000lpm (4,000gpm) of water from its rear monitors, and which was fed by a US Fire Pump (3,000gpm) submersible pump. “It's an honour to participate in such an important drill alongside these emergency responders. We couldn't be prouder of the performance of our equipment,” said Brad Williamson, industrial sales for Ferrara. “We will walk away from this event learning more about the needs are of our first responders in a catastrophic event and for that we will be a stronger more innovative company. It’s an added bonus that we now also hold a world record.” The mutual aid exercise, which this year involved over 100 emergency responders, is made possible by a partnership between the New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and local industry in and around the New York Harbour. “Having a strong working relationship between industry and municipal fire departments is critical to effective emergency response,” commented Chief Fred Fretz, spokesperson for the New Jersey UASI. The UASI Grant Programme was introduced in 2003 by the US Department of Homeland Security and it provides financial assistance to address the equipment, training, planning, and exercise needs of large urban areas. It also provides assistance in building an enhanced and sustainable capacity to prevent, protect, respond, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism as well as planning for catastrophic events.

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VEHICLES

Reaching high The latest Ziegler industrial fire truck received by Zeeland Refinery in the southwest of the Netherlands comes with features not specified in the refinery’s previous trucks.

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istinct features of the new vehicle delivered in June include a roof monitor that lies inside the superstructure of the truck during travel as well as a high-reach extendable turret – a first for Zeeland Refinery. The body of the new industrial truck is built on a Volvo chassis and has been equipped with a 2,000l extinguishing water tank, a 5,000l foam tank and the Ziegler FPN 10-10,000 centrifugal fire pump. The fire truck design was specified by Zeeland Refinery based on site hazards that include LPG, gasoline, kerosene and diesel. When both Alco monitors are operating simultaneously, total flow is 12,000lpm, with 8,000lpm through the roof monitor and 4,000lpm via the HRET monitor. When used individually the roof monitor can flow at a slightly greater volume. The roof monitor is mounted on a lifting device that automatically raises it up out of the vehicle structure by approximately 450mm and enables the monitor to operate on a 320° arc. The HRET has a 25m reach and a 360° range of movement. The foam proportioner, model Z-PF, is controlled by software that regulates the foam concentrate’s pressure so that it is consistently above that of the water coming from the water pump, as monitored by flow meters at the pressure side of the water pump. Based on this measured flow rate, the software actuates special regulating valves within the foam circuit to inject the correct amount of

foam concentrate into the water. According to a Ziegler representative, the combination of this constant pressure together with the foam injection system results in the optimum mix of water and foam. The system enables several foam mix percentages to be used simultaneously over the full range of water flow. In addition, the foam system can be tested without mixing the foam, with the concentrate flowing back into the foam tank. The design has proved popular with Zeeland Refinery, who already owns one of these vehicles, albeit without the HRET in the latest offering. The only other specification difference is that the previous vehicle had a 5,000l water tank as opposed to 2,000l, as well as 250kg of powder which could be injected into the monitors and hose reels. According to Ziegler, the main challenge regarding this particular specification was constructing the complete package in the correct build sequence. “The mix between having the HRET within the superstructure when stored in transport position; all the piping within the superstructure; and making sure the vehicle would stay within a maximum length of 10m was the main challenge," concluded a representative from the company.

Panther prepares for landing Paris, Dubai and Vienna are to experience the power of the first set of new Panther 8x8s.

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he flagship aircraft rescue and fire-fighting vehicle will deliver better driving and extinguishing power, higher occupant safety and more comfort than its predecessor, says its manufacturer Rosenbauer. The 52-t Panther 8x8 has a top speed of over 135kph and carries 19,000l of extinguishing agent comprising 16,800l water, 2,200l foam compound and 500kg powder or CO2. Its two 700hp Euro V engines enable it to accelerate from 0 to 80 kph in less than 25 seconds – even faster with the Euro VI-engine option. A number of improvements have been made to the latest model such as a reworked drive with a quicker switch between pump-and-roll and drive modes. To provide better stability the weight and axle load distribution have been modified and the centre of gravity has been lowered, says

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Rosenbauer. The new Panther features a new pump that provides 10,000l of water per minute at 10 bar, with a range of monitor options. These include the new RM80 roof turret with an output rate of up to 9,000lph and a throw of 100m for water and 90m for foam; as well as the new RM35 with up to 4,750lph and throw of 85m (water) and 76m (foam). For fires near ground level the RM35 can be mounted on a swivelling bumper boom turret installed in the underride protection. For firefighting from an elevated position the vehicle can be equipped with a Stinger boom with a 20m reach. The first vehicles of the new generation will be delivered to Paris-Charlesde-Gaulle, Dubai International Airport and Vienna-Schwechat.

< INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL < third quarter 2017 Read our e-magazine at www.hemmingfire.com


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storage tanks

In the line of fire Developing a snapshot of the capabilities of new formulations of foam concentrate is just one of the objectives of Lastfire Group’s ambitious research project, writes Niall Ramsden.

S The author Lastfire co-ordinator Dr Niall Ramsden has extensive knowledge of design, application and assurance of foam systems and equipment. Prior to becoming an independent specialist he worked for foam manufacturing and system design companies in a variety of engineering, research, technical and management roles. He has been a full voting member of NFPA11 committee for over 25 years and the EN13565 Part 2 committee for more than 15 years.

Assessing the performance of new foam formulations at the MOL Refinery in Hungary.

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maller-scale testing by Lastfire of the new generation of foams has revealed some fascinating results that are to form the basis for larger-scale testing using a 10m-high storage tank in October. With the increasing importance placed on the potential environmental effects of fire-fighting foam, as highlighted by new legislation in some countries, including the recently published EU-based restrictions on PFOA, it is critical to determine long-term policies for selection and use of agents in the future. While foam-type selection; optimisation of its use; and the balancing of environmental effects with efficient extinguishing are issues that face all responders to flammable liquid fires, they are particularly of interest to those in the hydrocarbon storage and processing industry. Lastfire, a group of international oil companies developing best practice guidance in all aspects of storage-tank fire-hazard management, is at the forefront of research in this field, assisting its members in developing policies for the long-term future without jeopardising risk reduction. This is achieved by fire testing at critical application rates; developing best practice guidance in foam management; and constantly monitoring latest regulatory requirements. After some preliminary work to develop a protocol, described in an earlier edition (IFJ issue 104, Q4 2016), Phase 1 of an extensive testing programme is now complete, with a next step planned for October when larger-scale tests will be carried out. These will involve a forceful application of a number of foams to an 11m-diameter, 10m-high storage tank. Ultimately, any new technique or extinguishing agent has to

be tested in a critical fashion with appropriate safety margins to allow for issues that might occur ‘on the day’. In an ideal world, it would be possible to carry out large-scale tests (20m+ diameter) with different foams with different application rates and different application techniques. In the real world, however, there are always budgetary constraints where the actual risk has to justify the expenditure. In order to maximise return from available funds, Lastfire has developed a test protocol that includes several objectives. That there was not a representative small-scale test simulating the particular conditions of a storage tank fire was recognised by the Lastfire Group some time ago, following on from work carried out at Mobil, prior to becoming part of Exxon Mobil. Consequently, an appropriate test protocol was developed through joint work with fellow members, end users and foam suppliers including Angus Fire, Chemguard, Ansul, Williams Fire and Hazard Control and Solberg. Such a protocol has always been regarded by members as a batch-acceptance test – not a generic approval test, and one to be included in a detailed performance-based procurement specification. This test was originally validated through comparison with incident experience, foam quality measurements, full-scale application equipment and proven foam concentrates. While no small-scale test is ever perfect, it has served Lastfire members and others very well as part of their detailed procurement specifications. With new foams – whether C6 or fluorine-free – different performance characteristics have been encountered, highlighting the need to revalidate the test against larger-scale tests to assess ongoing applicability. Issues could include, for example, foam flow distance, as a new formulation foam that can flow over a small pan fire might not be able to do so over a greater distance. As well as revalidation of the Lastfire test protocol, another objective of the present project is to develop a snapshot of current capability of the new formulations of concentrates. In particular, to assess if they can be considered absolute ‘drop-in’ replacements with equivalent performance capability, to the extent that there is no requirement for modification of proportioning systems, application equipment, application rates or application technique. One of the reasons this is necessary is because the majority of the currently available data has been developed by suppliers; in addition, it may not be based on end-user requirements, particularly when related

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to specific applications such as tank fires. Lastfire, working with suppliers, aims to have tank fire-related performance established under independent direction. Another objective of the test protocol is the validation of the currently accepted strategy of using a ‘sectionby-section’ approach to large bund fires. Although this approach is described in NFPA11 (Standard for low-, medium-, and high-expansion foam) and other industry guidance, and has been widely adopted by professional fire responders such as Lastfire supporter Rotterdam Europoort Unified Fire Department, in reality there is very little critical test work or incident experience to validate it. Other objectives are to use the current research as an opportunity to take fire radiation measurements for rectangular fires at different orientations, and determine if proprietary programs for fire modelling are suitable for this purpose. At the end of the project, the work will form the basis of a Lastfire preferred-vendor list of companies that recognise the group’s requirements, and who commit to working with the group to gain knowledge and improve tank fire-fighting efficiency.

Test protocols used in Phase 1 Over 60 fire tests were carried out in total, something made possible by the professionalism of the emergency response team at the MOL Refinery in Hungary, as well as the cooperation and hard work of representatives of the foam companies that were taking part. The tests were designed to provide a comprehensive snapshot not just of fire performance but also of physical properties and environmental effects, amongst other requirements. Eight foams were tested; two so-called C8 foams as reference; two C6 AFFF ARs; and four fluorine-free foams. All foams were ‘anonymous’, except to key Lastfire personnel. Lastfire protocol testing was carried out on a 4.5m2 round pan with baffles, using both fresh and salt water on heptane and with four different application techniques; semi-aspirating monitor nozzle; aspirating monitor nozzle; system nozzle; and medium expansion nozzle. Application rates were typically in the order of 60-70% of normal design rates. A ‘small bund’ test, again with a 4.5m2 square pan with obstructions, was carried out using the same Lastfire nozzles plus an additional CAFS nozzle, using gasoline as the fuel and fresh water. A large bund test using an 18m2 square pan with obstructions and gasoline as the fuel was also performed with different nozzles and CAFS nozzles, using fresh water. Lower application rates were used initially and the nozzles moved when control had been gained in order to simulate the sectionby-section application technique. Subsequently similar

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application rates to those used for the smaller tests were also tried with some nozzles. Proportioning accuracy tests were executed using both pumped and venture-based induction systems, in addition to an ad-hoc test to assess compatibility with dry powder application. The physical properties of the foam concentrates are currently being measured and, in the future, environmental testing will take place, which will result in a highly comprehensive database. Following the full analysis of these results, the next phase of testing will start; this will be forceful application to an 11m full-surface fire at 10m elevation using ground level equipment and proprietary application nozzles. This is planned to take place at the end of October at GESIP in France. The full test results will only be available to Lastfire members and those foam supply companies involved in the work. Although detailed conclusions will not be developed until the results of the larger scale tests have been compared with the previously carried out, smaller-scale work, some high-level conclusions can be drawn from the work to date, which follow next.

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STORAGE TANKS

lastfire - the story so far

The eight foams tested consisted of two C8 reference foams, two C6 AFFF ARs and four fluorine-free foams.

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Some C6 formulations have similar, if not better, performance than some of the earlier proven C8 formulations, but it should be noted that the C8 types tested were relatively old samples. In addition, there have been significant developments in the performance of fluorine-free foams and the next phase of testing will show whether or not they can yet be used for forceful application to tank fires using conventional application techniques. Furthermore, more attention should undoubtedly be paid to optimising the combination of foam type, application rate, and application method. The testing of specific combinations is critical to effective performance but, unfortunately, recognised system-design standards do not emphasise this issue and generally merely provide application rates for ‘listed’ foams. It has also been found that the application of CAFS is highly ‘forgiving’ as regards different foam performance capabilities. As testing with all foams as CAFS application resulted in improved performance, it is hoped that it will be possible to test CAFS application in the next larger-scale phase. It was also noted that the general correlation between performance on standard Lastfire tests and the other tests using other fuels and different pan configurations is good. While the widely accepted section-by-section approach to application on large bunds can be successful, it was found that responders need to be fully aware of potential issues that may arise in relation to edge/obstruction fires and to the topping up of foam blankets. As regards concerns related to premix stability of foams, this was found not to be a serious issue unless the mixture was present in pipework for extended periods. However, the application of dry chemical needs to be considered as part of overall performance testing and procurement, as it was shown that some formulations may have poor compatibility. Furthermore, physical properties must also be taken into account during any procurement process as the changeover to any new foam may require changes to equipment, especially to proportioning systems. To conclude, the work that has been – and is being – carried out by Lastfire is undoubtedly the most comprehensive independently managed series of tests to date evaluating the performance of the new generation of foams for storage-tank application – and the results are applicable to other scenarios. The completion of the next phase will reveal a comprehensive snapshot of current capability and, most importantly, an assessment of whether or not a true ‘drop-in’ replacement is available for the very special conditions of a storage tank fire. Any organisation interested in the work of Lastfire or the deliverables from the project should contact Dr Niall Ramsden via niall.ramsden@Lastfire.org

The Lastfire Group has already developed a position paper addressing subjects that cover response strategies; foam standards/approvals; concentrate performance testing; foam types and properties; environmental constraints/pending legislation; environmental data requirements; effect on water treatment and separators; foam concentrate developments; testing of foam systems and equipment; changing foam; foam usage preplanning; and contaminated fire water treatment. This ‘living’ document is regularly updated as the situation develops, for instance, due to new restrictions on PFOA in Europe and the results from the fire testing that is currently being carried out. It outlines the commitment by Lastfire members to develop a ‘cradle-to-grave’ approach to foam-stock management, including the review of tank fire emergency procedures that historically have focussed on foam requirements and application, so that they include measures for containment and run-off management and post-incident plans to clean up and remediate as necessary. The commitments to a cradle-to-grave approach is reflected in Lastfire Group’s foam assurance guidance and assessment methodology, which provide comprehensive notes in every aspect of management and usage of foam stocks, from assessment of needs through to final disposal, via procurement specification, site concentrate assurance, system and foam design and testing, site logistics and training, amongst others. Interestingly, the guidance is accompanied by a scoring system that has been trialled at a Lastfire member’s refining facility, where it identified some omissions in overall foam management and other areas for improvement – even though this particular facility had already taken a highly proactive approach to the issue. The scoring section, based on a traffic-light system, helps identify areas where current measures are satisfactory (green), need possible review and adjustment (yellow) or require implementation (red). It was devised with input from members with fire response and environmental expertise, and is an invaluable tool for self-audit purposes, as well as for developing ongoing policies. Whilst primarily aimed at storage tank-related hazards, the vast majority of the guidance information and the accompanying questionnaire is relevant to all foam users, especially those in the aviation industry. This Assurance Process document is also updated regularly as additional information becomes available, something that is particularly true in the areas of foam analysis, environmental data and disposal/ remediation techniques. Author’s note The Lastfire Group is grateful to all the companies who have supported this exercise, particularly the suppliers involved with the earlier work or Phase 1 of the main programme: Angus Fire, UK; Auxquimia, Spain; BioEx, France; Solberg, Norway; Dr Sthamer-Hamburg, Germany; Tyco, USA. Mention should also be made of ACAF Systems who have provided expertise and equipment related to CAFS application. The proportioning accuracy tests were managed under the supervision of Firedos. The test protocol was developed by the executive panel working with the Lastfire co-ordinator, ENRG Consultants, and the companies mentioned above.

