Fire Protection

Update: Maintaining the Heart of the Fire Protection System - What is the condition of your fire pump?

Update: Maintaining the Heart of the Fire Protection System - What is the condition of your fire pump?

Learn the importance of a well maintained fire pump to providing adequate water supply when a fire sprinkler activates.

Eastern New York Nuke Plant Fire: Case Study

Eastern New York Nuke Plant Fire:  Case Study

A nuclear power plant in Eastern New York had a transformer fire, but fire sprinklers activated and extinguished it. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was there to bring the fire sprinklers back online after they saved the day.

Tesla to Build Virtual Power Plant in South Australia

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South Australian Energy Crisis

Just a few months after Tesla built the world's biggest energy storage with lithium-ion batteries in South Australia, they are building a virtual power plant.

South Australia is having an energy crisis.  The South Australia region has had many blackouts, and lack the energy needed to run the infrastructure adequately.

South Australia, in partnership with Tesla, plan to build a virtual power plant to solve their energy crisis.



Tesla and the Virtual Power Plant

Solar Plant.jpg

South Australia wants to build a 250MW virtual power plant.

How will they do it?

They will build solar panels and battery storage solutions onto homes.  It will start with 1,100 public housing properties.  From there, property owners can volunteer to add the solar panels and storage batteries to their homes.  If the trial continues, 24,000 houses will be added to the "virtual power plant."  The homeowners who volunteer their homes to be part of the grid get a significant discount on their electricity bill.  They can expect about 30% off their bill.



What makes solar panels and battery storage a virtual power plant?

The software.

The virtual power plant's software will decide when to store energy in the 13.5 Wh Powerwall, and when to sell it back to the grid.

Tesla will install the panels and battery solutions, but after that, a third party will take over and issue bills.

Basically, the panels and battery storage will be a distributed solar power plant that is run by software.



New Fire Protection Regulations for Energy Storage

litium ion battery energy storage.jpg

Laptops are exploding.  Phones are catching fire in pockets.  Lithium-ion batteries are more dangerous than anyone realized.  So, imagine the risk involved with an energy storage building filled with lithium-ion batteries.

 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is working on an update for NFPA 855 - the Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems.  The draft is available for public comment and is expected to be completed in 2020.

Related:  FAQ - Battery Energy Storage Facilities + Their Fire Hazards

Nationally, the NFPA 855 update will create a stricter requirement for fire protection of energy storage.  It might also add a cap on size for energy storage in enclosed spaces.  The committee dedicated to this project will "document fire prevention, fire protection, design, construction, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of stationary, mobile, and temporary energy storage systems," according to Energy Storage Systems Staff Liaison Brian J. O'Connor.  

 

The requirements will be more stringent than the current version.

Related:  3 Reasons to Outsource Your Fire Protection Specification Writing

Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) published the first safety standards in 2014, UL 9540.  UL 9540 is the backbone of NFPA and other organization's regulations for energy storage.

According to UtilityDive, "some stakeholders are already taking guidance from NFPA's developing standards.  While the standards are still in draft form, '2020 may be the landing spot for projects that are just starting development today,' said Davion Hill, Energy Storage Leader for the America's.



Fire Protection Products that Shouldn't Exist

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Sometimes you run across a product and think... that shouldn't exist.

This comes to mind.

However, the Flowbee is harmless.  A product that is fire protection related, but doesn't save lives is a whole other story.  

Below are three products that our F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems' employees have run across and instantly thought - that spells disaster.

1.  Fire sprinkler attached to a hose.

The SHS president, Daryl Bessa found this item at a home improvement store.  Fire sprinklers should not be attached to hoses.  The water pressure isn't adequate.  The design makes no sense.  Plus, it gives a false sense of security.

Related:  Strange Construction:  Three of the Weirdest Construction Stories You'll Find

2.  Jokester "Fire Alarm"

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"Pull in Case of Dark"

Let's say there was a fire, and this was on the wall (FYI - there is an attachment to put this on the wall).  It is smokey.  The lights have been cut.  You pull it, thinking that an alarm is going to go off.  Then, a light pops on.

This joke fire alarm could end up causing someone's death.

3.  Fire extinguisher/lighter/keychain

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Not only is this a keychain, it is also a lighter.  As an FYI, all you need to do is tap the handle of the extinguisher to light the lighter.  Do you keep your keys in your pocket?  I do.  It wouldn't take much more than a shift to start a fire in your pants.

What are some terrible products that you have seen on the market?  Let us know in the comments.

