Municipal fire departments that have large industrial facilities within their protection area are faced with both significant challenges and tremendous resources. The challenges may include large quantities of flammable liquids and explosive materials, hazardous chemicals, located in hard to access locations. However, as helpful resources, many facilities maintain a well-trained fire brigade, large amounts of foam, additional specialty apparatus, and various fixed and remote master stream devices.
Departments that do have brigades located within their district should take time to get to know the brigade and their asset inventory. Joint training and pre-planning are key to preventing bad situations from becoming much worse. Yet even with stellar plant safety and excellent joint fire training, incidents at the site may occur. It is important to understand what to expect upon arrival and what firefighting strategies may be most effective.
When responding to incidents, there may be delays until the municipal fire department reaches the facility. Even large facilities may only have a few fire brigade members working a shift, so frequently everyone working at the facility is trained to flow at least some water or foam. Recognize that the process operator at the facility is often the most frequent first line of defense. During the time mutual aid is en route, the operator is shutting valves or activating protection controls and trying to keep any fire to its location of origin and limit any spread. Apparatus can play an important role in industrial firefighting and TFT manufactures a wide range monitors that flow from 50 l/m up to 30,000 l/min in manual and electric remote styles. However, for the purposes of this article, we will discuss fixed and portable monitors as important tools for industrial firefighting.
When an incident begins, quite often the incipient level fire brigade members are responsible for using stationary fixed station monitors to begin the initial stages of either throwing a foam blanket from drum tote stations on flammable liquids spills, or cooling assets inside the battery limit area to thwart subsequent issues. The fixed monitors are typically spaced by requirements within the sites engineering standards.
Flow rates are designed with hydraulic calculations, taking into consideration adequate piping sizes, placement of block valves, and hydrant locations, to resemble a looped water main system around process units.
Often, dedicated electrically driven pumps, typically designed with secondary back-up diesel engine driven pumps for emergencies, supply water to fixed monitors and sprinkler systems within the fire protection loop. Frequently, production departments also rely on the very same service water supply. This causes a level of difficulty when additional pressure or flow is needed to combat a fire, throw cooling water, or provide vapor suppression in the event of a gaseous release.
To help overcome pressure losses, TFT has released uniquely designed, highly innovative products with the lowest friction loss fixed monitors in the fire industry. The Monsoon Monitor delivers flow rates of 4732 l/m at pressure losses of about 4 bar, and flow rates of 7570 l/m with pressure losses at only about 1 bar. These monitors are the most energy efficient in the fire industry. Such pressure losses are about 50% less than many other brands’ losses at the same flow rates and pressures.
The important thing to remember is lower friction loss monitors have that much more energy available with fixed pressure systems to enhance reach and high quality fire streams.
Task Force Tips also manufactures a full line of industrial fire station monitors with and without shut off valves with flow rates from 2000 l/m through 30000 l/m with installation options for flanged pipe risers, fire hydrant monitor flanges, manifolds, mobile fire apparatus and quick attack vehicles. TFT Station Monitors also have a full complement of Automatic, Fixed Gallonage, Selectable and Self-Educting Nozzles.
Ground monitors are effective tools for fire brigades, as well as the incoming fire departments, and can be used in both offensive and defensive modes. They allow firefighters to operate from safe distances with effective streams for fire control, foam stream placement, and critical cooling water where needed. In addition, because they are mobile, the monitors can operate into areas that the fixed equipment often cannot reach.
Ground monitors can also be quickly deployed by just a few firefighters and moved as conditions change. In fact, by using portable monitors like TFT’s Blitzfire®, two firefighters can quickly accomplish the work previously completed by six to eight firefighters with regimented hose line teams flowing less water. All this is done while minimizing personnel exposures in the fire areas.
The TFT Blitzfire is a popular model with a flow rate of up to 2000 l/m and is useful even with limited staffing levels. It integrates an exclusive safety shutoff system that prevents unintentional movement during critical fire-ground operations. The base model’s attack angle (10 to 46 degree elevation) is perfect for directing a fire stream into any process unit, door or window opening during an initial attack. While the HE (high elevation) version provides an even higher 86 degree up elevation angle for tactical advantages, such as the ability to place a high-volume stream directly into an overhead, or reaching a pipe rack system that’s directly in front of the firefighter. Both versions are available with a unique water turbine design that drives the oscillating unit in a selectable 20, 30, or 40-degree sweeping motion. Higher volume portable monitors are also available up to 4500 l/min.
In a typical refinery or petrochemical facility, placement of fire hydrants and stationary monitors can be as close as every 60 meters. Placement at these intervals may be required by the sites engineering standards, insurance underwriters, and authorities having jurisdiction at the facility. However, in high-hazard process units, facilities will often implement closer spacing on hydrant and station monitor locations. This is because high-hazard process units typically have large negative financial consequences when conflagrations occur involving that equipment. However, often times the resultant catastrophic loss is due to interrupted production rather than equipment replacement costs.
Yet even with closely located hydrant and stationary monitors, there is a critical need to have readily available supplemental larger caliber equipment such as TFT’s Transportable Stationary Monitor, the Hemisphere™. This is a versatile, lightweight unit, and a quick to deploy portable monitor that gives the user the ability to establish water flow in locations that ground monitors cannot. Since the Hemisphere does not rely on gravity for stability, it can be pointed horizontal and down, in addition to up, unlike portable ground monitors. The rotating, swiveling waterway allows the stream to be pointed in virtually any direction, within a hemispherical range, without interrupting water flow. A variety of mounts provides the user the ability to quickly attach the monitor, and establish coverage on the fire ground, or in pre planned locations. Examples of mounts include the following:
- On an I-Beam: Use any I-Beam’s strength to attack a fire from any angle. One person can quickly attach the Hemisphere without any tools.
- On a Tank Lip: A single brigade member can clamp a tank lip from the gauging platform. The Hemisphere’s integrated safety feature locks the monitor to the base when it is flowing.
- On Scaffolding: Utilize safety rated scaffolding or handrails to position protection for hot work and other types of elevated protection.
- On a Bumper: Mount the monitor to a trailer hitch. Water pressurized pins prevent the monitor from rotating or releasing while flowing.
- On a Pole: Clamp to objects from 76 mm (3 in) to 0.6 meters (2 ft) in diameter.
By combining fixed, portable and apparatus based monitors, firefighters are best able to attack the challenges found at industrial facilities. Pre-planning and training with the facility fire brigade is an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and prepare for any incidents that will occur.
For more information, go to www.tft.com