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Learning zone: fire protection for storage tanks The technologies available for storage tanks are as diverse as the design and growing size of the assets they are protecting, writes Martin Hough.

T

Martin Hough is international sales support manager at Angus Fire

Angus Fire Titan portable monitor throwing foam onto the top of a 20m-high tank from a distance of 30m. Portable monitors offer entry level fire-fighting for protecting hydrocarbon and other risks that require finished foam applied from a safe distance.

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aking into account changes in environmental legislation, larger and larger storage tanks, the increasing use of geodesic tank roofs with internal floating roofs, and new foams reaching the market every month, arguably there has never been a tougher time for fire professionals to make equipment decisions. Fires in storage tanks have always been a challenge to firefighters and tank operators, as tank farms are often located in tight spaces and store various flammable liquids. As the risks are diverse and complex, there is no single technique to extinguish tank fires. Fuel storage tanks are categorised by construction type and each requires a different approach to its fire protection requirements depending on their construction. Fixed-roof tanks are used to store hydrocarbon or polar solvents fuels with vapour pressures close to atmospheric. They are usually designed to have a weak seam between the shell and the roof to allow the roof to blow off in the event of a major catastrophe. Fixed-roof storage tanks are protected using foam top-pouring systems designed to apply foam gently through the tank wall onto the burning surface of the fuel. Gentle application is preferred to maximise the efficiency of the finished foam. Top pourers that feature a butterfly nozzle that can throw the foam back onto the tank wall, ensuring gentle application, are especially effective. Open-top floating roof tanks are widely used to store large quantities of petroleum products such as crude oil and condensate. They are designed as open-top cylindrical steel shells fitted with internal floating roofs that rise and fall as the liquid level in the tank changes. 90% of fires in open floating roof tanks start in the seal between the floating roof and the tank wall, known as the rim seal. An effective method to control a fire in the rim seal area is to apply foam from pourers fixed to the tank wall. Rimseal pourers with a low profile minimise the effect of wind and deliver a well formed foam into the rim seal area, irrespective of whether the roof is at its highest or lowest level. Nowadays open-top floating roof tanks can be over 100m in diameter. Industry practice says foam will typically flow a maximum of 30m, creating a dead spot that foam will not reach, at the centre of tanks that are over 60m in diameter. In

this situation, full surface nozzles featuring fixed jets with no moving parts can deliver a long throw of up to 50m, which will reach the dead spot at the centre of these large tanks. In addition full surface pourers can apply foam at the correct application rate to the entire tank surface, ensuring that should a full surface fire occur, sufficient foam can be applied to achieve control and extinction. Geodesic dome tanks are essentially floating roof tanks fitted with a domed lightweight roof that extends across the complete roof area. Fitting open floating roof tanks with geodesic roofs has become a popular way of keeping the weather out and aiding vapour recovery to maximise efficiency. The fire protection of geodesic dome tanks is a challenge, as the height restriction often prevents the use of rim seal pourers or top pourers. Despite having a fixed roof, the risk area for fire-fighting remains the seal between the floating roof and the tank wall. Therefore, a slim ‘through the roof’ profile pourer is required. Angus Fire has recently designed a geodesic pourer that is supported by its pipework and is efficient in fighting rim seal fires within geodesic tanks. In addition to selecting the correct equipment solution it is equally important to choose the right foam concentrate to maximise the effectiveness of the foam system. There has never been a tougher time for fire professionals to make decisions about which type of foam they should use. With the changes in environmental legislation, larger and larger storage tanks, the increasing use of geodesic tank roofs with internal floating roofs and new foams reaching the market every month, it is not surprising that making the correct choices can be a daunting task. Professional firefighters often ask which foam they should be using. Regardless of what the manufacturers promote, the right choice should always be based on the user’s risk profile. Risk isn’t just the fire, risk needs to include how much emphasis is placed on knock-down, burn back resistance, post-fire security and the environment (air, soil and water). It is also important to select a foam that has been approved in conjunction with the equipment that will deliver it. Approvals such as Underwriters Laboratories approve both foam concentrates and equipment to ensure that they perform correctly together.

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FOAM

A life in foam T Gary McDowall, managing director, 3F

The petrochemical industry has the best likelihood of capturing fire-water through bunds and interceptors.

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he big wheel can turn slowly in this industry before new ideas are adopted so, for those entering the industry for the first time, my advice is to be patient, be innovative and above all, don’t be deterred from being creative. After just a few days of my new job as works engineer at John Kerr Limited on 27 April 1987, I felt I was in a place where I could make a difference, and I can only hope I have. I also trust that the next generation will leave their fingerprint and make a contribution to what is in my view a highly dynamic and constantly evolving industry. In my field of fire-fighting chemicals, ideas for improving performance have been prolific and have inevitably outpaced regulation and legislation. My time in this industry has been largely focussed on foam concentrates, which is borne out by my career path through 12 years with Croda, who purchased John Kerr, and then with my own companies since 1998. When I joined John Kerr all those years ago the UK market was dominated with protein foams which included basic protein, fluoro-proteins and film-forming fluoro-proteins and their alcohol-resistant sister product FFFP-AR. Those of us who are old enough will remember the pungent smell of protein foam produced from ‘hoof and horn’, mostly imported from India and China, and I should not forget the sticking tank vent valves and congealed residue on pumps and equipment. Due to the organic nature of the protein, these types of foams had a shorter shelf life than that of synthetic foams such as AFFF and AFFF-AR. And so the UK and its foam

After 30 years in the fire-fighting foam industry Gary McDowall reflects on the ups and downs of his journey and highlights some of the choices that lay ahead for foam users.

producing industry was dragged by its shirt collar into the new world order, following in the footsteps of our American cousins in adopting a more pragmatic philosophy of manufacturing a foam that was much easier to produce and which had a performance history dating back to the 1960s. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the advantages were clear: easier, cleaner production, and high performance with none of the up-front environmental impact of shipping bulky protein raw materials half way around the world. In addition, lower energy-related costs and fewer waste materials than produced from the autoclave or caustic methods of extracting the vital protein base material. As this transition to the new order took place, very few people knew of the environmental legacy being slowly accumulated, and which would one day have to be addressed. Fluorinated chemistry has brought so many advantages to our everyday lives, such as Teflon-coated cooking pans that clean easily, clothing and carpets that are stain and dirt resistant, coated paper to package food: all products for our convenience. But at what cost? In my early 30s I was now production manager manufacturing foam with a company focusing on delivering products that could outperform, or at the very least equal, our competitors. The highest fire-fighting performance was always the aim, and we lived in a world where C8 fluoro-surfactants were a prerequisite to achieving this goal. However, warning signs began to appear that other types of fluorinated chemistry were having a detrimental impact on the environment, leading to the depletion of the ozone layer over the Antarctic. The Vienna Convention in 1985 was the first step to deal with this challenge and subsequently led to the Montreal Protocol, signed in 1997 by 197 counties of the United Nations, to manage the phasing out of CFC gases. The use of CFCs, which had been mainly used for refrigeration and air conditioning, was identified as being the central cause of this catastrophic depletion of the ozone layer. There were doubters of the causes even then; thankfully political consensus won the day and was applauded as one of history’s most momentous agreements and acts of political diplomacy. Included in this family of highly efficient and supremely effective gases was Halon, a CFC used in fire-fighting systems

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tOPPer

and portable fire extinguishers. As an industry we have learnt to live without CFC performance and have developed replacements that are inevitably less effective but accepted as a solution for performance vs the continued depletion of the ozone. In fact, there is evidence that the ozone layer is repairing and will be back to pre-1985 levels by 2070 confirming the science was correct. In short, 20 years on and we are still fighting fires without CFCs. It was a price that had to be paid for the benefit of mankind. I was fortunate enough in my last four years with a large UK chemical business to travel the world promoting and selling foam concentrates and dry powder. This experience was invaluable and ultimately led me to form my first company, ABC MacIntosh, at the end of 1998. I was convinced from my encounters overseas that there was an appetite around the world to simply do things better and, if I was to make any difference at all, whatever I did had to be very different from what was currently on offer. Anyone with a business will tell you that the early years are hard, and my company’s early years were no different. However, the interest in what we were trying to achieve was evident. In 2001 we were manufacturing the beginnings of our own foam range and our strategy for environmentally safer foams had finally begun. The first confidence boost came in 2002 when 3M announced their withdrawal from manufacturing fluoro-surfactants due to the environmental impact of C8 chemistry leading to PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), a growing pollution concern around the world. Finally, I had confirmation that our strategy to develop fluoro-free foams was the right decision. I founded 3FFF in 2005 to consolidate R&D and our company’s foam formulations under the ‘3F’ brand. Twelve years later, 3F is now the only company in the world to have developed fluoro-free combined with solvent-free technology; a unique, unrivalled environmental profile for fire-fighting foam concentrates. I have purposely made a comparison between the problems of CFCs in the 80s and 90s with the issues we face this decade, and in the years ahead, with fluorosurfactants used in film-forming foams. Some will claim that the link between the two environmental issues is highly spurious, but they are wrong. Chemistry is a pure science and the fluorination of molecules and their chains creates extremely robust and stable structures that our environment and its microorganisms cannot break down. This leads to persistence and bio-accumulation. It is science, not ‘rocket science’. Nature has a way of reminding humans they are moving in the wrong direction, and it is up to mankind to fix it before it is too late. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, regulators and legislators by necessity work at a very different turn of speed and it takes time to catch up with the latest scientific studies and findings. Europe’s ban of PFOS was announced in 2009, seven years after 3M had stopped manufacturing it. Now we expect European restrictions on PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) as well as PFHxS (perfluorohexane sulfonate), to below 1ppm imposed by 2020. In 2016 the state of Queensland in Australia legislated what is essentially a ban on PFOS and PFOA-containing foams, primarily AFFF and AFFF-AR, making their use prohibitively difficult in practice. The other five states of Australia are following with similar legislation. The level of contamination at user sites and its effects on local communities, following decades of operational use, is now coming to light. The cost of clean-up in Australia will run into hundreds of millions of AUS$ and those paying the price will be the end users. In the US, a recent settlement of US$671 million to 3,500 people following PFOS contamination of the Ohio River is another example. This type of class action is likely to be regarded as the established norm in the years ahead. I have made myself sound like an environmentalist but I am not. I believe I am a realist with a pragmatic view, one who sees this industry moving forward with a balanced approach. Too much has been made by lobby groups of the requirement of the petrochemical industry to retain film-forming foams and, I have to say, I don’t totally disagree. Whilst this application of foam is certainly dispersive, this is an industry with the best likelihood of capturing fire-water through primary

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FOaM

Regulators will focus on end users unable to capture foam during application or post fire.

and secondary bunds and interceptors. They are some of the safest industrial sites in the world and in practice are more likely to store foam concentrate rather than use it. Large refinery fires are statistically rare events and, if this industry feels they must use fluoro-surfactants in the foams they purchase, they are the most likely candidates to have the capacity to deal with the post-fire issues. There will be a hefty cost to destroy this material as a concentrate or as firewater, but this cost will be factored into the end user’s perceived risk of using a fluoro-free foam. Many of the oil companies are already using fluorine-free foams on site for small fires and training. It is for companies like mine to persuade the industry that fluorine-free foams have a bigger role to play in the future and that ‘engineering out’ any performance concerns is the most sustainable way forward.

The target for the regulators will definitely focus on end users that are unable to capture foam during application or post fire, such as airports, fire and rescue services, training facilities, portable fire extinguishers and fixed systems. We have seen this approach in Australia and I have every reason to believe that this will be echoed in Europe. The introduction of TOPA (Total Oxidisable Precursor Assay) by Houtz & Sedlak in 2012 as a means of revealing the total expected impact of AFFF fire-fighting foams on the environment from extremely persistent, highly fluorinated end-products – ‘dark matter’ – is a significant step in the right direction. Regulators are now pressing end users to produce TOPA data via recognised laboratories to enable a more detailed appraisal of environmental risk. How will fire-fighting foams develop during the next 30 years? The one thing I can be certain of is that fluoro-chemicals will remain under the scrutiny of regulators and that research into the continued impact on human and planet life will be ongoing. If this industry wants to be serious about its responsibilities for sustainable manufacturing and continued use of its products, it will need to invest more in R&D and on smart young people who want to make a difference. I admit to being very lucky working with a terrific group of people over a long period of time, and will always be grateful for their continued support. My company’s vision is less visionary and more of a history lesson. Did I make the right choices for the business 18 years ago? Yes, absolutely. Our fluoro-free, solvent-free foams provide the performance for hydrocarbon and polar solvent fuels without forcing our environment to survive on the edge. It’s time to start living without reliance on fluoro chemicals when and where we can.

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Proportional response Site investigation, human health/ ecological risk assessments and remediation are some of the steps that should be taken by proactive sites potentially contaminated by PFAS, reports Lotte Debell from a technical seminar in London.

A

Dr Peter Nadebaum is an international expert on approaches for assessing and managing PFAS contamination and has been an accredited environmental auditor in Australia for 25 years. He is a founding member of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination and Remediation, and is working with the organisation to develop national guidance on the assessment and management of PFAS in Australia, and has been involved with major PFAS-contaminated sites. He was also the founder and inaugural president of the Australasian Land and Groundwater Association

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s some of the major concentration sources for PFAS contamination are associated with fire fighting and the use of aqueous film-forming foams, this is an issue for public and private fire and rescue services across the world. It has been underlined by cases in Australia and the US, where not just the contamination but also the alleged slow response and/or lack of transparency by the agencies or authorities involved has led to a proliferation of class actions that could run on for years. The emotive nature of contamination when it spreads off-site and affects neighbouring communities is just one of the challenges faced by the actors in these unfolding dramas, and is a warning to others of the need to be proactive about potential contamination. Other complications include uncertainties and debate over this class of man-made chemicals, from how many there are and how best to test for them to understanding their effects on human health. What are the limits for tolerable daily intake? How to reconcile the need to protect human health and the environment with the commercial realities of dealing with contamination? If the costs of treating contaminated sites are too high because ‘acceptable’ levels are too low to achieve, what happens then? The question of how to determine a proportional response in each case is critical to achieving an acceptable outcome. This was the central question addressed by Dr Nadebaum of GHD at a technical seminar in London in July. Nadebaum began with ‘the PFAS problem’. This is a new group of chemicals that consists of many different compounds about which so much is still unknown. They are classed as Persistent Organic Pollutants that are bioaccumulative, toxic and soluble. It is these properties that fuel fear among communities and those affected by occupational exposure. Moreover, criteria are still being established, and the criteria that do exist for the most common PFAS, such as PFOS and PFOA, vary widely. “In some jurisdictions these are very low, especially for water,’ said Nadebaum, ‘sometimes below the level of detection. This makes it difficult to establish the level of precaution that needs to be taken.” They are also everywhere – widely found in the environment and people, and present in all manner of

commercial and industrial goods and processes. The widespread use of AFFF foams at facilities with Class B fire protection response capabilities means PFAS are commonly found at airports, major hazard facilities, and fire service sites, but they are also found in sewage biosolids, effluent and landfill sites and present in soil, concrete, ground and surface water and sediments. To top it off, treatment is difficult, and the scarcity of criteria for acceptance and/or disposal makes management difficult – how to know what is safe, what can be managed, and what doesn’t need management? How to decide on the appropriate, responsible approach? “An evidence-based, risk-based approach is required to assess and respond to contamination in the environment,” argued Nadebaum. However, he warned against adopting very conservative criteria out of excessive precaution as this could hinder remediation efforts. The bioaccumulative nature of some PFAS can lead to high accumulations in organisms, leading to concerns over possible effects. Fears around the toxicity of PFAS chemicals and their effects, combined with their solubility and ability to migrate long distances, leads regulatory agencies to take a precautionary approach when aiming for ‘no adverse effect’. The problem does not stop there. The sheer number of compounds – possibly up to 3,000 – makes the question ‘what are we dealing with?’ difficult to answer. Then there’s the problem of precursors – other fluorinated constituents that appear in newer foam formulations that can change via oxidation into carboxylates (such as PFOA). This could further complicate the feasibility of compliance, which is already difficult because PFAS are resistant to degradation and destruction is difficult. “It’s probable that in-situ destruction of PFOS source areas is not feasible,” said Nadebaum. Given the above, where to start investigating and dealing with site contamination? Initially this is fairly straightforward said Nadebaum – by conducting a site history and establish a preliminary conceptual site model. “This is the key to understanding the whole issue of PFAS. I would expect this to identify the main areas of residual contamination, the source areas, and potential for transport.”

