Fire Protection

8 Dead, 100 Injured in Boiler Blast at Power Plant

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New Delhi -- A boiler exploded at the NTPC Power Plant in Uttar Pradesh and killed eight people and injured 100 people.

The number of dead and injured may rise.  Many of the injured received severe burns.

The injured are being treated at the NTPC campus hospital and another local hospital.  The worst burn injuries were taken to Lucknow hospitals.

The NTPC Power Plant had 5 units with 210 MW each.  The power plant started generating power in 1988.  A 6th unit was commissioned with 500 MW to be completed this year.  It is believed that the pipe burst at the 6th unit.

Get the latest news on the power plant fire here.

How do you protect boilers in power plants?  Find out here.

 

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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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Case Study - Stat-X System Protects CNC Machines

stat-x system

An industry-leading manufacturer turned to F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems for a fire protection solution that would protect their valuable equipment. When a fire occurred, the robust suppression system extinguished the fire before the delicate machinery could be damaged.

Seeking an Effective Fire Protection Solution for a High-Risk Environment

One of the industry's most established providers of specialized precision machined parts is headquartered in the Midwest, providing products to a worldwide customer base from their head office and manufacturing facility. Through the use of Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines, they provide parts and pieces from bar stock that are machined to exacting tolerances. Their manufacturing methods are highly efficient but there are also high-risk fire hazards associated with the process.

 

Because of the hazardous nature of their machinery, the manufacturer decided to implement a robust, cost-effective fire protection system that would protect lives and assets without causing damage to valuable electrical equipment. The manufacturer reached out to F.E. Moran Special Hazard systems to implement a comprehensive fire protection system, which included Stat-X aerosol fire protection systems, manufactured by FireAway, Inc.

Robust Protection without Damage to Sensitive Equipment

After performing a thorough analysis of the facility's fire protection needs, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems designed a comprehensive system that consisted of a dedicated, stand alone Stat-X Fire Protection Aerosol Generator and bracket, accompanied with a local fire alarm/releasing control panel with a local detection and release system. The Stat-X generator releases a fine potassium based aerosol that attacks a flame's free radicals, effectively slowing and extinguishing the fire. This was an ideal system for the application because the facility was afforded the peace of mind that their equipment would not only be safeguarded in the event of a fire, but additionally would not suffer any damage as a result of system discharge.

Overcoming Installation Challenges through Expertise and Experience

During the installation of the system, F. E. Moran encountered an obstacle that was related to the wiring of the CNC machines. Synchronizing the CNC shutdown wiring from the fire protection system's control to the point of interface was an intricate process, but F.E. Moran's experienced installers were able to navigate the wiring for an effective result. Upon completion of the installation, F.E. Moran performed thorough testing of the equipment to ensure that every aspect of the system would be fully operational in the event of a fire.

When Put to the Test, F.E. Moran's Systems Kept Equipment and Personnel Safe

In less than a year after the installation, the fire protection system was activated when a fire started in one of the CNC machines. The system's advanced detection system, which included sensitive Protectowire linear heat detection cable, sent a signal to the control panel at the first sign of the fire, which subsequently triggered the Stat-X system's discharge. 
It was critical that the detection system sensed the fire as soon as it ignited and it was essential that the control panel activated the system without delay because of the potential risks involved with the CNC machines. A key element to the manufacturing process is the cutting oil that CNC machines use to lubricate and cool the cutters and transport waste. These oils create an elevated risk for high intensity fires because of their flammability.

Beyond the hazards associated with the CNC machines, there were many intricate components of the equipment that were highly susceptible to fire damage. Within the machines there is control wiring to the internal parts of the system as well as an abundance of flexible plastic hoses that support the drilling and carving operations, carry cooling substances and lubrication elements.

Remarkably, the CNC machines endured the fire unscathed because of the effectiveness of the alarm/detection system and the Stat-X suppression system. Employees who were in the vicinity of the fire when it began indicate that it was a substantial event that had the potential for severe consequences. However, damage to the equipment was nonexistent because of the efficiency of the fire protection system. F. E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was able to replace the Stat-X generator and Protectowire cable within less than two working days, resulting in minimal downtime for the manufacturer.

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Case Study - Fire Protection for Coal Plant Transformers

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F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems used their expertise, resources and efficient project management to successfully install a comprehensive fire protection system for one of the most prominent power generating stations in the Midwest.

