Case Study - Nuclear Power Plant Fire

nuclear power plant fire protection

When a nuclear power plant had a transformer fire that stopped the presses, they called F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to get them back online quickly.

Writer: Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group


A Forced Outage Causes a Media Stir


In Eastern New York, an alarm blared on May 9, 2015.  A voice came over a loud speaker, “This is not a drill.  This is not a drill.”  Smoke poured from a GSU transformer that had failed and caught fire.  The fire sprinklers activated and extinguished the fire.  However, smoke was already pouring from the transformer that was no longer usable, causing a forced outage. 

A forced outage is when equipment is unavailable because of an unanticipated breakdown and an outage can’t be avoided beyond 48 hours.  If there are numerous forced outages in a year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) can change a nuclear plant’s ranking.  It was imperative that the plant got back online quickly.  They hired a well-known technology producer to replace the transformer.  This producer hired F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to protect the new transformer with custom fire sprinklers.   


Fast-paced with Quick Pivots


From the moment F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems got the call, it was an all hands on deck project. They got the call on a Friday morning.  The plant needed people that day to start planning, and, on top of the short notice, they needed a 10-man crew on site around the clock with a superintendent and foreman.

While this was going on, the design team had their own set of obstacles.  The plant had a spare transformer and a generic fire sprinkler design in place.  The lead designer for Moran on the project had to re-design the existing layout to accommodate the new transformer.

A last minute decision to add the alarm installation to the project increased the pressure on the already intense project.  An F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Alarm System Designer began work immediately on designing the detection and notification portion of the project.

Each of the designs needed to be completed, submitted to the owner, and approved quickly to support the installation.  A few impediments got in the way.  One, the isophase bus-duct design caused an adjustment with piping that wasn’t in the original design.  To incorporate these changes, extra materials needed to be procured but they were not readily available.  The technology producer, fabricator, and plant owner could not get the additional materials needed.  But through Moran’s national network of contacts, the extra material was found and delivered within hours.

The Stars Align

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems got the call in the morning, needed to man the job by that afternoon, and develop a design even as the installation crew commenced planning and layout. With the Moran Superintendent on site by Friday afternoon, his first requirement was manpower.  A ten-man crew needed to be on site day and night for the duration.  The Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669 had four people available in the immediate area, and got them on site quickly. The Moran Project Manager, contacted the Local 669 Assistant Business Manager on Saturday night to assist him in finding the other six.  With Local 669’s help, we were able to find the rest of the men and get them on site the next day along with Moran’s Night Superintendent.

While that was taking place, the design team was working hard to get the designs completed and approved.  At 2am on Monday, a team from Moran arrived in New York.  By 4am, they were on site and being debriefed.  They worked with the technology producer and plant to get the final design approved.  From there, they began staging materials and planning the work. 

With the fast pace, the project could have gone off track quickly.  But due to an experienced and knowledgeable team, everything aligned and the project went off without a hitch. Any problems were solved quickly without delays to the final completion.  We were able to man the job, redesign the system, install it, start it up, and as-build the drawings while exceeding the clients’ expectations and solving the fire protection problem.

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