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FOAM

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It is on this point – the potential for migration off site – that issues arise of not only how to investigate it but how far that investigation should extend. Most importantly, however, if there is a potential for off-site migration “the site owner must act immediately to minimise migration. This will stand you in good stead if there are off-site problems. Act responsibly and proactively – not acting on known contamination is being used as a basis for litigation,” he said. When it comes to possible off-site impacts, should one estimate or measure? “This is the fundamental question,” said Nadebaum. “If you think you have a problem, go out and measure it. Some Australian regulatory agencies advocate this approach because adverse effects can occur at very low concentrations, therefore it is better to measure actual impacts than predict them.” There are difficulties, however. This approach may involve sampling water, fish and other organisms in the food chain as well as groundwater. If this is used for gardening, it could lead to sampling garden produce, chickens, and eggs, etc. Therefore it is necessary to know how to interpret and respond to test results and the concentrations that would signal the need for further action, such as a prohibition on fishing or the use of groundwater. “These are extreme measures,” said Nadebaum. “If you start shutting things down it has significant implications.” There may be reluctance to sample off site because of the uncertainty of interpretation and the community concern and media attention that can result, but inaction could lead to problems later, especially if earlier investigations recommended such work. While the toxic effects on humans are not yet fully understood for either acute or chronic exposure, the bioaccumulative properties of PFOS and its long half-life in humans (four to eight years) have led to the setting of maximum tolerable intake levels by international agencies. TDI levels for PFOS in drinking water in the UK and the US are lower than for mercury. A human health risk assessment will involve testing soils, drinking water – possibly also ground and surface water – and accumulation in fish, if relevant. Since exposure to PFAS usually occurs through drinking water/groundwater and the eating of fish, animals and plants, exposure through soil ingestion is a lesser

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concern. However, when other routes of exposure are considered, such as garden produce, this can drive down allowable concentrations in soil. Allowable concentrations will also vary by land use. For example, there are stricter criteria for residential than for industrial land. “The higher permissible levels on an industrial site are assuming that there is no uptake from plant consumption, therefore PFOS soil contamination on a fire training site is unlikely to pose a health risk. The problem occurs if contamination migrates off site or the land is converted to residential use.” When it comes to drinking water, the TDI will assume a certain percentage comes through water consumption, and internationally it is not uncommon to assign 10% of TDI to water and assume the rest occurs through other routes. This is a precautionary assumption as other routes of exposure may account for much less than 90%. When considering ground and surface water, it’s not just a case of measuring PFAS levels but also considering possible uses. For example, irrigation could lead to accumulation in soil and in plant crops and livestock. Water may also be used for cooking but not for eating, but variations in use between households complicates the assessment. Assessing bioaccumulation in fish, if relevant, is even less clear cut. While PFOS traces in water can result in unacceptable concentrations in fish for human consumption, indicative screening values are based on international estimates of bioaccumulation and assume a certain consumption of fish per person. Is consuming fish a risk? Dr Nadebaum suggests testing fish directly and taking into account actual consumption. “It may also be helpful to estimate dilution to show that concentrations in water will be very low. Sometimes if we look at the dilution, we may be able to say there is no problem.” Another difficult question is whether to conduct blood sampling as part of the health risk assessment. This issue is fraught with controversy. Affected communities may want blood tests, but because the results are difficult to interpret, health departments are often against it. And PFOS will always be found in people’s blood, in varying concentrations, because of exposure from a number of sources. It is difficult to relate results to a particular source. If the health risk assessment is complex, the ecological risk assessment (ERA) is even more complicated. Different countries have adopted different approaches but the international consensus is that PFAS do pose an ecological risk. PFOS was declared a Persistent Organic Pollutant in 2010 under the Stockholm Convention, and various toxicological effects have been reported in laboratory tests for both PFOS and PFOA, including developmental and physiological effects in freshwater and marine creatures as well as land animals. For example, multigenerational fish exposure has shown a reduction in reproductive potential. An ERA will typically require a preliminary and more detailed assessment. The preliminary assessment is based on comparisons with screening values and involves: problem identification; receptor identification; exposure assessment; risk characterisation; and a toxicity assessment. If this indicates a concern, it can lead to a more detailed ERA. This is much more detailed, involving, for example, field studies, species identification, studies of ingestion and absorption, migration modelling, etc. Nadebaum advised that it is important to identify the key receptors rather than all receptors and added that toxicity data for local species is often not available for PFAS. When conducting the ERA, some screening levels may

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FOAM

have been set by regulatory agencies and others may not, and those that exist will be dependent on the policy positions of agencies. For example, aquatic screening values may take into account protection of species or assumed levels of bioaccumulation. Both aquatic and soil values will take into account direct and indirect (uptake via the food chain) toxicity that can push down acceptable levels. And not all values may be relevant in every case. “Choosing screening values is not simple,” said Nadebaum. “Many values exist that may or may not be relevant to the particular exposure scenario. An experienced ecotoxicologist is required.” While certain elements of an ERA for PFAS sites are well established and straightforward, methodologies for assessing exposure – particularly toxicity and risk characterisation – are developing fields. This means it is very difficult to assess the ecological impact on a site with any degree of certainty. Finally, site management and remediation is another area of evolving knowledge, technology, and guidance. The overall objectives of such operations are to comply with regulatory requirements and achieve an acceptable level of risk, but Nadebaum acknowledged that achieving ‘no adverse effects’ might not always be possible. “We need to adopt a practical, responsible approach and draw on the principles of sustainable remediation.” As an example, he explained how 1mg of PFOS in one litre of soil/aquifer/water would require a reduction of 50 times this value to meet acceptable soil criteria, but a much greater reduction to achieve acceptable fresh surface water criteria – possibly as much as five million times, depending on the criteria. “How do you remediate a site if such a huge reduction

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is required?” These low values have significant implications, with the costs for PFOS destruction increasing as target concentrations are reduced. Assuming a thermal treatment is used, the cost to reduce soil concentration from 0.04 mg/kg to 0.01 mg/kg can be as high as AUS$4,000,000 per kg of PFOS destructed. “The return in terms of remediation and reduction of residual PFOS is fairly ineffective. You need to take a broad view and determine how money can be spent to achieve the best long-term result.” There are a number of remedial responses available. Source treatment and containment offers long-term but not short-term risk reduction, while receptor protection/interception/ containment will reduce the risk more quickly but will see costs escalate in the long-term. Management (receptor control) can reduce risks faster and at lower cost but there may be an unacceptable long-term risk. Ultimately, sites may need multiple approaches, coupling management control with interception, source treatments and containment. Selection of appropriate treatments must consider risk to stakeholders of both the impact of remedial works and the condition of land and water after treatment. For example, is there a risk of future containment failure? It is also important to choose the most sustainable option that balances social, environmental, and economic factors. Nadebaum closed by arguing that regulators need to consider what they ultimately want to achieve. “In one Australian state there are 300 sites under investigation. What will the financial implications be for those sites and the country as a whole? Regulators need to consider the implications of some of their policies against the scale of the risk.”

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FOAM

Academic reflections Fluorinated chemicals commonly used in AFFF were discussed by academia during the recent International Conference on Chemistry and the Environment. IFJ reports from Oslo.

T To access the abstracts from the ICCE2017 Oslo meeting visit: http:// icce2017.org/ downloads/ Abstrakts amling_16 _06_17.pdf

Short-chain C2-C6 prefluoro degradation products and PFOA replacements are now coming under scrutiny. (Photo: Oslo City Hall, by Maxim Grohotov)

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he conference highlighted concerns around the long-term PBT profiles for perfluorinated carboxylates and sulphonates with chain lengths C6 and shorter, which are currently regarded as the ‘safe’ option for AFFF. Approximately 420 registered delegates mainly from academic and government institutions attended this four-day international conference, held on the Blindern Campus of the University of Oslo in June and organised by the Norwegian Chemical Society and the American Chemical Society. A major part of the conference dealt with environmental contamination caused through the manufacture and use of fluorochemicals (PFAS). Other conference sessions dealt with a very broad range of environmental chemistry which included arctic pollution, water treatment, modern analytical techniques used in environmental chemistry, and sanitation technology. A number of important general themes that were directly relevant to fire engineering and the use of fire-fighting foam came out of both a PFAS satellite workshop and the main PFAS session. The TOPA oxidation method introduced by Houtz and Sedlak in 2012 featured prominently in a number of presentations. This is becoming the method of choice for regulators and end-users alike and is regarded as current best practice for detecting PFCA and PFSA precursor compounds in commercial fluorochemical products such as fire-fighting foams or treated textiles, as well as in waste streams and contaminated soils and groundwater. TOPA effectively unmasks ‘hidden’ perfluorinated parts of the fluorochemicals used – so-called ‘dark matter’ – without the need to know the exact composition of commercially secret formulations. TOPA often reveals potential sources of highly persistent PFCA and PFSA which could contaminate

the environment as the result of degradation, far in excess of the levels measured by standard methods of analysis. As such the method is a valuable tool for carrying out a suitable and sufficient assessment of environmental risk (SSAER), and far better than anything previously available. The first presentation at the Sunday satellite workshop with the theme ‘PFAS – the big picture’ pointed out that application of the Precautionary Principle* meshed well with the use of the TOPA technique. This is because TOPA helps to address the scientific uncertainty associated with unknown toxicity and bio-accumulative profiles for the huge range of perfluorochemical species now known to be present in articles of commerce or their degradation products. Some 40 classes of novel fluorinated chemicals have been identified in fire-fighting foams alone, as discussed by Jennifer Field and her colleagues. Estimates for the number of perfluorinated species ‘out there’ run into the hundreds; as was pointed out, this is why PFC precursors matter and why TOPA is an essential tool for unmasking potential contaminant sources. An example of TOPA results for contaminated firewater run-off showed the dramatic ‘unmasking’ of previously hidden PFCA precursors only apparent after oxidation to highly stable persistent end-point products. An excellent contribution from the Norwegian Institute of Health (Kristine Gutzkow) highlighted the establishment of probable links between various human disorders such as specific organ cancers or a compromised immune response and exposure to fluorochemicals. Such links can then be used to inform application of the Precautionary Principle as a means of protecting population health. It was also clear from a number of the papers delivered at the Oslo meeting that there are increasing concerns being

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expressed over short-chain C2-C6 perfluoro degradation products and PFOA replacements. Recent results published in the literature were discussed by a number of speakers; these described the detection of very short chain C2-C4 perfluorinated end-point degradation compounds found in groundwater plumes from contaminated fire-fighting training areas. These plumes were considerably larger than those containing PFOA or PFOS, indicating very high environmental mobility for these short chain materials. Moreover, it was shown that short-chain perfluorinated species – perfluorocarboxylates and perfluoroalkyl sulphonates – are very difficult to remove from waste streams by absorption using activated carbon. Compared to either PFOA or PFOS, breakthrough occurs very rapidly, leading to waste-water treatment plant (WWTP) effluent dispersing these contaminants. These are then found to concentrate in grasses and agricultural crops, thus potentially entering the food chain. Speakers showed data underlining the difficulty of cleaning WWTP waste streams containing a wide range of perfluorinated chain lengths. Increasing evidence in the literature that fluorochemical degradation product plumes may be far larger than previously thought highlighted the importance of remediation technology for dealing with land contaminated as the result of current or legacy firefighting operations and training with AFFF. A summary of current methods (Filipovic) provided a useful list of pros and cons for using particular technologies, which include containment, excavate-and-dump to landfill, and pump-and-treat. Of all these methods, pump-and-treat with return of the purified effluent back to groundwater, after activated carbon or other absorbent treatment, was regarded as the most environmentally acceptable. Pump-and-treat was said to be the method of choice in Germany at the moment; it has been used on a large scale to remediate groundwater and soil contamination with PFAS at the head of the Ruhr catchment area (Möhnetal) and at Düsseldorf Airport.

A new group of emerging contaminants, the perfluoroether carboxylic acids (PFECAs), was identified as a source of potential environmental contaminants resulting from fluoropolymer production (Vestergren). These perfluoroether derivatives are now being used in increasing tonnages as substitutes for PFOA and PFNA in fluoropolymer manufacture. Unfortunately, these substances are highly mobile in the aqueous environment; are found increasingly in human plasma amongst both the general population and occupationally exposed workers; and are concentrated by fish. During discussions it became clear that national regulators were becoming increasingly concerned about possibly unfavourable long-term PBT profiles for perfluorinated carboxylates and sulphonates with chain lengths C6 and shorter. The need for further research in this area was highlighted by Lena Vierke of the German Environment Agency, in particular as regards toxicological information of the shorter chain PFASs, which are coming under increasing regulatory scrutiny. Some of these PFASs are being actively considered under REACH or the Stockholm Convention on POPs, with moves to conduct risk management options analysis. Many of the longer chain PFCAs (C8 and longer) are already classified as substances of very high concern and PFOA itself is now subject to new limits within the EU. All of this points towards the possibility that the current generation of pure C6 fire-fighting foams may find themselves in the spotlight at some time in the future. Whether in years to come their adoption by industry will end up with a re-run the PFOS/PFOA saga all over again, leading to considerable financial and legal liability at some time in the future, remains to be seen. * The Precautionary Principle arose out of the UN Rio Declaration in 1992 and is legally obligatory under many international and national environmental jurisdictions in order to maintain environmentally sustainable development and protect human health.