Experience, Expertise and an Established Network

In the heart of the Midwest lies an award-winning power generating station, which has generated millions of MWh of electricity since its coal units have been put into service in the 80's. When the plant decided to replace the deluge systems that were protecting four of their transformers, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was a natural candidate for the job because they had a previous working relationship with the plant's owner. Their past performance during preceding jobs with similar scopes and synergy with the owner's engineering group helped F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems secure the job, giving them the opportunity to deliver another quality solution for the esteemed power plant.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems' experienced designers used their expertise to meticulously perform all of the hydraulic calculations, ensuring that the system was discharging the appropriate amount of water in every aspect of the system. The team utilized their advanced AutoCAD-based system to design a robust fire protection system that was in accordance with the owner's specifications.

Having acquired an extensive network of fabricators throughout the country, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems immediately began working with a local trusted fabricator who was able to expedite the delivery of the pipe and fittings. Because the design called for exclusive items, such as pipes with special grooved fittings and other obscure parts to retrofit with existing components, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems had to tap in to their wealth of resources to obtain the parts in a timely manner.

 

An Effective Solution for Protecting Powerful Transformers

The team of skilled installers replaced four existing deluge valves that were associated with the facility's transformers. All of the existing deluge piping and supports around the transformers, including the pipe stands, were removed while retaining the current buswork protection system.

New piping was installed in a horseshoe header design, mounted above the top of the transformer shell and was supported by the steel blast fire walls. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems utilized Elkhart 1 ½" nozzles to provide the high level of coverage and flow density that is required to adequately protect transformers. The nozzles were positioned in a manner that the discharged water sweeps across the top of the transformer casing, creating a spray pattern that is effective and all-encompassing.

As is often an issue in these types of applications, the existing feed mains needed to be considered when designing the project. Feed mains were relocated as to shelter them from damage that could be incurred from the failure of adjacent transformers.

Efficient Project Management for Expedited Project Completion

The owner had slated the installation of the systems protecting the three transformers to occur during a scheduled outage, with the work associated with the fourth auxiliary transformer to occur at a later date. It was imperative that the project be complete before the end of the outage, which meant that F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems must design, stocklist, order, fabricate, install and test the system within the given timeframe.

Installers were also faced with the challenge of installing the sprinkler system in an environment that presented structural obstacles that impeded their work. The spaces between the transformer equipment and blast walls were quite restrictive, demanding that the installation crew be well-prepared and skilled enough to perform the work within confined areas.

Despite the environmental factors, the crew seamlessly installed the systems with time to spare. Furthermore, because F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was ahead of schedule, they also installed the deluge system for the auxiliary transformer that was initially planned for the future.

Following completion of the installation, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems conducted testing of all of the sprinkler systems to ensure that every component of the system was functioning properly. In addition to the typical hydrostatic testing that is typically executed post-installation, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems also performed a flow test of the nozzles for added reassurance that the system was operating at peak performance. Upon completion of the tests, there were still two days remaining in the outage, meaning F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems finished the installation, as well as the additional auxiliary transformer, two days before their deadline.

 

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Case Study - North Anna Nuclear Generating Station

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North Anna Nuclear Generating Station needed to find a resource that had the experience to implement a fire protection solution for their new transformers. The plant scheduled a two-week outage during which the installation was to occur. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems got the job done in half the time.

An Essential Source of Power to the Region

Located in Mineral, Virginia, the North Anna Power Station has been providing Virginia with power for more than thirty years. The site produces 1,806 megawatts of electricity from its two pressurized water reactors to provide electricity to 450,000 homes in the region. It is essential that the station operates at maximum uptime, as it serves as a major power source in the area. Any business interruption results in a major financial impact for the plant.

The Plant's Valuable Assets Demanded a Quality Fire Protection System

As the plant's transformers began to age, North Anna made the decision to replace three of its transformers during a scheduled two-week outage. High voltage transformers are inherently susceptible to fires due to insulation problems or lightning. These problems can result in volatile fires that can damage equipment, stop production and put lives at risk. Implementing a high-quality fire protection system is the best way to safeguard a power plant in the event of a transformer fire.  

Seeking a Swift but Reliable Solution

Installing a reliable deluge sprinkler system was deemed the best fire protection solution for the plant. North Anna was faced with the challenge of finding a resource that had the expertise to install the system so that it would function optimally in this high-risk environment. In addition, they needed to find a reliable resource that could also install the system within the rigid two-week timeframe. It was necessary that the contractor be experienced and knowledgeable enough to design and fabricate the system in a way in which it could be quickly and efficiently installed.