Cooling Tower Roundup: Everything to Know about Fire Sprinklers + Video

Cooling Tower Fire Protection (1).jpg

Cooling towers have an environment that makes fire sprinklers vulnerable to decay and failure.  However, cooling towers have fire hazards throughout the building.  PVC fill, FRP walls, fan stacks, fan decks, fan blades, louvers, partitions, and catch basins catch on fire regularly.

You can see a cooling tower fire in the video below.  There are very real hazards in these facility types.

Below you will find our most popular cooling tower articles to better understand the environment, risks, and how to keep your fire sprinklers working properly.

Cooling Towers:  The Perfect Atmosphere for Failure

Learn the causes of pipe deterioration in cooling towers.

Video:  Results of Microbial Induced Corrosion (MIC)

See a YouTube video of what MIC can do to a cooling tower.

The Ultimate Guide to Gas-fired Power Plants

Learn the fire hazards in each section of a gas-fired power plant, including detailed hazards in cooling towers (+ a hazard diagram!).

What are you biggest questions about cooling towers?  Comment below and let us know.  It may become our next blog post.

Avoid the Fire Sprinkler Freeze: 3 Reasons to Drain Drum Drips in Power Plants

If water sits in the pipe, the results are micro-biologically influenced corrosion (MIC), pipe scale, or ice..jpg

At power plants, dry pipe fire sprinkler systems can be found in outdoor or unheated areas of the power plant like transfer stations, crusher buildings, and conveyors.  To protect the fire sprinkler from freezing in cold months, plants should complete cold weather maintenance and inspections.

Dry-pipe fire sprinklers need to be pitched just right to avoid sitting water during tests.  If water sits in the pipe, the results are micro-biologically influenced corrosion (MIC), pipe scale, or ice.  During the cold months, ice forming in pipes is a real problem.

The water that sits in the dry-pipe will freeze and expand by 10%.  Once it warms up, the expanded ice melts and reveals micro-cracks.  The cracks will change the air pressure, causing the valve to trip.  The pipes will fill with water and the small crack will begin to leak and enlarge until it is gushing.

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How do you avoid frozen fire sprinkler pipes?

1.  Schedule due diligence inspections

This inspection should be scheduled before it gets too cold.  The inspector will ensure that the pipe is pitched perfectly.  If it isn't, they will re-pitch the pipe and install drum drips. 

2.  Drain drum drips weekly

Drum drips will need to be drained weekly to ensure  sitting water is removed.  Even a perfectly pitched dry-pipe fire sprinkler can get some sitting water.  Draining drum drips is essential.

3.  Complete trip tests on time

Dry-pipe fire sprinklers need to be tested regularly.  Because of the environment that these systems are in, the obstruction mentioned above - MIC, scaling, and ice - can be a real issue.  Dry-pipe fire sprinklers should have a trip test conducted every 3 years.

Keep power plants protected year round by maintaining your dry-pipe fire sprinklers.  Freezing fire sprinkler pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damage, but can be easily avoidable.  When winter is approaching, schedule due diligence inspections, drain drum drips weekly, and test your dry-pipe fire sprinklers on time.

Related:

 

 

 

 

 

California Residents Search for Renewable Energy Alternatives

California Residents Search for Renewable Energy Alternatives.jpg

Glendale, CA -- In Glendale, CA, there is currently a proposal to upgrade a natural gas power plant.  However, residents are fighting against it.  They are claiming that potential environmental impacts are being understated and a harder look needs to be taken toward sustainable alternatives.

A special meeting was held in Glendale with the water and power commission.  Consultants explained the potential impact from noise, hazardous materials, greenhouse gases, and other pollutants from re-powering the Grayson Power Plant.

A proposal to renovate the plant was brought up in 2015.  The plant serves 88,000 electric customers.  The proposal would make the plant more sustainable.

The proposal is to remove, rebuild, and replace seven of eight electrical generation units.  It's expected that is not fixed now, they will fail within the next ten years.

Residents are not too keen on this plan.

They say that the project is too expensive - $500 million, and is not environmentally friendly enough.

Dan Brotman, a Glendale Community College economics professor formed the Glendale Environmental Coalition.  He packed the room with supporters of renewable-energy alternatives.

"We are not a bunch of starry eyed environmentalists.  We're practical people, and we want them to syudy a real serious set of alternatives for the city.  We know it's going to have to be a complicated mix of [renewable and fossil-fuel solutions," Brotman said in a phone interview with L.A. Times.

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World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Set for Australia

solar power plant

Australia has approved the biggest solar thermal power plant in the world.  A 150-MW structure is set to be built in Port Augusta, Australia.