Clean water drains into a river after passing through a wastewater treatment system. (Photo: John Kasawa)

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HAZMAT AND DECONTAMINATION

Clean protocol A new vehicle decontamination protocol ensures fire-fighting vehicles are free of legacy contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in aqueous film-forming foam, reports Lotte Debell.

T Organisations that want to operate in a totally fluorine-free environment should also consider legacy contamination in their fire trucks. (Photo: Lumppini/ Shutterstock)

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he new 30-stage decontamination and verification process that is designed to make appliances PFAS-free was presented by Dr Peter Nadebaum during a PFAS-contamination seminar in London on 5 July 2017. The protocol is designed for organisations that aim to operate in a totally fluorine-free environment and who, as part of the process, have to consider the potential for legacy contamination by PFAS chemicals in their fire trucks. Simply transitioning to fluorine-free foams is not sufficient on its own, nor does it deal with the legacy contamination issue quickly enough. Which is why GHD has developed a PFAS decontamination protocol for fire trucks. Nadebaum, senior principal – environment at GHD, explained that the revelations of the contamination at the Fiskville firefighter training facility (IFJ Q2 2016 and IFJ Q4 2016) in Victoria, Australia, and the subsequent inquiry, prompted the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board in Victoria to decide that it needed to transition to a fluorine-free operation for the protection of its firefighters, the public, and the environment. The problem, however, is that historic use of AFFF containing chemicals such as PFOS and PFOA may not only have already caused contamination in areas where it was used intensively, but it could continue to do so through residual contamination in fire trucks, particularly raw foam tanks in older appliances. GHD has conducted a survey of vehicles across a number of fire services in Australia, and has found that legacy contamination is common. “Residual contamination in fire trucks will result in traces of PFOS and PFOA in the water, which may be discharged into the environment and may contaminate land and groundwater,” said Nadebaum. He also highlighted the danger to personnel, which extends not only to firefighters, who come into contact with the raw concentrate or the fire water during firefighting activities, but also to maintenance personnel servicing the trucks’ engines, pumps, and other components. The first challenge for developing the vehicle decontamination protocol was determining its criteria. GHD worked with fire and rescue organisations to establish the levels of PFAS firefighters could potentially come into contact with during their activities. After determining that maintenance crews and fire training officers had the greatest likelihood of coming into contact with PFAS, it was a case of setting the criteria for residual PFOS and PFOA based on tolerable daily intake levels used for public health with an additional safety factor. “We looked at the human health risks and opted for conservative levels of these

chemicals,” said Nadebaum. “At the same time, we confirmed these levels would be acceptable for discharge into the environment and for fire training, so the criteria was developed to be protective of the environment as well as personnel.” For the decontamination itself, GHD has developed a 30-stage decontamination and verification process designed to ensure that appliances can be made safe and returned to service. The process works through all the internal equipment and vehicle systems including the raw foam tanks – where contamination has been commonly found – pumps and feed lines, delivery systems, removable components such as hoses, connectors, uptake and transfer hoses, and halo, groundspray, and deluge systems. The process is complicated by the toxic nature of PFAS foam, with the attendant health and safety concerns, and the need to carefully manage waste foam and waste water from the decontamination process. Other issues include the different configurations of fire trucks, which often carry raw foam in one or both tanks. These tanks are rarely cleaned and usually just topped up, even if the switch to modern foams has taken place. Furthermore, also required is a post-decon test regime and tracking system that documents the process and certifies the vehicle as safe to return to service. Finding a safe place to carry out the decontamination process is also important and Nadebaum explained that in Australia trucks are taken to a specially constructed facility where the removable components such as hoses and ladders can be stripped for separate decontamination. The trucks meanwhile go into a bund system so that the raw foam can be pumped out and the tanks flushed and cleaned. During this process, cross-contamination is avoided through the use of colour-coded pumps and pipelines, while components such as filters are dismantled to enable solidified foam to be removed. The tanks themselves are flushed in a controlled manner to avoid foam creation, using a slow flow of temperaturecontrolled water. The waste water generated from flushing is collected for processing and disposal. The pump systems, lines and foam injectors are flushed clean using a multi-part manifold specially designed for the purpose. On-board components such as truck-mounted hose reels and groundspray systems are also flushed, and where halo system are fitted, trucks are contained in a polythene sheet while the halo is purged. Meanwhile, components such as pick-up hoses and connectors that are detachable are cleaned in the bund

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haZMat aNd deCONtaMiNatiON

using another specially designed tool – a pressure hose with a spinning head. Then the truck itself and interior voids are pressure washed. Again, waste water is collected. Truck hoses have to be cleaned both internally and externally. A series of specially designed hose washing units handle the external decon, while a water recycling pod is used for internal decon, which cycles high-pressure water through the hoses for 30 minutes. Samples are tested throughout the process to check that the desired levels of contaminants are being achieved. Further samples are taken at the end of the decontamination for further testing, including water samples from each tank, the truck-mounted hose reels and the monitor. “The waste foam product and waste water that results from the decontamination can be problematic,”’ said Nadebaum, due to both the volume – each truck can generate between 6,000 and 8,000 litres – and the residual contaminants. “This water needs to be treated, and we opted for high-temperature destruction. However, as this is expensive, it was important to minimise the volume of waste water that is sent off for destruction.” The waste foam product has to be destroyed at a high-temperature destruction facility, but the waste water can be re-concentrated by passing it through a series of activated carbon filters. “This strips out the PFAS foam and can achieve sub part-per-billion results in the treated waste water, enabling this to be disposed of as trade waste at much lower cost. Only the carbon filters then need to go to the destruction facility.” Once properly completed, this decontamination protocol will ensure that any residual PFAS contamination in the vehicles is at a threshold level that subject matter experts have determined will not pose a risk to either personnel or the environment, and is more effective than simply transitioning to modern, fluorine-free foams.

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APP FOR HAZMAT A multilingual app that provides explosion protection expertise has been launched by UL. The UL Hazloc mobile app offers easy access to the latest global certification, installation and inspection principles. It is aimed at designers, manufacturers, distributors, installers and inspection and regulatory authorities across oil and gas, chemical, agricultural, pharmaceuticals and mining industries. Features include the verification of applicable standards for a product; confirmation of appropriate protection techniques for equipment in a given area classification; as well as confirmation of maximum surface temperature associated with a rated temperature code. To ease the search process, the app has an interactive ‘find your standard’ tool that allows users to search by five key criteria, with search results indicating the applicable standard for a number of regions. Key technical information includes types of explosive atmospheres; likelihood of an explosive atmosphere being present; ignition-related properties of the atmosphere; temperature classifications; methods of explosion protection; markings required; national and regional standards such as EN, IEC, ABNT, ANSI, CAN and GOST; and ingress protection codes and type ratings. In addition to English, UL Hazloc is available in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, German, Portuguese and Spanish. The app is available for free download through both iTunes and Googleplay and, according to UL, it will be further enhanced later this year with a ‘find your competence’ tool.

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Only human

George Taylor describes why and how human factors should take a prominent role in risk-management training for aircraft rescue and fire fighting.

G

Good training ensures that a risk is perceived adequately enough to lead to a safe and effective outcome.

ood teamwork, effective communications and the understanding of the full consequences of individual actions cannot be achieved without a training programme that takes human factors into account. The recent release of the most hazardous industries in the UK (see below) did not include the fire service. Why is the fire service, which many consider as a high-risk group, not within the top ten? I would argue that it is because it is trained not only to follow procedures but also to adapt when faced with unusual circumstances, using sound judgments based on planned training, experience and application of safety management practices within a regulatory framework. A growth area in risk management is the field of human factors, where behavioural and organisational psychology form the basis for understanding risk and decision-making. Awareness of organisational risk, regarded by some as a management issue, applies to everyone because the effects of an individual’s action can have a major impact on the business as a whole. It is therefore imperative that risk awareness is

Fatal injuries arising from accidents at work in Great Britain 2017, Health and Safety Executive • A total of 137 workers were killed at work in the UK in 2016/17 • The construction sector had the most fatalities (30), followed by agriculture (27), manufacturing (19), waste and recycling (14), and transportation and storage (14). • Around three-quarters of fatal injuries in both 2016/17p and the combined five-year period 2012/13-2016/17p were accounted for by just six different kinds of accident. • Being struck by moving vehicles, falls from a height and being struck by a moving object continue as the three main causes of fatal injury, between them accounting for over half of all fatal injuries each year since at least 2001/02. • Fatal injuries to workers are predominately to male workers. In 2016/17, 133 (97%) of all worker fatalities were to male workers, a similar proportion to earlier years. • The rate of fatal injury increases with age, with workers aged 60-64 having a rate almost double the all-ages rate, and workers aged 65 and over a rate around four times greater than the all-ages rate.

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instilled as part of the learning process. Within the field of risk management, human factors provide information about why a risk-based decision is made; an example being the travelling public having a greater fear of flying over driving on the road, where statistically there is higher risk of injury arising from accidents involving vehicles. In a training context it is important that human factors are incorporated into risk assessment during the decision-making process, in order to secure a valid outcome with effective control measures. The human tendency for error and wishful thinking can conspire to cloud decision-making; it is imperative students understand this issue not only when making a dynamic risk assessment but also when conducting analytical risk assessment. Students should be encouraged to realise that we all have limits, that there are occasions when we have to accept that a task is beyond our capabilities, and an alternative appropriate action has to be proposed. The days of blind adherence to a task’s outcome is a thing of the past and not compliant with safe working practices. An ARFF-learning programme should include human factors because this is a critical feature to ensure airport firefighters understand the importance of teamwork, communication, the need for standard operating procedures; along with an awareness of the impact of their actions not only on themselves but on others with whom they are working. This is achieved by lessons on health and safety legislation, risk assessment methodology and exercises that incorporate a mix of analytical risk assessment and dynamic risk assessment, all of which build up to a review of recent or significant incidents where the issues that delegates may face during the course of their career are discussed. This process ensures a firefighter’s perception of risk does not lead to inappropriate decisionmaking where time has not been taken to identify the hazards and accompanying risks that exist. In practical terms, we initially challenge students’ understanding with one non-aircraft incident that, as it unfolds, reveals a wider scenario that aims to modify the original risks perceived. This scenario is designed to stress the need for ensuring that the tactical plan is formulated using sufficient information to achieve the required outcome effectively and safely.

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Other exercises typically involve an initial in-depth pre-brief session on the scenario with discussions on safety issues and safe working practices, followed by practice runs initially without fire; this is to ensure delegates have sufficient knowledge of the hazard and awareness of the risk to be able to tackle the scenario safely and effectively as a team. Each phase is followed by a debrief session where students are encouraged to discuss the event as well as their individual contribution to its outcome. Encouraging the students to identify what went wrong is an important feature of the learning experience as it encourages self reflection and self improvement. The instructor’s role in this process is significant – in essence encouraging students to ‘bare all’ while contributing to the discussion in an atmosphere of positive development. Whilst to an outsider it may appear that the students are doing most of the talking, the instructor will step in where there is a need for improvement in performance or to make students aware of the consequences of individual or team failings. The subject of risk also covers personal safety, an area that must also be seriously considered by training providers. Whilst modern PPE provides excellent protection from thermal radiation it also retains body heat, which can lead to individuals not appreciating that they may be exceeding safe working limits. Data from numerous studies confirms that the physiological impact of heat exposure and hard work can be significant on human performance and, more importantly, on decisionmaking – especially in an environment that would be untenable for someone without the appropriate PPE. A number of steps are taken to address this. The issues related to heat and humidity are discussed as part of the debrief process, including the importance of team members monitoring each other for signs of heat and stress. A training programme should be structured to avoid prolonged exposure to heat; students

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should be afforded rehydration breaks, which not only reduces fatigue but also establishes safer working practices on the fireground. Physiological damage as a result from long-term exposure to heat and humidity are risks that are not confined to students. As a training centre we have sufficient instructional staff to cover the full suite of courses, with courses being delivered on a rota. Appropriate PPE along with thermal imaging cameras are used during exercises to monitor conditions, and adherence to the hydration policy is also applicable to the staff undertaking the training. Whilst hydration and fatigue are issues that must be considered, exposure and hypothermia can also be a very real hazard on both the training ground and during fire-fighting operations. Often overlooked is both the wind chill factor – an ever present characteristic of aerodromes due to their topography – and the fact that harsh weather conditions can increase the personal risk to firefighters. In extreme winter conditions it is imperative that students have access to facilities that provide hot drinks. Access to clean dry PPE is important because wet fire kit increases the risk of injury in simulations involving heat and can also drain heat from the body. Dry PPE ensures that students are comfortable, which enhances learning. With change inevitable in the form of emerging hazards and risks as well as new technologies being fitted in ARFF vehicles, the challenge for ARFF training providers is to continue to offer a service that is relevant and that provides a good return on investment. This may involve investing in simulators, classroom facilities and accommodation, features that are key for the development of students who can spend several weeks away from home whilst in training. The overriding aim doesn’t change, however, which is to provide students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to recognise and control the risk to themselves and others. Something that is crucial for the safety of all of us.

George Taylor is aviation instructor at the Fire Training Group

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PPE

In extremities

The next ten years of product development for fire-fighting boots, gloves and helmets may depend as much on the approach to fire fighting as it does on technical advances, reports Rick Markley.

E

ven if no major changes are expected to the US standard for firefighters’ boots, helmets and gloves until 2023, industry is already reacting to concerns around cancer-causing particulates, cleaning and ensemble interfaces. When trying to predict the future development of items such as boots, gloves or helmets, understanding the market’s

Top: the lack of an ensemble approach remains a significant gap in personal protective equipment. Right: Lion's Primus glove.