 

Meeting Timelines to Avoid Financial Losses

With more than thirty years of experience providing power generating stations with comprehensive fire protection solutions, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was a natural choice for North Anna. The knowledge that F.E. Moran has accumulated over the past three decades offered the proficiency needed to design and install fire protection systems quickly while still upholding the highest standards.

From the onset of the project, F.E. Moran's project management team carefully planned every facet of the installation to ensure that the project progressed efficiently and did not interfere with the coinciding work related to the transformers. 

F.E. Moran's expertise gave them the ability to foresee potential issues before they resulted in subsequent labor delays.

The Solution

The configuration of the deluge system that F.E. Moran implemented forms a protective ring around the transformers with nozzles every five feet. Protectowire Linear Heat Detector is used to detect fire, which in turn triggers the sprinkler system.


Exceeding Expectations

As the project progressed, the installation was well organized and was being implemented seamlessly. 
Because of F.E. Moran's proficiency, the plant staff was able to devote their attention to the additional maintenance needed during the outage rather than being preoccupied with the sprinkler system installation.

The project manager and design team were intimately familiar with the application and synchronized well with the loss prevention team, which allowed them to finish the job in one week- only half the time that they had been allotted. North Anna did not have to worry about the enormous financial implications associated with extending their outage.

The system installed by F.E. Moran passed the extensive testing done onsite, which meant that plant staff were not sidetracked by the hassle of conditional reports.

 

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Case Study - Chemical Plant Cooling Tower

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F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems had been providing fire protection solutions for a number of years at a cutting-edge silicon chemical plant. The facility recently discovered that the fire protection system in the cooling tower needed replacement. In a week's time, the piping was removed and replaced during an outage, providing the plant with the protection they needed to keep their facility safe.

A Solid Track Record of Providing Robust Protection for the Plant's High-Risk Hazards

As chemical processing continues to develop, the facilities in which products are manufactured must progress as well. One of the leading silicon chemical plants in the solar power industry has relied on F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems over the years for effective fire protection solutions for their developing plant. Their systems and services have proven to effectively protect the plant's valuable assets from the high-risk hazards that exist within the environment. As several phases of expansion have taken place, F. E. Moran Special Hazard Systems has designed and installed detection and suppression systems for areas such as vessels, distillation and hot oil areas, pipe racks, superheaters and silane loading areas.

F.E. Moran's Experience Enables Them to Uncover Issues Before They Escalate Into Big Problems

While doing maintenance work within their cooling tower, the plant had discovered an air leak on the pilot line of the fire protection system and asked F.E. Moran to repair it. It was discovered that corrosion at the joint of the pilot line had caused the leak, which led F.E. Moran to suggest inspecting the water piping. Experience told F.E. Moran that if the pilot line had sustained corrosion from the harsh environment, the water piping was probably in need of maintenance as well. F.E. Moran's speculation proved to be accurate and the plant's commitment to safety led them to make the decision to replace all of the piping in the cooling tower. The facility could recognize the expertise and precision of F. E. Moran's work over the four years that they had performed services at the plant, which made it an easy decision for them to select F. E. Moran as the contractor to perform the replacement.

 

Flexibility, Knowledge and a Vast Network of Resources

The time frame within which F. E. Moran was given to finish the project presented a challenge that required tapping into their extensive network of resources. Fire protection equipment utilized in cooling towers, such as the specialized nozzles, are typically made to order. F. E. Moran called upon a dependable and efficient fabricator they had worked with in the past to supply the pipe so that the project could be completed within the scheduled outage. Part of the F. E. Moran crew arrived a couple of days before the start date of the project to receive the materials and tools and prepare for the project so that they could begin work as soon as the facility could allow them access to the tower.

Another obstacle that F. E. Moran faced involved the design input referenced for pre-ordering and fabricating the materials used in the system. Some of the older drawings that were used as "as-builts" for the project required amending, which required experience and flexibility to make the necessary adjustments in the field while still meeting the target date.

F. E. Moran installed Schedule 40 galvanized pipe to constitute the new deluge system, which is designed to withstand severe elements to a higher degree than standard pipe. Additionally, F.E. Moran installed stainless steel nozzles for a higher degree of corrosion resistance. Another measure they took to counter the high rate of corrosion was the utilization of stainless steel hangers, which are even more durable than the galvanized hangers that previously supported the system.