The project will provide 650 construction jobs for the local economy, and provide electricity needs for the state government.

The plant will begin being built in 2018, and will cost $510 million.  It is planned to be finished in 2020.

“The significance of solar thermal generation lies in its ability to provide energy virtually on demand through the use of thermal energy storage to store heat for running the power turbines,” said Wasim Saman, a University of South Australia Professor of Sustainable Energy Engineering.  “This is a substantially more economical way of storing energy than using batteries.”  As you may recall, Elon Musk offered to use Tesla batteries to help with the South Australia energy crisis.

Renewable energy sources account for more than 40% of the energy in South Australia.  Solar power is becoming more stable and reliable, and solar plants are cheaper to build than coal-fired power plants.

This will be the first large scale solar thermal generation plant in Australia; however, they have been successfully operating in Europe, USA, and Africa.

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3 Reasons to Outsource Your Fire Protection Specification Writing

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Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractors have a lot on their plates.  Writing a fire protection spec doesn’t need to be on their to-do list.  F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems has been writing fire sprinkler and fire protection specifications since 1979.  They know how to coordinate with insurance companies, AHJ’s, and building codes to write a spec that meets all of their needs.

Here are the top three reasons that outsourcing fire protection specification writing is the way to go.

1.     Power plants and other energy storage facilities are complicated.

Power plants don’t have the same hazards that a commercial facility might have.  On top of this, each part of the plant has different hazards that are unique and require different types of fire sprinklers and alarms.

 

2.     Insurance companies and AHJs don’t always agree on how to protect power plants.

Power plants and other facilities need to get approval from both their insurance company and the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).  Oftentimes, the two do not agree.  F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems is experienced in working with them to come to an agreement and write a specification that will meet everyone’s needs.

 

3.     We specialize in fire protection spec writing.

EPC contractors cannot specialize in everything. It would be in the EPC’s best interest to have a very detail-orientated fire protection specification to eliminate the need for contractors to include contingency money in their quotations. Bottom line; it saves the EPC money and there is no confusion or misinterpretation of the specification.   That is why fire protection specification writing should be outsourced.  If it is done incorrectly, it will slow down the progress of the project.  Instead, hire someone who specializes in writing fire protection specifications for power plants.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was recently contracted by an EPC to address issues that had occurred when they had tried to write the spec for a power plant.  Once we were hired, we did a site visit, and wrote a detailed specification.  The specification had everything that bidders would need, and the power plant was able to receive competitive, accurate bids.  Because F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems wrote the spec, the power plant saved money because they received accurate bids.  The next time they needed a fire protection spec written, they came to us first.  If power plants want to save money on their fire protection project, it starts with a detail-oriented, thorough spec.

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A Closer Look at Clean Agents

clean agents

Special hazards can be complicated when it comes to fire protection.  The property is not the only thing considered.  A very important element of fire protection is the assets that are inside the property.  We’re taking a closer look at when clean agents are the appropriate fire protection solution.

Answer these questions honestly:

1.     Can the items in the property be easily replaced?

2.     Can your company afford the downtime a fire would cause?

3.     Do you have redundant fire protection systems?

4.     Can the business still operation if the system goes down?

If you answered no to these questions, you need to take a closer look at your fire protection system to ensure that you are not only protecting the property, but also the assets INSIDE the property.

What is a clean agent?

Much like Halon 1301, clean agents inhibit the chemical interaction of free radicals and use a cooling effect to extinguish fires.  Clean agents reach the level to extinguish a fire in 10 seconds or less.  FM-200 is a clean agent and Halon replacement.  It is gaseous, leaves no residue behind, safe to use around humans, and is safe for the environment. 

See FM-200 discharge.

 

What are clean agent alternatives?

The main clean agent alternative is inert gas.  Inert gas removes oxygen from the fire triangle (heat source, fuel, oxygen), which extinguishes the fire.  While inert gas is effective in snuffing out a fire and is safe for the environment, it is deadly to humans.  It removes the oxygen from the space, so inert gas should only be used in a space that is enclosed and where people can easily evacuate.  Extra safety measure are taken when inert gas is used as the fire protection agent.

Inert gas is less expensive than a clean agent; however, storage cost is more for inert gas and additional safety measures need to be made for inert gas.

See an inert gas discharge.

 

What types of facilities should use a clean agent?

Clean agents are generally seen in battery storage areas, computer rooms, and control rooms with electronics.

FM-200 is a great alternative to traditional fire suppression when a vulnerable area needs to be protected from fire. 

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