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prevailing attitude is a good starting point. In North America, one of the driving forces behind market attitude and, ultimately, product offerings is the body of standards issued by the National Fire Protection Association. While the NFPA’s standards have no regulatory backing, they are mostly followed by fire equipment manufacturers in North America and by most municipalities overseeing fire departments. The standards are evaluated and revised every five years. NFPA 1971, which covers firefighter boots, helmets and gloves, was set to have its 2018 revision voted on this August. Experts say not to expect anything more than subtle changes to these items in the next edition of the NFPA 1971 standard. "Changes in the standard were rather lacklustre in terms of driving innovations for firefighter protective ensemble elements, including boots, gloves and helmets," says Jeffrey Stull, who serves on the NFPA 1971 committee. Stull, along with his wife Grace, operates International Personal Protection and authored the book, PPE made easy. “Until standards open up to incentivise innovative product technology, significant changes in these products may be hampered.” Robert Freese, Globe’s senior vice president of marketing, knows a bit about the evolution of firefighting PPE – his great grandfather is credited with inventing the first set of PPE in 1887. He says the NFPA is a cautious, conservative body that requires proof before enacting changes. “If you look inside the NFPA standards, there’s an attempt not to be design restrictive, because that stifles modernisation and change. But there is also a conservativism in that we don’t want to allow any product on the marketplace that could possibly jeopardise firefighter health and safety.” One example of a recent revision that firefighters and departments pushed for was NFPA-approved hoods that act as a barrier to cancer-causing particulate matter. This came on the heels of growing evidence linking fire-fighting activities to cancers and to recent studies showing that the firefighter’s head, throat and neck are especially susceptible to particulates from fire combustion. It is in this area that the industry could see the greatest impetus for development for fire-fighting boots, gloves and helmets when the 2023 version of NFPA 1971 is compiled. “Protection from particulates could end up being a major theme of the next [NFPA 1971] edition, and not just for hoods,” says Mark Williams, a 20-year glove product specialist for Gore. When researchers looked at particulate matter on the skin near the hood, they found that when subjects removed their gloves they had a lot of particulates on their hands. Karen Lehtonen, vice president at Lion, says another area that may get a closer look is the interface where the glove meets the coat cuff, the boot meets the pant cuff, and the helmet meets the collar. It may not be manufacturers’ number-one priority, but it will be up there, she says. One of the challenges will be making interfaces that work equally well across product lines. Stull, a long time supporter of the full-ensemble approach, explains why: “One of the big gaps in personal protective equipment for firefighters is the lack of an ensemble approach. Items of the ensemble including garments, helmets, hoods, gloves and footwear are sold separately, and it is up to the individual fire departments to judiciously select and integrate these items for effective protection. Levels of protection among the different elements are not commensurate, and thus there can be gaps in protection or ineffective interfaces.” Additionally, it is widely believed that a greater focus on cancer-causing agents will lead to more emphasis on

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PPE

Boot weight has been identified as a contributory factor to an increased chance of injury. Right: Lion's Commander boots are designed to match the shape of the heel.

cleaning PPE, which will also affect the evolution of boots, gloves and helmets. “This may require rethinking of some aspects of the clothing, because repeated laundering of gear is likely to result in shorter lifespans,” says Stull. Other challenges will simply carry on. For fire-fighting gloves, product engineers will continue to fight the dexterity versus insulation battle. The more thermal protection the glove offers, the less mobility it gives users and vice versa. PPE experts expect we will see incremental improvements in glove dexterity over the coming ten years. “We can get there a lot easier with some of the materials that are now available, and by using gloves that are 3D-designed with more pieces versus just a front and a back,” Lehtonen says. "I think we’ll easily be there within the next five to ten years.” Freese believes that a hybrid or layered-system approach may be the best course for providing protection and dexterity in gloves. He points to the military and its adoption of high-protection gloves worn over high-dexterity gloves in aircraft firefighting. When less protection and more dexterity is needed, the outer glove is removed. “Some of the European gloves are much more flexible than the US gloves. I think they are heading in the right direction. We’re still steeped in the notion that it is a fire-fighting glove and its primary function is to protect the hand against heat. Maybe there needs to be different gloves or layered-glove systems because we can’t do parts of the job in terms of operating extrication tools and that sort of thing as well as we should with a structural fire-fighting glove.” When it comes to barrier technology, Williams says he doesn’t anticipate much change over the next ten years because there just isn’t much room to improve upon the existing product. “How do you make an insulation material

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that’s there when you need it and not when you don’t? That violates the laws of physics.” It will take a manufacturing breakthrough to realise a major change in fire-fighting gloves, says Stull: “The only way that gloves could be radically improved would be the introduction of a completely different moisture barrier system as part of the glove construction. Current flat-film barrier technology simply results in bulky gloves because glove moisture barriers and liners do not readily integrate with the leather or fabric shells.” When it comes to boots, however, the experts agree that the big challenge is removing weight without compromising protection. That’s important as a recent study showed that heavier fire-fighting boots change how firefighters walk and increase their incidence of injury. Substituting lighter composite materials for steel to provide puncture and crush protection is an encouraging development in the quest to remove weight from boots, according to Lehtonen. The experts agree that leather is vastly superior to rubber and long for the day when the rubber firefighting boot is only seen in museums. But to get there, manufacturers will have to overcome the perception of higher cost, convincing fire departments to look at cost of ownership versus cost of purchase. Gloves and boots aside, the real 800-pound gorilla in the US fire service room is the beloved helmet; the tall crown and wide brim are as recognisable and iconic as the cowboy hat. Experts say that the iconic, traditional design is hindering helmet advances, such as in the seamless integration of face and eye protection in the European-style helmet. “Overcoming the iconic look of the US fire helmet will be a challenge for those manufacturers that attempt to combine new features as part of the helmet,” Stull says. “The opportunity for changes comes with the integration of other features not typically applied in helmets. For example, certain types of electronics including sensors may be better suited on the helmet than the SCBA. Traditional style helmets, particularly those based on leather, remain an inefficient design.” “There’s not a lot you can do until firefighters are ready to accept a different look,” Lehtonen says. “I’d love to say we’ll be there in ten to 15 years, but I’m not sure we will.” In the end, whether it is the cost of boots, the look of a helmet or the fear of getting cancer, it is firefighter attitudes that will drive changes to PPE. For Freese, the attitudes that will give momentum to PPE development spring from how firefighters set out to do their job. That means looking at the expanded activities firefighters must do and how PPE helps or hinders those roles. It also means taking a hard look at the approach to fighting fires. Many think that moving from a universal, most-hazard standard model to one where levels of protection can be selected based on local risk and needs assessments could help with PPE development. “We are in the incipient stages of understanding exposures from things such as carcinogens from particles and smoke,” Freese says. “Products will have a part to play in limiting these exposures. But, it is going to be tactical procedures and guidelines and our approach to extinguishing the fire that will have the most impact.” “We don’t really need to put firefighters in the smoke and up close,' he adds. 'The fire doesn’t really care if you are squirting water on it from four feet away or if you are squirting water on it through a window or a doorway.” How those major attitude shifts play out will have a direct influence on what our next generation of boots, gloves and helmets can and cannot do.

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PPE

GrEEN BrEaKthrOuGh iN PrOtECtiVE FiNiSh A firefighter’s protective clothing fabric with a chemical repellent that meets current environmental regulations has been launched. Petrogard+ is a protective fabric coating that replaces so-called ‘C8’ fluoro-chemicals with new C6 technology. It has been developed by UK manufacturer Heathcoat Fabrics. The chemical coating is added to the surface of fibres in fire-fighting clothing to provide water, oil and chemical protection. Fluoro-carbon finishes are used because no alternatives have been found that provide the water and oil repellence required by EN469, the European standard for fire-fighting protective clothing. This film prevents droplets from penetrating the fabric whilst allowing moisture vapour and air to transfer through. For some time the textile industry has been faced with the challenge of replacing the C8 fluoro-chemicals previously used in the coatings with shorter chain, C6 versions that would perform to the same level and with similar durability. C8 chemicals were found to breakdown to PFOA in the environment, a substance of concern to regulatory authorities due to its environmental and human health impact. “The challenge has been replacing C8 fluoro-carbon compounds with shorter chain C6 chemistry in protective fabric coatings,” explained Mark Drysdale, commercial manager of protectivewear at Heathcoat. “Having refined the fluoro-chemistry after several years’ work, we have a safer and greener solution that provides durable chemical repellency combined with a UV inhibitor to retain strength.” Petrogard+ is now available on all Heathcoat protective outer shell fabrics including its new PBI Pure range of heat and flame protective fabrics. These use the optimal PBI blend combining heat and flame protective PBI fibres with para-aramid, a supporting fibre which provides high strength. According to the manufacturer, all three fabric variations – PBI Pure Dynamo, PBI Pure Core and PBI Pure Shield – are designed to give improved breathability, added comfort to the wearer and an increased percentage of strength retention after exposure to UV. In combination with Petrogard+, the range is suited to firefighter protection and provides an industry-leading level of protection against fire, heat and chemicals including petrol. The new fabrics will be officially launched at the Emergency Services Show in Birmingham, UK, 20-21 September.

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First steps forward With the effects of the Grenfell Tower disaster still reverberating around the world, IFJ reports on the latest developments in the UK, including the testing on cladding systems and the establishment of an independent inquiry as well as an expert panel.

T

The fierce fire that ripped through Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London on 14 June left hundreds homeless and at least 80 dead (Photo: John Gomez, Shutterstock)

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he terms of reference for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry have been approved by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May with an initial report expected around the beginning of April. The inquiry, which is being led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, will examine the circumstances surrounding the fire, including the immediate cause(s) of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole building. Police believe at least 80 people died when the tower was engulfed in fire on 14 June. Although the fire is believed to have started in a fridgefreezer, the cladding and insulation surrounding the building following a refurbishment has also come under scrutiny, with experts saying a more fire-resistant type could have been used. As a result, the design and construction of Grenfell Tower and the decisions relating to its modification, refurbishment and management will be analysed by Sir Martin. The inquiry will also examine the scope and adequacy of current building regulations, fire regulations and other legislation, guidance and industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings; and whether Grenfell Tower and its fire safety measures complied with them. Also looked at will be the reaction by the local authority and other responsible bodies to information provided to them related to fire risk at Grenfell Tower, as well as the fire prevention and fire safety measures in place on the day of the fire. The response of the London fire Brigade to the fire, and the response of central and local government immediately following the fire will also be examined. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry aims to hold a preliminary hearing on its findings in mid-September. An initial report on the cause of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole building could be published as early as Easter 2018, although this is dependent on the completion of the forensic fire investigation. Around two weeks after the fire on 14 June, the Department for Communities and Local Government appointed an independent panel to advise on immediate safety action following the fire. Chaired by former London Fire

Commissioner and former Government Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Sir Ken Knight, the panel is formed by experts including Dr Peter Bonfield, Chief Executive of the Building Research Establishment, Roy Wilsher, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council and Amanda Clack, President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Partner at EY. To assist building owners in making fire-safety decisions and implementing safety measures in light of the tragedy, on 6 July the panel recommended a series of large-scale, BS 8414 tests be carried out at BRE’s facilities in Watford, north London. Testing involved building a 9m-high demonstration wall with a complete cladding system – including panels and insulation – fixed to it, and then subjecting it to a fire. It aimed to replicate a severe fire in a flat breaking out of a window to ascertain whether it then spreads upwards along the outside wall. The tests included six combinations of cladding systems that are representative of the systems that are in common use, as well as the way they are fixed. They incorporated each of the three common types of aluminium composite material (ACM) panel, with core filler materials of unmodified polyethene (PE), fire-retardant polyethene, and limited-combustibility mineral. The two insulation materials used in the testing were rigid polyisocyanurate foam and non-combustible mineral wool. Test of ACM cladding systems with unmodified polyethene core and a rigid polyisocyanurate foam; with a polyethene filler (category 3) with stone wool insulation; and with a fire retardant polyethene filler with PIR foam insulation, all failed to meet the criteria set out in building regulations guidance BR 135. There are around 206 buildings over 18m-high in the UK currently known to have these combinations of materials. A fourth set of tests on a wall cladding system consisting of ACM cladding with a fire resistant polyethene filler (category 2 in screening tests) and stone wool insulation did pass the test. So did an ACM cladding with a limited combustibility filler (category 1 in screening tests) with PIR foam. According to the official communication, there are no tall buildings in the UK over 18m using the latter combination of materials in their wall systems. In parallel to the testing programme, local authorities and

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hiGh-riSe BuiLdiNGS

housing associations were tasked with identifying all residential tower blocks with ACM and submit samples for testing. The scope of the current fire safety focus has not been confined to local authority-owned properties. In mid August the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

wrote to all local authority chief executives, highlighting that they had a statutory duty to keep all local housing conditions under review. His letter urged them to take active steps to ensure owners of residential tower blocks were taking measures to ensure residents were safe, with a view to taking action where buildings had been found to have cladding systems which had failed the combustibility tests. He reminded them that in the case of private sector building owners not complying with requests for remedial action, the local housing authority had enforcement powers to undertake remedial work and reclaim the cost from the owner. However, it is yet unclear where the funds will come from to replace cladding on high-rise towers owned by the local authorities themselves. The Local Government Association has said that councils do not have the funding to carry out this work on their own high-rise buildings and that in its view the government should meet the exceptional cost to councils of removing and replacing cladding and insulation on high-rise blocks. The DCLG is working with the LGA to determine what these costs are. The third primary Grenfell Tower-related initiative is an independent review of building regulations and fire safety in the UK, announced by the government in late July. Led by Dame Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organisation, it will look at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high-rise residential buildings. It will examine the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety; related compliance and enforcement issues; and international regulation and experience in this area. At the time of writing the terms of reference for this review had not been published.

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HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS

Overhaul due Richard Coates raises a number of troubling questions regarding the UK’s fire safety regime in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

D The UK is far behind the US in understanding the role of sprinkler protection in life safety. (Photo: Boonsom, Shutterstock)

About the author Richard Coates has 50 years’ of fire experience, including 22 years in UK fire brigades from firefighter to Chief Fire Officer as well as a senior course director at the Fire Service College. He spent 17 years with BP International as worldwide fire adviser, and four and a half years as fire-risk manager at the BBC. He is currently a fire-risk consultant as well as chair of BSI committee FSH/2 Portable fire equipment and a volunteer first responder and governor with South Central Ambulance Service

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isappearing official guidance on insulated core panels and conflict between assumptions in building regulation and fire-event advice to high-rise residents are just some of the issues that the disaster has highlighted. In the UK responsibility for inspecting all premises of work for fire safety was transferred from the fire brigades to the people responsible for the buildings in 2005. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the primary fire safety legislation governing all places where people work, reside, or entertain. It was backed by a series of 16 government guidance documents produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government to enable those responsible for buildings to carry out a fire risk assessment without having to employ a fire risk assessor. The first batch of guidance documents produced in 2006 included Fire safety risk assessment: offices and shops. The section titled Insulated core panels provides a full description of the different types of inner core panels and their flammability, from noncombustible through to highly flammable. A series of bullet points set out what would occur in a fire situation; these bullet points describe exactly what happened to the exterior cladding panels in the Grenfell Tower. The penultimate paragraph of this section states: "In areas where there is a considerable life risk, it may be appropriate to consider replacing combustible panels, providing a fire suppression system and installing non-combustible fire breaks between panels at suitable intervals." Later guidance documents, however, were not so comprehensive. By the time additional guidance was published, such as December 2012’s document Sleeping accommodation, the equivalent section on core panels had been cut by 50% and the section on the serious combustible nature of the polymeric flammable cores had been removed. Section 1.12 of this document, which has the same heading as in the offices and shops guidance document, has been watered down significantly. Why? And who deleted it? This has significant implications because the Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing, produced by the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory

Services and directed at residential blocks such as Grenfell Tower and the five Camden high rise blocks, refers back to the RRFSO and the guidance in the December 2012 document Sleeping accommodation – with its watered down section 1.12 on insulated core panels. Much has also been made of the fact that Grenfell Tower did not have a sprinkler system installed. Across the Atlantic in Scottsdale, Arizona, a city-wide requirement for sprinkler systems in all new buildings effectively illustrates the considerable impact that sprinklers can have on fire safety. Scottsdale had a population of around 2,000 in 1952 and the population has grown to more than a quarter of a million residents. Following a period of industrial issues with the municipal fire department members, the city took the unusual step of contracting out its fire service requirements to a private provider, Rural Metro, in 1955. A key step taken to reduce the number and size of fires in the city was an ordinance requiring that all future buildings have fire sprinklers installed. This ordinance has now been in place for 32 years from 1985 and Scottsdale today prospers as a major resort, drawing more than seven million people annually. The closest comparison to this situation in the UK is at Studley Green in Wiltshire where a former chief fire officer managed to get a local bylaw passed that required all social housing to have residential sprinklers. Again, the result has been no subsequent fatalities in fires. It is widely suspected that one of the reasons that the UK lags behind the USA in fire safety is due to pressure placed on government by the construction industry – and even water companies – not to install sprinklers, with the aim of keeping building and water costs down. The situation is not as severe in Scotland, where Scottish building regulations are much stronger and sprinklers are mandated in all buildings over 18m high. Regulations in England and Northern Ireland mean that only buildings constructed since 2007 and which are taller than 30m are required to have sprinklers. This requirement wasn't applied retroactively so did not apply to Grenfell Tower, which was built in 1974. As of 1 January 2016, all new domestic premises in Wales are required to have a fire suppression system installed. Nowhere in the UK is it a requirement to retroactively fit sprinklers in existing buildings. On 19 August sprinklers extinguished a fire in a kitchen in Harbour Ridge, a high-rise block in Portsmouth, prior to fire appliances arriving. Consequently, Hampshire’s chief fire officer Dave Curry repeated his call for sprinklers in such premises: “Time and again, sprinklers have been proven to prevent the spread of fire in buildings and drastically reduce the threat to life”. The US is way ahead of the UK in terms of sprinkler protection and in a true understanding of its role in life safety. Unlike the US NFPA codes, the UK’s Building Regulations 2000 (in the introduction B1.i to the Approved document B that deals with the majority of buildings in England) clearly state: "the regulations assume that, in the design of the building, reliance should not be placed on external rescue by the Fire and Rescue Service, nor should it be based on a presumption that the Fire and Rescue Service will attend an incident within a given time." How do these regulations square with long-standing instructions to tenants in high-rise properties to stay in place and wait for rescue in the case of fire, by fire and rescue services and management organisations? I have always been against the stay-in-place policy in such emergencies because most housing in the UK does not have sprinklers. Now is surely the time for a radical overhaul of building regulations in England and Wales.