Efficient Project Management and Effective Labor Allows F.E. Moran to Complete Projects in Remarkable Time

As a highly productive chemical plant, they aimed to minimize the down time of any part of its facility. They had given F.E. Moran one week to complete the work during the scheduled outage and any delays in the completion of the project would have resulted in losses for the facility. On Monday, July 11th, F.E. Moran began the onsite work at the plant, with a deadline of Monday, July 18th for the tower to resume operation. F.E. Moran worked efficiently and skillfully and put in the necessary overtime hours so that on Saturday the 16th the system had been fully installed and the pipe had been hydrostatically tested to ensure optimal operation, making the project fully complete with time to spare. The Emergency Response Coordinator for the facility says "F.E. Moran's Project Management team is very professional, experienced and helpful in making sure a quality project that meets the customer's needs is completed." Of the work completed by F.E. Moran, he says: "I would recommend and use F.E. Moran for future projects that I have, they have the ability to complete large and small projects within a short duration."

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Case Study - Combined Cycle Generating Station

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Varying requirements from the AHJ and the insurance provider complicated the design and installation of a comprehensive fire protection system at a natural-gas fueled combined cycle power plant whose production exceeds 600 mw. In the eleventh hour, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems dispatched a team to the site to arbitrate, redesign and hand-deliver revised drawings for approval so that the project would be completed correctly and on time.

 

One of the Region's Most Efficient and Environmentally Conscious Plants

 

Originally built as a simple cycle power plant that was designed to operate during peak usage times, this natural-gas fueled combined cycle power plant is located outside of one of the Western region's largest cities. In 2011 the plant added two combustion turbines, increasing its production to more than 600 mw to meet growing demand.

 

Unparalleled Experience Implementing Systems for Combined Cycle Plants

 

Implementing alarm and detection systems for combined cycle facilities requires a high level of expertise and experience with the nuances associated with the application. Challenges such as complex turbine underfloors and determining the most effective alarm and detection systems for varying types of fuel means that the contractor who is designing and installing the fire protection systems must have in-depth knowledge and firsthand experience.

 

The EPC firm that was selected for the construction of the combined cycle plant had relied on F. E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to provide fire protection systems for many of their projects in the past. Over the past several decades F.E. Moran has successfully completed dozens of combined-cycle projects, which gave the EPC firm the peace of mind that they had the expertise necessary to effectively implement the appropriate systems for the project.

The scope of the project included the design and installation of a wide array of alarm and detection systems for the new plant, including: electrically actuated deluge systems for the lube oil tank and seal oil skid; a dry pipe system, preaction systems and a dry standpipe system for the turbine areas, and alarm/detection systems throughout the plant facilities. F.E. Moran had also been tasked with the installation of the CO2 systems for the combustion turbine enclosures, with the design to be provided by the combustion turbine manufacturer.

 

Solutions that Satisfy the Conflicting Requirements of AHJ's and Insurance Companies

 

As with every project that F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems undertakes, the drawings for the system were created in accordance with NFPA requirements such as NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. However, as the project progressed, it became evident that it was going to be a challenge to satisfy the specific regulations set forth by the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in conjunction with those required by the facility's insurance company.

There were several aspects of the design that necessitated modification in order to fulfill these requirements. In particular, the AHJ called for an elevated hose flow and higher water pressures than were originally calculated. They also stipulated that a unique fire department connection be added to the system, which called for unconventional design tactics. From the insurance company's side, they demanded higher density systems, additional sprinkler heads and more stringent earthquake requirements. Designing and installing a system that complied with all of these criteria demanded careful arbitration among those involved and F.E. Moran's expertise allowed them to navigate the increasing complexity of the project.

 

When Problems Arise F.E. Moran is Ready to Step in and Use Their Expertise

 

As the project was approaching its final stage, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was confronted with yet another challenge that arose as a result of the turbine manufacturer's CO2 system designs being incompatible with the AHJ's requirements. The CO2 system drawings that were provided by the turbine manufacturer were generic designs which were not produced distinctively for the facility. Upon the AHJ's review of the drawings it was determined that the design must be customized for the site, which meant redesigning the system on short notice in order to meet an impending performance milestone for the turbines. Based on their superior performance throughout the project thus far, F.E. Moran was entrusted the responsibility of making the necessary design and installation alterations to the drawings to meet the imminent deadline.

To ensure that the designs were completed efficiently and accurately, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems immediately dispatched a crew out to the facility to design the system. Their designers and technicians remained on-site until the drawings were complete and then hand-delivered them to the AHJ for approval. Following the AHJ's authorization of the drawings, they installed the system and tapped into their resources to obtain a CO2 concentration meter on short notice to complete testing of the system.

Despite the onslaught of obstacles that F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems faced throughout the project, they were able to design and install a comprehensive fire protection system that met the rigorous demands of all those involved. Through their flexibility, their profound knowledge of the systems and their tremendous commitment to the customer, F.E. Moran was able to deliver an effective system that met all relevant codes, within the given timeframe.

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Case Study - LNG Import Facility

LNG fire protection

Contributor:  Paul Felch,  Project Manager of F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group


What started as a fairly standard project, turned complex when Mother Nature turned on it. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems used their expertise, resources, and perpetual objective for customer satisfaction to skillfully complete a project despite continuous adversity.

One of the Nation's Largest Liquefied Natural Gas Import Facilities


Located on the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, Maryland, this Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import facility connects to one gas pipeline and two gas transmissions to provide 1.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of LNG a day, making this facility the largest LNG importer in the country. One Bcf alone is capable of supplying 3.4 million homes with energy. As an LNG import facility supplying energy to millions of homes a day, a fire could be catastrophic.

Protecting People, Plant, and Production


This LNG import facility understands the importance of preeminent fire protection. To prevent any fire protection risk, the plant chose to find a solution to reduce the odds of an underground fire main leak in the aging fire main piping at the first stage pumps and cold blower buildings. These structures are an integral part of operating five of seven LNG tanks. An underground leak in that area would risk the LNG lines and impair fire protection. It was prudent to find a fire protection solution provider with expertise in high risk environments.

The Need for Paramount Fire Protection


Recognizing the need for paramount fire protection, the LNG import facility chose F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to provide solutions to their fire protection needs. To guarantee successful fire protection at the first stage pumps and cold blower buildings, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems redirected the existing underground fire water mains, which included divorcing and capping existing mains and providing one new hydrant and water monitor. Additionally, they replaced two aging deluge valves and converted the dry pilot deluge detection system into a linear heat detection system. The facility required welded pipes, as opposed to the typical industry standard use of PVC-based piping, and, to ensure quality control, x-rayed each weld.

Complete Project Despite Unusual Events

With a working facility, production is at risk during a fire protection solution installation. It was imperative to keep installation time to a minimum. Paul Felch, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Project Manager said, "We had to get the system back up and running ASAP so the customer was fully protected." F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems ably completed the project, despite the unusual circumstances.

The nature of an underground installation is innately more involved than standard installations. An excavation contractor needed to be hired to dig trenches for the underground installation. Whenever a project has an underground component, there are always unforeseen obstacles that arise. Upon excavation, it was noted that on-site customization was needed. This was the first of several unexpected issues that would take place during the project.

 

It could not have been predicted that following the excavation, three natural disasters would follow. To begin, on August 12, 2011, torrential rains pounded Maryland, with some areas getting as much as 6 inches of rain in one day, caving in the trenches. Following the downpour, on August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the east coast and Mid-Atlantic regions. It was tied as the highest magnitude earthquake east of the Rocky Mountains. Only a few days later, on August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene struck, grossing the highest damage costs, $7 billion, on record and taking the lives of 56 people.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Finds Solutions in Extenuating Circumstances

The unusual circumstances of this project were unforeseen, but with thirty years of experience, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems took each problem in stride and completed the project.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems first had to resolve the obstacles that were found underground. They cut 10" pipe runs to miss the various underground obstacles that were encountered, quickly resolving the issue.

Underground hindrances were minor issues compared to the three natural disasters that plagued the project. The first, a torrential downpour, caved in the trenches for the underground installation. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems had to re-dig the trenches, adding reinforced walls, keeping safety as a priority.

Only eleven days later, an earthquake hit Maryland followed four days later by Hurricane Irene. F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems personnel camped out, waiting to resume the project, resulting in only a short suspension of installation.

Despite the surge of barriers F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems faced throughout the project, they completed the project and delivered an impeccable result. Due to F.E. Moran Special Hazard System's perseverance, expertise, and professionalism, the LNG import facility now has a solution to their fire protection needs.

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Case Study - Underground Fire Main Installation

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Contributor:  Mike Warmington, Project Manager of F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

When F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was tasked with the job of completing an underground installation and upgrade with a strict deadline, Mother Nature attempted to impede their plans. However, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems persevered, and finished earlier than the original deadline.