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reality check Fire safety provisions in high-rise buildings must be considered holistically, not individually, writes Paul Bryant.

EXPERIENCE THE BENEFITS OF ARTICULATED ACCESS AND REACH

A

s someone who has spent a lifetime trying to convince people that sprinkler systems are a ‘no-brainer’ in most cases, I find their negative coverage in Grenfell Tower’s post-event commentary highly frustrating. I started my career by reading an article about the benefits of sprinkler systems and little seems to have changed since then. I am writing this article in Barcelona. It is late afternoon on Thursday, 17 August 2017. The latest terrorist attack here is just being announced on the TV. As with any such horrible event, information is released as the story unfolds. It is a tense time. It is an awful realisation of yet another tragedy. It was a similar story with the Grenfell Tower fire. The sheer horror of the fire was bad enough and we now know that the true number of casualties may never be known. But what concerned me was not so much the speculation surrounding the event but the experts selected to comment on it, many of which I had never heard of before. Early on in the post-tragedy discussions taking place over the various TV networks, an architect was interviewed. When asked if sprinklers could have prevented the fire, he pointed out that a sprinkler system would be of no use, as the fire spread on the outside of the building. Obviously, this expert was not aware that the whole point of a sprinkler system is to contain a fire at the point of origin. Many times other experts seemingly supported the stance that sprinkler systems would have been of no use and that there was no need to consider them further. What became the top story was the failure of the external cladding. Again, information and disinformation were bandied about by anybody with a slight association with fire safety. There were the knee-jerk reactions. Mass tower-block evacuations. Occupants asking whether they were safe. Then there was the extensive cladding panel testing resulting in a high failure rate. The average person in the street can currently only conclude that every single cladded building in the UK is a potential fire trap. Are we testing for limited flammability or for something that cannot be readily achieved? After all, everything will burn if you heat it at high enough temperatures. My conclusion is that we need to assess fire safety provisions in their entirety, not individually. Every building should have an effective fire strategy. If one aspect fails then there are other provisions that should be able to prevent major fatalities. A major fire spreading rapidly on the outside of a building should not lead to the conclusion that deaths will follow, as has been shown by the recent external fires in Dubai’s high rise buildings, where everybody got out safely. ABoUT The AUThor Paul Bryant is a fire strategist and author. His book, Fire strategies – strategic thinking, is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version

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SUPPRESSION

Inspired protection The protection of a three-building office complex in Poland with a high-pressure water-mist system has delivered a number of benefits, writes Francisco García.

S The Warsaw Spire is Poland's second tallest building. (Photo: Przemyslaw Szablowski/ Shutterstock)

Francisco García is key account manager, Marioff

imulations had shown that the use of the high-pressure system would lead to cost savings in passive fire protection in the Warsaw Spire’s structural shell and core. Constructed by Belgian real estate developer Ghelamco Group, the complex’s main tower in Warsaw stands 220m tall, making it the country’s second tallest building and the 14th tallest in the European Union. The state-of-the-art fire suppression system chosen for the Warsaw Spire was the Hi-Fog water-mist suppression system from Marioff. It includes specialist high-pressure spray heads that convert water into small droplets, which increases the overall surface of the water. These small droplets absorb heat more quickly and cool the source of the fire more rapidly than droplets from traditional sprinklers, preventing the fire from spreading. Most importantly, the fast control and suppression of the fire play a significant role in assisting a safe evacuation. A pump unit provides pressurised water from the lower levels of the building to the top floor, the 49th, with no

intermediate pumping stations. Water is fed to the system from two tanks equipped with automatic refill, ensuring the 60-minute discharge duration required by NFPA. Installing the active fire protection system made it possible to reduce some of the passive fire protection stipulated by Poland’s fire safety regulations in high-rise buildings. Simulations showed that the use of fewer passive fire protective materials in the over-ground levels, in both the building shell and core, would be compensated by the cooling capabilities of the Hi-Fog system. The use of the high-pressure water-mist system led to a significant reduction in costs for passive fire protection materials of 25%, when compared to the use of traditional sprinklers. The general technical director of Ghelamco Poland, Arnold Neuville, said that the flexibility, smaller dimensions and ease of adaptation of the high-pressure water-mist system were particularly welcome, adding: “It provides key advantages, such as minimal damages in the event of a fire and the ability to use the system in IT rooms.”

Smiling in the mist Amongst the latest developments from the world of water mist are the publication of a draft EN standard for fixed fire-fighting systems and the announcement of the IWMA's 2017 Young Talent Award winner.

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he prize of €1,000 ( $1,190 US) and annual membership to the International Water Mist Association will be presented to James Patrick White during the 17th International Water Mist Conference in Rome, Italy, 25-26 October this year. White, who completed the winning PhD thesis Measurement and simulation of suppression effects in a buoyant line fire in 2016 at the University of Maryland, USA, becomes the second person to be awarded the prize. In 2016 it was awarded to Daniel Alexander Martin (pictured right) for the thesis, The use of a water mist curtain as a radiation shield. The award’s current winners are both from the US, a country which ironically has yet to fully support the adoption of water-mist technology. The announcement comes hot on the heels of the publication of pr EN 14972-1:2017 (Fixed firefighting systems – water mist systems – Part 1: Design, installation, inspection and maintenance) in June. Although not a European standard yet, the document can already be referred to and used in contracts. CEN members have been invited to comment, provide supporting documentation and inform the technical committee in charge of the standard’s work of any relevant patent rights. On becoming a full European standard, CEN members will have to comply with the CEN/ CENELEC internal regulations, which stipulate the conditions for giving the document the status of a national standard without alterations. “The existence and the content of the award-winning theses as well as

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the publication of pr EN 14972 all point to the fact that water mist is an autonomous technology”, commented IWMA general manager Bettina McDowell. “Water mist is not a niche product. In regard to what kind of fire protection to use in any one project, water mist belongs on the list of options next to foam, gas and sprinkler systems.” IWMA President Ragnar Wighus (above, left) added: “There are different applications where water mist is either among the best choices or it is in fact the best choice. This is true for – amongst others – passenger ferries, archives and libraries and high-rise buildings.” Evidence of the increased interest in the technology is the news that Underwriters Laboratories is to hold the first meeting of its water mist expert group on 26-27 October at the same venue as the IWMA’s annual event. In addition, the first Polish IWMA Water Mist Seminar in Cracow will take place on 15 November 2017, and the 3rd Dubai IWMA Water Mist Seminar will be held during Intersec in January next year.

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SUPPRESSION

Rising to the challenge

Water-mist technology, guidance and standards have advanced to the stage where they can be considered for the protection of high-rise buildings, explains Bob Whiteley.

T Water-mist systems can effectively protect high-rise occupancies when engineered to current British standards and industry guidelines. (Photo: the Dubai Waterfront, by Galina Savina)

Bob Whiteley is chair of BAFSA/ FIA Watermist Working Group

he highly effective cooling and fire suppression provided by the delivery of water in small droplets makes water-mist systems a realistic option in the field of high-rise building protection. High-rise premises pose major challenges for those concerned with the protection of life and property. This is true whether they are offices, hotels, or residential accommodation. They all present problems for firefighters and fire-protection engineers. The construction of these high-rise facilities will, initially, be carried out in accordance with the building regulations current at the time of construction, but it is not the intent of this article to discuss issues which surround their efficacy. Generally speaking, fire appliance ladders reach only as far as the 12th floor, so fire fighting and rescue have to be carried out on foot via the staircases. With buildings reaching well above 12 above ground floors it is apparent that effective protection of life may require additional measures. Secure and intact compartment boundaries have, to date, been advocated as a means of enabling residents to stay put and await rescue. However, this presupposes that these boundaries have not

Tyco's Aquamist nozzles generate a fine mist that limits fire growth at an early stage.

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been compromised either during construction or subsequently – Lakanal House provides a salutary lesson in this regard. The provision of fire alarms would serve to alert residents to the presence of fire but not its location or development. It is questionable whether sufficient information could be delivered to, and understood by, residents to manage phased evacuation and, conversely, to avoid a panic ‘stampede’ for the limited exits. Active fire suppression offers a proven and reliable means of safeguarding occupants of high-rise buildings as well as the fabric of the building itself. For many years automatic fire sprinklers have successfully provided fire protection in both domestic and commercial buildings. In more recent times water-mist technology has developed to the stage where it can also be considered for deployment in the protection of this type of building. As its name implies, water mist is the use of water dispersed as very small droplets. The benefit to the fire engineer is that, for each litre of water discharged, the surface area of water exposed to the heat of a fire is greatly enhanced. This results in the rapid cooling of flames, the combustion gases, and the surrounding air, thereby sustaining a tenable atmosphere in which people can survive and firefighters operate. The small droplets, being light in weight, remain airborne in the thermal air currents for extended periods, which enable them to optimise their heat absorption. This also enables them to be drawn by combustion air streams into the seat of a fire where they can vapourise to steam. When water turns to steam, within the flame front, it expands 1,620 times and pushes air away from the fire. It is clear that the fire-fighting mechanisms of water-mist systems are significantly different from those of sprinklers, which provide effective fire suppression by wetting

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SUPPRESSION

combustible materials within and around the fire source. Both automatic fire sprinkler heads and automatic water-mist fire-fighting nozzles are fitted with heat sensitive frangible bulbs. These hold each head/nozzle closed until such time as the air temperature around the nozzle reaches a predetermined level, at which time the bulb ruptures and releases water for that nozzle onto the seat of the fire – at an incipient stage of the fire’s development. All water-mist systems for high-rise occupancy applications comprise automatic water-mist nozzles mounted at ceiling level throughout a facility and connected to a dedicated pipe network and water supply. For the low fire loads found in typical high-rise buildings, water-mist nozzles and systems require relatively small quantities of water, which in turn enables small-bore piping to be used with reduced capacity pumps and water storage tanks. Water-flow alarms provide signals that a system is in operation and indicate the area in which it is operating. The direct and immediate suppression of fire at its source removes the need for the evacuation of occupants away from the immediate vicinity of a fire and allows time for the fire service to organise and manage a response to deal with any residual fire issues. Water-mist nozzles operate at higher water pressures than automatic sprinklers, as higher pressures are needed to generate the small water droplets. The low water flows of water-mist nozzles are, in part, achieved by reduced nozzle orifices, so water-mist piping systems are constructed using corrosion-resistant materials to avoid nozzle blockage. Whilst water-mist fire-fighting technology has been in use since the 1990s, a US Code for water mist firefighting systems has existed since 1997. British Standards for the engineering of Water Mist systems were originally published as ‘Drafts for Development’ as DD8458 in 2010 and DD8489 in 2011. In response to concerns over the lack of progress in European Water Mist standards development, The BSI Watermist Working Group actioned the creation of British standards for water mist systems to reflect the current best engineering practice. BSI has subsequently published BS8489-1:2016 Fixed fire fighting systems – Commercial and industrial water mist systems – Part

Ultra-fast detection and suppression A system that can detect and suppress fires in as little as three seconds and that is designed for use in high-risk spaces has been certified by the Danish Fire Laboratories. The quick suppression system (QSS) from Firefly combines ultra-fast detectors with water mist. It is designed for the quick detection and suppression of fires around critical machinery or high-risk areas. Its deployment avoids or significantly reduces damage and production downtime as well as prevents a fire from spreading. The Firefly QSS can be used in various applications including the protection of converting machines, dryers, planers and sanders, presses, oil pump rooms, shredders, conveyors and transformers. Although similar in design to a spark detection system in that it combines detection, extinguishing and a control panel, the QSS is designed to detect and extinguish fires/ flames at a very early stage rather than detect and extinguish ignition sources. Firefly’s QSS passed the tests set out in Danish Fire Laboratories’ in-house developed test protocol TM170307-1261 – Quick suppression systems for certain high-risk areas typically found in industry applications. The nine tests specified in the test protocol were carried out at DFL’s premises in Svendborg in April this year and were witnessed by several insurance companies, said Firefly. The test protocol is based on CEN/TS 14972:2011, Appendix B, with full fire tests for both solid fuels and liquid fuels. It specifies a maximum allowed response time of five seconds for most of its tests, which all involve heptane and a preburn of one minute. According to Firefly, it is the first company to pass the tests specified in DFL’s protocol.