 

Plant's Sale Results in Tight Deadline

 

A small town in Will County, Illinois with a population that barely reaches 2,000 is the home to a "peaker plant" that supplements the electrical needs of local homes and businesses. This plant was in a tight position when it was sold to a new owner with the stipulation of updating the fire protection before the 12 week close date. In comes F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems, who not only finished on time, but early despite numerous obstacles.

 

Mother Nature Provides Unique Challenge

 

A Will County peaker plant was sold with the condition of updating the underground fire mains and adding new tie-ins to the existing fire pump house before the close date, providing a unique challenge. The parent company had to find a contractor who had a reputation for completing projects with high quality while under a tight deadline. Originally, the bid was for a twelve week turnover, but once the contractor was chosen, the timeline needed to be reduced to eight weeks.

The timeline alone would be a difficult challenge for any contractor, but during installation, torrential downpours wreaked havoc on Illinois. In 1 day, the Chicago area saw a record setting 5 inches of rain, 600 flooded streets, 1,200 flooded homes, and 1 massive sinkhole that swallowed several cars. This state-wide disaster took place during the underground installation stage of an already difficult project.



F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems Overcomes Obstacles

 

With several tight timeline projects under their belt, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was chosen as the fire protection contractor for the peaker plant project. With this project, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was required to replace the existing underground fire mains and new tie-ins to the existing fire pump building in two months.

 

The massive downpours caused another hurdle for the installers. For safety reasons, excavation needed to halt during the rains. If it had continued, the trenches may have collapsed, seriously injuring someone. Once the rain had ended, the installers used pumps to remove the water from the trenches. Due to the record-setting rain, the ground absorbed so much water that each morning the trenches were full of the water that had seeped through the trench walls and into the excavation site. The F.E. Moran Superintendent ordered extra pumps to accommodate the flooding and arrived at 5:30am each morning to pump before the work could begin.

In order to finish the increasingly more difficult task of completing the project in eight weeks, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems' installers worked weekends and evenings to complete the project to specifications.

Within the revised eight week timeline, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems completed the project, despite the barrage of obstacles. Through hard work and a dedicated team of installers, this peaker plant had their underground fire mains and fire pump house completed in time for the closing of the sale.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems has been providing turn-key fire protection solutions for power plants, chemical processing facilities, and heavy industrial plants since 1979. Through this targeted experience, they are able to utilize their expertise to conquer seemingly impossible tasks under extreme pressure.

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Case Study - Fertilizer Plant

fertilizer plant fire protection

Written By:  Sarah Block, Director of Marketing & Education

When a nitrogen fertilizer plant experienced an explosion in an unprotected area of their plant, they quickly called F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to remedy the issue and keep their plant safe.

 

Illinois Fertilizer Plant Explosion

 

A nitrogen fertilizer plant in East Dubuque, IL is a primary producer of nitrogen fertilizer in the heart of the Midwest. They have been producing nitrogen fertilizer since 1965, providing low cost, environmentally conscious product.

When an explosion rocked the plant only two weeks before Christmas, they called F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to get the plant back in working condition. Before Christmas, F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems accomplished that.

 

 

Christmas Deadline Creates Challenge

 

In early December, a gas leak in a 6-story vessel caused a major explosion. It was a wake-up call for the company. Wanting to prevent any future incidents, they called F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems to install a deluge fire sprinkler system around the vessel.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems designs and installs deluge systems often, but this time the obstacle arose to begin and end the project within two weeks. A nitrogen fertilizer plant needed the project to be wrapped up before Christmas, creating a challenge that F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems was excited to take on.

 

Tight Timeline, Quick Turnaround

 

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems knew they had a tight timeline to maintain; Christmas was only a few weeks away. The nitrogen fertilizer plant requested a quote and by December 13, 2013, they provided it. The plant approved it and December 16, 2013, the PO was sent. The design began December 16, 2013 and was turned over December 18, 2013. The material was ordered the same day and installation began. The plant was mobilized December 20, 2013 and by December 23, 2013 the project was completed.

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems turned over the plant with two days to spare. Project Manager Mike Warmington said, "We had a Christmas deadline to complete a package design, materials, and labor. We dropped everything to meet their schedule, and managed to finish in seven days, getting everyone home for the holiday."

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Working with Old Fire Alarm Systems

working with old fire alarms

Even in the best economic climates, many power generating and chemical processing plants struggle to find the capital resources to invest in new fire alarm and detection systems. Times like these make it difficult to see beyond just operating and maintaining the plant production equipment. However, if a fire occurs on a piece of critical path equipment and the fire alarm or detection system's functionality is inadequate, the financial consequences associated with interrupted business can be devastating. It is imperative that the functional state of a facility's aging alarm and detection systems is not eclipsed by day to day operations because of the gravity of the consequences of substandard alarm and detection.

Why Do Aging Fire Alarm and Detection Systems Become Unreliable?

The basic precepts of any fire alarm system are that it 1) warns occupants and plant operations of abnormal conditions, 2) alerts the appropriate first responders and 3) initiates fire protection systems and facility operations to enhance the protection of people, plant and production. 
There are many reasons why an aged fire alarm or detection system's functionality can be compromised, from environmental factors to problems dating back to initial installation or imperfect design practices. A deficient inspection, testing and maintenance program will also take its toll on equipment, accelerating its deterioration. As systems reach the concluding years of their life cycle, finding sufficient support and replacement parts can become a challenge. Collectively, these issues undermine the effectiveness of the systems, create headaches for plant staff and jeopardize the reliability of the plant.

Many areas within power generating plants and chemical process facilities have extreme conditions that put stress on all of the equipment within the vicinity. Factors such as high temperatures, corrosive elements, vibration and dusty atmospheres can all be detrimental to the effectiveness of an alarm and detection system that is not properly maintained. Even in applications where systems are not regularly exposed to harsh conditions, the typical life span of control equipment and smoke detectors is approximately ten years, due to natural deterioration.

New Technology Makes for Obsolete Equipment

While new fire alarm technology means more sensitive detection, advanced warning and mitigated risk, it also equates obstacles for plants with older systems. Manufacturers are continuously developing technology to leverage their systems over competitors and present the most advanced product that they can to the market. As this technology eventually prevails, updates are introduced into UL and NFPA standards, requiring facilities to either replace their systems or make amendments to their existing equipment in order to remain compliant.
A prime example of an update to these standards is the UL864, 9th edition, which went into effect at the end of 2008 and forced wholesale changes to all manufacturer control panels. An overwhelming portion of the panels that predate the update are now considered obsolete and are unsupported. From the manufacturer's perspective, resources must be refocused on new product development rather than supporting antiquated equipment, meaning older systems will no longer be supported and replacement parts will cease to be manufactured.

 

Surpassing Projected Life Cycles

Despite the extreme environments found in power generating plants, many alarm and detection systems do surpass their projected life cycle. Whether through robust engineering and development of the product, smart design and installation, aggressive inspection, testing and maintenance or a combination of all of these factors, many of the original fire alarm systems found in power generating facilities are still meeting their intended function. However, the longer these aging systems are in service, the more problematic they generally become.

If a facility opts to try to extend the lifespan of their system, one of the most primary issues they will face is correctly identifying the existing problems that may not be overtly evident. Thorough, comprehensive inspection and testing must be performed in calculated intervals by a party who is knowledgeable about older systems. The nuances associated with particular equipment and the proper solution to problems inherent to decades-old systems can be very particular, requiring a seasoned professional with a wide breadth of expertise.

Once system issues are identified, it can be even more challenging to find resources for replacement parts and system manuals. The process of locating antiquated parts for deficient systems, or finding supplementary parts that will mesh with old systems to bring them up to standard, can be extremely time consuming and can distract plant staff from their principal duties. If the facility does not have a broad network for obtaining obsolete parts, they will quickly find that it is extremely difficult to obtain critical parts in a timely fashion, potentially taking fire protection systems out of service until parts can be acquired.

Evaluating Return on Investment

As a facility comes to a crossroads about whether to repair/update aging systems or replace them, a number of factors must be taken into consideration. Time, cost and effectiveness of the system are all decisive aspects of the decision making process and must be carefully evaluated before investing money into either option.

Consideration of the time, effort and cost of locating and procuring parts and reference materials for an old system should be evaluated before investing additional funds and time in a system that is nearing or has surpassed its expected life cycle. Creating an accurate analysis and projecting costs can be a difficult exercise for someone who does not have a great deal of experience with antiquated replacement parts and may require the assistance of someone working with such systems on a regular basis who has access to parts lists and estimating methods.