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1 Practice for design and installation. BSI has also published BS8458-1:2015 Fixed fire fighting systems – Residential and domestic water mist systems – Part 1: Code of practice for design and installation, but this is limited in application to rooms over 80m2. Both standards were published with supporting fire test protocols. Of specific relevance for high-rise occupancies is BS8489-7 – Fire performance tests and requirements for water mist systems for protection of low hazard occupancies. Unlike other fire-fighting systems, individual water-mist system designs, covered by parts 1 of BS8458 and 8489, are determined by the results of representative fire tests for the hazards to be protected using the specific water-mist nozzles. The design and performance of water mist nozzles vary from manufacturer to manufacturer so, in order to use any particular nozzle for a hazard application, a manufacturer needs to pass a relevant fire test. The test reports should be readily available for those considering their use. Whilst the British Standards for water-mist fire-fighting systems set out the general requirements for the engineering and testing of such systems, the industry recognises that high-rise applications require specific and special consideration due to the problems of fire-fighting access and evacuation. The Fire Industry Association (FIA) has published Additional requirements for water mist systems protecting high-rise buildings to provide requirements where the height difference between the highest and lowest water-mist nozzles exceeds 45m. These requirements are supplementary to those set out within BS 8489 series or an equivalent recognised water-mist standard. The design of automatic water-mist nozzle systems (as well as sprinklers) bases the sizing of pipework and pumps on an ‘assumed maximum area of operation’ based upon the fire hazard. For high-rise buildings, the Guide requires this to be increased to 216m2. This provides contingency for prolonged protection being required before fire service intervention. The Guide requires that the facility is divided into zones with no more than 200 automatic water-mist nozzles per zone or 2,400m2 – whichever is lesser; the building should be water mist protected throughout, and any water-mist zone should only cover one floor (including mezzanine of no more than 100m2). The system should have at least a single water supply with enhanced availability. Single water supplies with enhanced availability are regarded as superior because of their higher degree of reliability. These include a public water supply system with one or more pump modules, which is fed from two sides, each side able to satisfy the pressure and flow rate requirements of the building; and pump suction tank(s) which can hold the entire amount of water required. The pump system must include at least one additional pump module as redundancy, and the use of a booster pump is not allowed. The power supply to the pumps should be also be provided from two independent sources. These can be public networks, diesel engines, or backup power generators. An additional consideration is that water-mist protection for high-rise buildings should be carried out in consultation with the stakeholders, including authorities having jurisdiction, fire and rescue services and insurers; special considerations such as combustible external cladding, and any fire strategy for the premises, should also be examined. Water-mist systems, when engineered to current British Standards and industry guidelines, can provide effective protection of both life and property for high-rise occupancies. Whilst they use water, as do automatic fire-fighting sprinkler systems, their delivery of water in small droplets provides unique and highly effective cooling and fire suppression.

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09/08/2017 16:43


detection

Visions of safety Optical flame detection may have become a common feature in high-risk facilities, but how well is the science behind it understood? Nicolas Uschanoff provides an introduction and outlines the main considerations for its effective installation.

T Nicolas Uschanoff is engineering department manager, Tyco Gas & Flame Detection

UV and IR-type flame detector installed at hazard area of oil and gas offshore platform. (Photo: Mr PK/ Shutterstock)

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he selection of the most appropriate flame detector should be reliant on a number of factors, including location, the type of fire, the working environment, the response time and the distances covered. Optical flame detection is among the most reliable and fastest methods of detection for outdoor environments or in large spaces and is based on radiation emitted by the flames in ultraviolet (UV), visible (Vis) or infrared (IR). The combustion of a hydrocarbon flame generates, in particular, CO2 and water in an excited state, where the return to the fundamental state of these molecules occurs through the emission of photons at specific wavelengths. In the emission spectrum of flames, there are also some bands characteristic of their signature, including a ‘bump’ in the ultraviolet radiation around 200 nanometers; and a visible and near-infrared part between 0.4 and 3 microns that is more or less intense, depending on the fuel. Another signature used to distinguish a flame from background radiation is of a temporal nature. When a flame burns naturally in surrounding air, it flickers randomly in contrast to artificially combusted flame that doesn’t flicker, as is the case with a Bunsen burner. Its radiation is then typically modulated in the band from 1 to 20Hz, which can enable efficient pre-filtering of the signal received by the detectors. Optical flame detectors are designed with one or more optical radiation sensors and can be configured on UV, IR, a combination of both, or multiple infrared bands (multi IR). UV detectors only react to UV radiation waves less than 300 nanometers. The sensor, a photo-tube, includes a cathode and an anode placed in a large potential difference of around 300 volts and sealed in a quartz tube filled with inert gas. Illuminated by ultraviolet radiation, the photons striking the cathode release electrons that are drawn toward the anode. The electrons - energy carriers – ionise the gas molecules contained in the bulb, creating a chain reaction. The detector then generates an output signal. This type of detector, sometimes used for flammable liquid fires such as hydrocarbon fires, is one of the few to detect hydrogen, ammonia and metal fires. It can reach a sensitivity of up to pico watt/cm² and offer a very fast response time of hundreds of milliseconds or less. However, its detection capacity is attenuated in the presence of smoke. Thus, a fuel fire in a closed environment may not be detected by a UV sensor if it does not ‘see’ the flames relatively early. In addition, as the UV radiation is absorbed by any oily films potentially deposited on the detector window, or by

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certain organic compounds present in the environment, its detection sensitivity can be limited. Finally, it is sensitive to electric arcs, X-rays and lightning storm, which can generate false alarms. Infrared detectors in general consist of a pyroelectric sensor that detects thermal radiation and which is sensitive to variations of the received light signal. A lithium/tantalum crystal is associated with a field effect transistor or an OP amp. A wavelength or specific spectral band (eg 2.9μm, 4.3μm, 4 to 5μm) is selected for an optical filter which acts as a spectral gate. Random flickering emitted by the flame in the infrared band is then perceived by the crystal, generating a signal that is processed by a low-frequency band pass filter (1-20 Hz) before being interpreted by a microprocessor. Current components have good signal-to-noise ratios, which allow significant amplification factors and therefore very good sensitivity to radiation from the flame. Efficient on fires with a low burn rate (eg gasoil) and in smoky environments, the infrared detector is however sensitive to aqueous environments (eg fog) as well as many interfering infrared sources present in the environment, which may overlap the signals that required detection. To guard against this strong sensitivity and avoid false alarms, it is now common to select multi-IR technology, which uses several sensors in one device. In addition, due to the reliability of the sensing components involved, IR based flame detector usually has a better mean time before failure (MTBF) than the one involving UV components. While the combination of UV and IR technologies provides excellent rejection of false alarms and good detection distance, these detectors, however, do suffer from the combined limitations of infrared and ultraviolet detectors. A combined UVIR detector that uses a performant UV sensor is limited, in terms of detection range, by the infrared part. Indeed the IR sensor is curbed to maintain a ‘reasonable’ activation of the IR chain by the surrounding thermal background. However, additional information in IR band through a second sensor increases the gain of the detector’s amplification chains, therefore also increasing the detection range while maintaining good immunity to false alarms. Today, the market is clearly oriented towards multi-IR detectors that remove the UV and multiply information in the IR domain. Most of these devices rely on the CO2 IR band at 4.4 microns. Some, however, do use the H2O IR band of 2.9 microns to detect hydrogen or ammonia fires. Multi-IR detectors usually have longer detection range while

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detection

maintaining a very low rate of false alarms. They are also insensitive to attenuations related to fumes and oil vapours as well as interference sources such as lightning or welding arcs. Again, the idea here is to increase the gain of the amplification chain and choose the wavelength and appropriate signal treatments. It is common to use three infrared detectors in three different spectral bands, and reaching detection ranges from 40 to 80m on standard heptane standardised fires, even when the environment is full of interfering infrared sources. Detection via imaging is also used for flame detection, based on image processing issued from CCD (charge-coupled device) matrices. Limited to the visible range for a long time, some models now operate infrared matrices with a spectral filter similar to the one used on traditional multi-IR detectors in order to improve the sensitivity to fire. Although generally more limited in terms of detection range, one of their major advantages is their good treatment of ‘friendly fire’, which enables the elimination of flare reflection on metallic elements found in many industrial sites. The limitations of imaging detectors are, however, intrinsic to the visible method, with a reduction of efficiency in case of smoky fires or of very low emissive fires, such as hydrogen. So, what’s next? There are several potential areas for future development in flame detectors devices. These include the implementation of more sophisticated signal processing algorithms that are based on multi-IR technologies with three or more sensors; multi-spectral infrared imaging through cameras able to reach the infrared range in the appropriate spectral bands; and implementation of semiconductor components in the UV range instead of discharge tubes. From a strictly metrological point of view, optical flame detectors have certain particular features. The concept of sensitivity, in particular, is more difficult to grasp than for a gas sensor, and it is necessary to clearly identify the various factors that affect it. Fuel is a factor because all combustions do not generate the same amount of CO2 or H2O molecules. A methanol fire is, for example, less emissive than a heptane fire. Size of the fire is also significant because, geometrically speaking, the amount of signal received by the detector from the fire decreases as the square of the distance between them. And finally, if the nozzle diameter of a gaseous fire is not large enough, the input must be completed by information related to flow or flame height. The response time usually decreases with the distance between the fire and the device and varies significantly from one technology to another. UV detectors are generally faster than IR detectors, with response times ranging from less than one second to 30 seconds, depending on the type of fire, device technology and manufacturer. The positioning of devices is crucial because it affects the detector’s cone of vision. Manufacturers give values between 90° and 120° on the horizontal axis, sometimes less on the vertical axis due to the optical elements necessary for self-test. One must keep

The cone of vision is crucial for the positioning of devices; sensitivity to a fire is not constant over its entirety.

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in mind that the sensitivity to a fire is not constant over the entire extent of the cone of vision. The detection range is reduced when it moves away from the optical axis, and there is even a very rapid fall at the edge of the cone. Generally, vision angles are given for half-distance sensitivity limit versus the one obtained on the optical axis. It is, therefore, appropriate to take this value into account in the definition of an installation. False alarm immunity is a very important parameter because the financial consequences can be significant in case of accidental activation of the extinguishing system. The devices offered by industry leaders generally have very good immunity with regard to false alarms. These manufacturers provide a list of evaluated sources including the type of source tested (eg halogen lamp, tungsten, welding arc); the test parameters (eg power, distance); whether the source is modulated or not; and if the device triggers an alarm in these conditions or not. During installation one still has to keep in mind that the presence of a parasitic source in the device field of view (if multi IR), such as modulated infrared source in the case of sunlight through vapours, even if it cannot trigger alarm, nevertheless constitutes an important background radiation that can reduce the sensitivity of the device. The choice of the most suitable technology for an application can be assisted by a number of criteria. For a fuel that does not contain hydrocarbon molecules the most suitable device would be a detector configured on UV or H2O emission-based infrared. The detection range is generally lower than for multi-IR versions for hydrocarbon fuels. If the risk source is at a very long distance and/or is small, multi-IR versions that achieve the best sensitivity should be selected. For a working area with a closed environment in which smoke will quickly accumulate or in which there may be some vapours, aromatic/nitrogenous/chlorinated compounds or derivatives from butane or ethane, one should avoid using UV versions because this band is highly attenuated by these particles or vapours. For an outdoor area, UV technology on its own is risky because of its sensitivity to a number of relatively intense UV sources, as well as the fact that UV can be reflected on all types of surfaces. If the coverage area contains hot equipment with opportunities for strong air convection and possible CO2 presence, it is preferable to use UV technology (UV, UVIR, UVIR²) to improve resistance to false alarms. If the alarm must be triggered very quickly (<1 sec), the risk area must be covered at a short distance or through the use of potentially faster UV technologies. As regards installation, the device’s cone of vision should cover the area to be monitored, preferably with recoveries between detectors. Where devices are usually installed in a high place, it is important to note the presence of a ‘shadowed’ area below the detector. IR detectors should not be fixed to pipework that could potentially sway in strong winds, leading to a background signal that could interfere with the detection. It should be noted that the majority of optical flame detectors allow the user to adjust their sensitivity as well as the time delay before outputting an alarm, according to the type of risk being monitored and the environment. Sensitivity adjusts the maximum distance at which a given fire generates an alarm. The temporisation is the time (in seconds) during which the unit must receive a continuous fire signal before giving an alarm. Concluding, choosing the right flame detector should be based on a thorough analysis of the location and the risk. The type of fire we want to detect; the type of working environment; the response time expected; and the distances that we need to cover. Secondly, the installation must be properly configured as regards device location, control panel voting function, adjustment of sensitivity and time delay settings, and functional tests.

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Photo © Siemens

detection

Festival spirit

The major project underway to modernise the theatres and performance venues in the historical city of Salzburg also includes their fire safety systems.

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ver 1,800 automatic and nearly 180 non-automatic fire detectors are now in place at the Mozart House and Felsenreitschule theatres while work continues apace in the main venue of the festival, the Great Festival Hall. The Austrian city of Salzburg, around 300km west of Vienna, is famous for an annual classical music and drama festival that takes place for five weeks from the end of July. In 2016, over 259,000 visitors from 81 countries attended 192 performances in 14 venues during the summer event. Founded in 1920 by theatre director and producer Max Reinhardt, the Salzburg Festival has grown into an international cultural event that has hosted major artists including Toscanini, Böhm and von Karajan. The festival’s facilities are currently being fitted with a combination of sophisticated fire detection technology, evacuation systems, building automation, sound systems, stage management equipment and access control. The main fire control panel, which is situated in the Great Festival Hall, is a Sinteso FC 2080, the latest generation product range from Siemens. A subpanel of the same range is installed in the Felsenreitschule theatre, while the Mozart House theatre contains an older generation Sigmasys subpanel. As the Sinteso range is backwards compatible, there are no issues in relation to connectivity. The fire detection system consists of different detector types from diverse product generations, up to the most recent Sinteso multiple-protocol detectors with advanced signal analysis (ASA) technology. There are currently over 1,800 automatic and nearly 180 non-automatic fire detectors installed throughout auditoriums and stage areas in various performance venues. According to Siemens, this will be further extended to 3,000 Sinteso fire detectors, for the most part with ASA technology, and 1,000 Sigmasys fire detectors, over the next five years. The fire detection system is complemented by a voice evacuation system that enables

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exit instructions to be issued to attendees during an emergency. Completing the safety circle is an access control system that ensures only authorised entry into the festival halls in real time. The Siport NT VAS issues an impressive 7,000 photo ID cards every summer in Salzburg, and the cards are also used for time tracking and cashless payments in the cafeteria. At the heart of the sophisticated integrated system is a specially designed customisable control console with a touch-screen interface that is operated by the festival stage manager and which connects to a network of cameras. The system, which primarily provides video feed and technical information relating to performances, also provides fire alerts from the fire detection system, enabling the stage manager to quickly contact first responders as well as initiate an evacuation over the separate public address system. Systems from Siemens also control the interior temperature and humidity in the theatres. In the case of the Great Festival Hall, the climate-control system uses the Alm River that flows under the city to maintain a temperature of 23°C and a humidity of 55% in the concert hall. An automation system controls the ventilation system for all the theatres, supplying fresh air continuously and quietly. The installation of all the systems are now complete at the Mozart House and Felsenreitschule theatres; work is continuing at the Great Festival Hall and is expected to be finished by 2022.

ISO STANDARD FOR VIDEO The video fire detection market is set to reap the benefits of the publication of the first ISO technical specification for video fire detectors. ISO/TS 7240-29:2017, Fire detection and alarm systems – Part 29: Video fire detectors, specifies requirements, test methods and performance criteria for video fire detectors operating in the visible spectrum. Until now, there had been no comprehensive international specification for video fire detectors and ISO/TS 7240-29 provides the first platform for international acceptance of a uniform specification. Facility owners insurers and manufacturers are expected to benefit from the new standard. Isaac Papier, Convenor of ISO subcommittee ISO/TC 21/SC 3, explained: “Often, in a large industrial facility, VFDs are the only viable solution. Unfortunately, without the existence of a published international standard, owners and insurance carriers were hesitant to rely on this solution without a comprehensive international standard. “The new ISO/TS 7240-29 provides owners and insurance carriers with the international consensus metrics for performance of VFDs. The manufacturers will benefit because the existence of the technical specification gives users and specifiers the confidence to include VFDs in their fire protection schemes, creating a market for these products. For manufacturers, the technical specification provides a design specification for building the products.” VFD systems built in accordance with the new standard will be expected to function in the event of a fire as well as during – and after – exposure to real-life conditions such as corrosion, vibration, direct impact, indirect shock and electromagnetic interference.

< INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL < third quarter 2017 Read our e-magazine at www.hemmingfire.com


fire pumps and controllers

Just connect

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rocter & Gamble is examining a range of technologies covering wireless gauges, fire door monitoring and drones as part of a project that aims to deliver a smart fire system, delegates heard at the NFPA’s recent annual conference and exhibition in Boston, US. The Fireconnect project began with identifying everything that could be digitised and be made smart, explained Christina Francis, global fire protection director at Procter & Gamble. Current inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) practices were questioned, she explained, and the possibility of linking the fire system to the building management system in the future was considered. The starting point for making the fire system smart began with the fire pump, the core of the fire suppression system. The team already knew that gathering data for the ITM system could make it smarter from a predictive standpoint. Under a previous project, authoritative data on diesel-driven engine pumps had been collected, which had proved analytically that weekly testing was beneficial. Francis outlined current standard practice for understanding a site’s hydraulic system, which typically requires physical inspection. The relevant information may be in a file, but normally to find the information requires walking to a particular riser, somewhere in a large site, where the information may not even be visible due to rust. In the context of a smart system, a barcode on the riser would enable all that information to be pulled out digitally. “Similarly, to find out if a system has pressure, one has to walk to the system and read a gauge; this in the context of a plant where almost everything else is measured wirelessly,” explained Francis. This situation is no different with one of the most important parts of the fire system, the diesel-driven engine. “If that driver is not driving the pump, then inadequate flow and pressure are being delivered to the system to control the fire,” said Francis. “Today, to ascertain whether there is sufficient cooling water or

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Fire safety will be revolutionised when data collection and smart fire systems go hand in hand, reports Jose Sanchez de Muniain.

whether the fuel tank is full, a trained pump operator is required in the pump room during an incident.” Cooling water is a particularly good example because, if lost during engine operation, the engine will not survive. “Is the heater operating in the pump room, preventing frozen pipes? And the exhaust system for the diesel engine? Is the jockey pump running? What are the section discharge pressures and flow rates?” Francis added that questions such as these can only be answered by taking a bricks-and-mortar approach, and walking to a room that is usually detached from the main site. Another issue relates to the changing nature of personnel at a site. Pump operators that historically had been very well trained are no longer prevalent, and the norm today involves staff who probably have ten other responsibilities in addition to the fire operator’s role. “Sometimes it may be the guards that attend, guards that may not even have English as their first language, where everything on the engine is in English,” she pointed out. Looking further down the line, during an incident, it is currently not possible to provide the fire department with basic information such as whether fire doors are open or closed. “There is no reason why fire doors could not be monitored remotely or even be dropped remotely, preventing smoke and heat spread should personnel not drop them as they evacuate the building." To begin addressing some of these issues, P&G installed Grundfos’ Fireconnect fire pump monitoring system in pump house number two in its site in Greensboro, Carolina. Fireconnect is a smart fire system that provides real active data of what is happening. “It monitors what the jockey pump control panel monitors and provides data that behind the scenes could be trending different things. It shows the number of starts and stops of jockey pump; how long it ran for, whether it ran for longer than normal. The data can be used to detect trends and enables the owner to be more predictive with maintenance.” A flow meter in the section line of the fire pumps provides

The smart system pulls together information related to the fire pump, fire detectors, fire doors, hydrants, sprinklers, manual pull stations and even incident command

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measurements in real time, enabling fire pump test results to be seen at any time, including electronic data of the water flowing back to the tank. Some of the benefits P&G has experienced by remotely monitoring pressure system and receiving hydraulic data, outlined Francis, include knowing whether a system is being over-pressurised or whether a relief valve requires checking: “If pressure on the loop is being measured, but the supply gauge is off, for example, it could be an indication of a closed valve.” Perhaps the most significant potential benefit of this smart fire system relates to the incident command part of an incident, explained Francis. “In theory, smart analysis of the data could lead to an indication of the size of the fire, the quantity of water remaining in the tank and the minutes of water left – all invaluable data for the fire department.” With a smart fire system it would be possible to ascertain whether or not a fire was being controlled; a system that has been flowing 500 gallons per minute for 20 minutes usually indicates that the sprinklers have control of the fire. Similarly, a smart fire system monitoring smoke detectors could indicate whether smoke has moved onto different floors. “What if it were possible to see that the diesel engine was starting to fail?” asked Francis, adding: “All these are areas that would enable responders to make educated decisions on arrival on site as well as during an incident.” While P&G’s project so far only covers the fire pump system, there are other aspects that the company is working towards. Installing a solenoid valve system on the sprinkler system with a flow meter would enable the system to be monitored in real time, and even allow testing to be carried remotely, rather than paying a third party to open a valve. Other initiatives that would save time and effort would be the capability of pulling data from smoke and flame detection systems, as well as fire door activation sensors, into the incident command system. Even hydrants could come into the system: knowing the water flow pressure on the main system would mean that a hydrant could be opened without having to first fit a pitot gauge. All this smart data would help in one of the key goals of assisting and improving incident command response, said Francis, where typically the primary data required on arrival is whether the pump is running and the identification of the risers in alarm. The use of augmented reality is another technology that is being picked up in other industries but has yet to make its presence felt in the fire sector. “Why not use it as part of inspection and maintenance? A piece of equipment could be scanned for data, rather than looking through a manual.” Pre-fire plans could be virtualised, showing the location of a fire and even what the area looked like before, with hazards included, she added. Looking toward the future, Francis admitted that the pressure gauge example was ‘simple stuff’.“But we have to start somewhere. Next is to find a way of expanding this technology so that it helps everyone, from commanders to owners, as well as connecting it all together into the big data world of ITM management.” The NFPA is beginning to address connectivity and guidance. A slight change to NFPA 20 2016 (Standard for the installation of stationary pumps for fire protection), Index C, refers to fire pump controller connectivity, “Which is good because it doesn’t help me if everyone has different systems that cannot be tied together. As a building owner, I want to keep things simple. We also have NFPA 25 2017 (Standard for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems), Annex F, which focusses on the collection of inspection, test, maintenance and monitoring data. Although these are non-enforceable at the moment, but future editions could incorporate them into the enforceable part.” There are many things that could be done relatively easily to make a fire system intelligent, said Francis: “In the next few weeks we are looking at different technologies covering wireless gauges and fire door monitoring, as well as the use of drones for carrying out visual inspections. Data is just data; it’s not smart, but once it is gathered it could be made to think, and that is our goal. It is all a question of how to get that data versus just waiting for something to happen.”

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fire pumps and controllers

Fireconnect

The wireless connection capability that is being pioneered by Procter & Gamble and Grundfos could be present in all new NFPA fire pump installations in the next five years.

O

nce the current pilots are complete, the technology will be on offer to the entire marketplace in 2018. The idea to connect the fire pump to the cloud began with an internal competition to improve service level agreement delivery at pump manufacturer Grundfos’ headquarters in Denmark, in 2013. With the help of US consultancy The Montembeault Group, who had previously carried out a pilot with a similar concept in Fresno, California, the idea was then further developed: “Through the third quarter of 2013 we carried out a lot of customer discovery. We basically went to a customer base that included fire pump distributors, sprinkler contractors, insurance companies and the NFPA, and we started asking questions such as: ‘If you could have any kind of information, what would you really like to have?’” explains technical and business consultant Karen Montembeault. The audience, says Montembeault, was extremely receptive and even came up with additional information that should be included in the web-based Fireconnect app. “The offering has been driven by customer discovery. It wasn’t conceived by an engineering department but purely by the customer base,” adds Karen’s business partner Roger Montembeault. One of the persons approached was Christina Francis of Procter & Gamble (see p53-54): “She’s global leader in fire for Procter & Gamble as well as an industry leader, and it happened that she was thinking along similar lines, to the extent that she wanted to encourage P&G to come up with something like it,” adds Karen Montembeault. Procter & Gamble has not only become a co-developer in the technology but, with the enthusiasm of Francis, has taken the vision beyond the fire pump, explains Sead Bajrovic, strategy consultant, digital transformation, at Grundfos. “Francis has taken it into incident command to help fire brigades, and even further towards the overall picture of fire protection, and what can be done with the data in the cloud.” The extraction of the data from the cloud and its visual representation in a meaningful and useful format to end users has been a major challenge, admits Bajrovic. “While the data side is the interesting side and the value added part, it is getting the right data out of it in the right format and in a holistic view in

The type of information provided by Fireconnect, including how it should be presented on the screen, has been shaped by Grundfos' customers.

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the app that is the most challenging,” he remarks. That part, however, has been overcome and the final package, says Roger Montembeault, is nearly ready to go.“But we are holding the horses back until we have everything internally right to our satisfaction and minor bug fixes taken care of.” In addition to the challenges presented by the interface and app, security has also been a major issue for the project, perhaps unsurprising bearing in mind the conservative nature of the fire industry. Roger Montembeault, a member of NFPA 20’s technical committee, remarks that this is one of the main issues under consideration. “The committee is OK for the most part in sending data to the cloud, and bringing it down. However, they want it to be read-only; they do not want anyone to have the opportunity to remotely access those devices. The current NFPA fire pump standard allows the ability to remotely start a fire pump with a wired system, although it does not allow a system to be stopped remotely. So we’ve been careful not to do anything that would concern the committee.” NFPA 20 was last revised in 2016 with the next revision due in 2019.“We are working right now on that standard to take the connectivity aspect and move it from the appendix, the information section, to the main body of the standard, where it becomes mandatory. If it doesn’t make it to the 2019 edition of the standard I’ll be quite surprised,” says Roger Montembeault. Bajrovic predicts that within five years all new NFPA-compliant fire pumps will have this capability, and Roger Montembeault believes other standards such as LPCB and VdS will follow. For the remaining part of this year, Grundfos will be concentrating on finalising the solution with P&G, as well as sharing the concept with companies in other industries. “We are getting good feedback from oil and gas companies and some others industries. But our main focus now is to make this work with P&G, and scale that with them before making it available to the entire market,” says Bajrovic. Bajrovic is keen to point out that although Grundfos is ahead of the development curve, he wants the industry to move forward together with this solution.“We want our technology to work with every other pump and we want to work the technology as a standardised platform for the whole industry, not just those parts owned by Grundfos.” Part of the ongoing challenge is convincing other organisations to partner with Grundfos to the extent that their specialist equipment can be integrated too.“It’s well beyond the pump, it’s about the complete fire protection and security of a facility. We welcome collaboration across the industry,” says Bajrovic.

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Integral to safety The challenges of achieving fire safety with LNG cover not just product certification but also environment, engineering, installation, inspection, risk assessment and management, write Nikola Stoyanov and Jifeng Yuan.

T

he increasingly likely scenario in the hydrocarbon industry of a cryogenic leakage followed by a fire is under-represented in standards, and is currently confined to separate standalone tests. The starting point for fire safety evaluation will always focus on the evidence of fire testing within the elements of construction in accordance with a range of relevant standards, such as EN 1363 for hydrocarbon fires and ISO 22899 for jet fires. However, these individual fire resistant elements come into their own in harsh and hazardous offshore and onshore environments. Therefore, the assessment of the entire structure requires stability when exposed to these environmental factors, and it is particularly important that the individual fire safety products still function and

fulfil their original fire protection tasks after lifetime environmental exposure within the context of the whole structure. With appropriate assessment and relevant product certification, a product can be trusted to deal with a particular application. In recent years the oil and gas industry has increased its attention towards natural gas and the large, isolated reservoirs that require transport via ships. To allow the transportation to be carried out the natural gas is cooled to cryogenic temperatures (-160°C) and liquefied to produce liquefied natural gas. The new challenge here is that the performance of a fire safety product is not just determined by the product performance in the fire testing and approval processes. Protection materials used for hydrocarbon fires are composed

The LNG terminal in Swinoujscie, Poland. (Photo: Mike Mareen/ Shutterstock)

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passive fire protection

Nikola Stoyanov is certification engineer and Jifeng Yuan is chief engineer and industrial supervisor at Exova Warringtonfire

of numerous polymer chains and they obtain the characteristics of glass at sufficiently low temperatures, including its hardness and brittleness. In the event of a leakage of the cryogenic LNG, the fire protection can be damaged because cracks can easily form and propagate. The resultant fractures will weaken the fire protection system before the ignition of the natural gas has occurred and subsequently reduce the fire resistance performance. With this in mind, methodologies such as ISO 20088 (Determination of the resistance to cryogenic spillage of insulation materials) need to be used to simulate thermal stresses and the deterioration damage that can occur in a real leakage scenario, to obtain the cryogenic performance of the product. The performance of the protection system is also largely determined by the quality of the installation process. It is vital that the installation strictly complies with the manufacturer’s instructions and has been tested and approved. For example, in LNG facilities the main structure or pipes can be subject to significant thermal expansion or contraction during operation or accidental leakage, which can lead to significant thermal stress and failure if the installation of the protection system deviates from the designed specification. Given the complexity of the installation of most fire safety products, installation by competent contractors is essential, particularly in order to maintain the product’s integrity and warranty. Regular inspection is also crucial to identify deterioration or damage so that remedial work can be carried out promptly to maintain a continued level of protection. It is especially critical in cryogenic applications as the leakage might not lead to a fire, but cracks in the coating can form, which will compromise the structural integrity of the coating for future damage against fire and explosions. The extent of any damage can normally be identified and

assessed through routine risk assessment. This requires a robust risk management system which covers: identification of the fire safety element; determination of the criticality of each element; assessment of each anomaly noted; risk assessment; and allocation of urgency rating for remedial works. Anomalies in the fire safety system identified by inspections should be repaired based on the risk assessment specific to the location and evaluation of the damage. In the hydrocarbon industry, legislation and guidance in many parts of the world impose increasingly strict requirements on life safety products. However, a test method which captures the combined cryogenic and fire exposure which is likely to occur in the current trend of developments in the hydrocarbon industry is yet to be developed. Without such a rigorous testing methodology the physical behaviour of the exposure scenario – cryogenic leakage followed by a fire – is underrepresented by stand-alone tests such as the jet fire and separate cryogenic exposure tests. The fire/cryogenic testing standards do not explicitly address the concerns on safety of life or properties over the full lifetime of a structure. Over time a less conventional ‘engineering’ approach has increasingly been adopted in modern designs, bringing a challenge to the more fundamental fire safety designs. In order to ensure that a hydrocarbon fire safety system remains relevant to the needs of the oil and gas industry, the characteristics of integral fire safety need careful consideration. Central to good fire protection in engineering or safety specification is the use of genuine and appropriate product testing, assessment and certification. Robust testing within the overall production of industrial structures will ensure they remain fit for purpose, their fire safety elements are installed correctly and that over their lifetime they are managed well.

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Industrial Fire Journal 3rd Quarter 2017