Regardless of the course that a facility takes, managing old fire alarm systems is a substantial undertaking that requires careful planning and deliberation. Plant staff often find themselves overwhelmed with the complexity of the issues and lacking the information needed to make significant decisions about the future of their aging alarm systems. The best way to approach the management of old systems is to tap into resources that have the knowledge and experience to inspect and test the systems, can conduct a comprehensive analysis about the condition of the system and can provide all of the relevant details in a succinct manner so that plant staff can make informed decisions about the future of their systems.

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Blockages and Broken Pipes - Do You Know if Your System is Ineffective Due to Freezing in Pipes?

blockages and broken pipes

Maintaining optimal performance for a power generating or chemical processing facility's fire protection system demands a great deal of attention. Plant staff must continuously monitor the Fire Alarm Control Panel, conduct regular testing at prescribed intervals and perform ongoing system maintenance, along with other related tasks.  Among all of these duties, a critical consideration is sometimes neglected- freezing pipes. Most power generating or chemical processing facilities in the United States are susceptible to freezing temperatures during the winter months. This means that water that is subjected to these cold temperatures will inevitably freeze.  If the proper measures are not taken to prevent water from freezing within pipes, the consequences can be disastrous.

Is Your Facility at Risk for Frozen Pipes?

There are several different conditions that can result in frozen pipes and any facility that is located in a cold-weather area is at risk.  Perhaps the most common incident that results in freezing pipes is inadequate drainage of the system following activation.  Whether the system was tripped because of false detection, a routine inspection or an actual fire, failure to thoroughly drain the residual water will result in freezing if the ambient temperature is sufficiently cold.

Another circumstance that can subsequently cause water to freeze is the installation of a wet pipe system in an area that is not heated.  In new construction applications, the heat may not be functional at the time that the fire protection system is installed.  The lack of heat allows the potential for pipes that are continuously filled with water to freeze.

Costly Damage and Nonfunctional Sprinkler Systems - The Consequences of Frozen Pipes

The extent of the damage incurred from frozen pipes varies, depending upon the diameter of the pipe, the amount of water present and the temperature of the environment.  Typically, the grooved or threaded fittings are the first part of the system to succumb to the stress caused by the expansion of the ice.  However, if initial damage goes unnoticed, it is possible that the problem can escalate until a pipe itself bursts, propelling the resulting damages into the tens of thousands of dollars.  Impairment to the system's header, switches, air gauges and water gauges are also associated with frozen pipes.

A less obvious impediment to the system occurs when a mass of ice creates a blockage within the pipe, hindering or completely blocking the flow of water.  This situation is particularly hazardous because it is not overtly apparent that the system is not capable of functioning at full capacity.  It is possible that a plant could be completely oblivious of an ice blockage until a fire occurs and a sprinkler system fails to discharge water.

Simple Solutions to Eliminate Costs and Mitigate Risk

In perspective of the potentially costly damage or consequences of a malfunctioning system, the solutions that a plant can put into place to prevent freezing pipes are relatively simple.  In scenarios where a system has tripped and there is lingering water within the pipes, the water must be drained.  Before the valve is reset, the main valve, any low areas, or drum drips, should be drained to rid the system of any excess water.  This straightforward, yet effectual, practice should be executed every time water enters a dry pipe to prevent freezing water. 

Pipes that are continuously filled with water but are exposed to cold environments, such as pipe leading from a valve house outdoors, require a solution that will maintain the temperature in the pipe above freezing.  Heat tracing these pipes is an effective method for preventing ice blockages or damage to the system caused by expansion, and involves running heat-emitting wire along the pipe.

Although these solutions are fairly basic, plants too often incur cost and put their facility at unnecessary risk because the issue of freezing pipes was either overlooked or the plant staff was not aware of the gravity of the consequences.  After a system has been installed and tested, it is critical that staff members are fully trained about how to prevent freezing pipes and that continual education occurs at the facility to train new employees and remind existing staff of these best practices.

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The Hidden Costs of Isolated Fire Protection Systems

fire protection systems

The fire protection schemes in today's power plants have evolved to include elements such as fire sprinkler, deluge, foam, and gas suppression systems. When functioning optimally, these

systems provide a plant with comprehensive fire protection that safeguards lives and protects valuable assets. However, the cost-effectiveness of a complete fire protection system relies on the plant's ability to properly assess and respond to the potential threat. It is a challenge to adequately monitor these systems when alerts are annunciated exclusively on a local level. The time required to respond to remote alerts can have a tremendous impact on the plant's ability to properly respond to the potential threat without impacting plant productivity. Centralizing the monitoring of isolated systems through a wireless Fire Detection and Alarm System (FDAS) is one way to provide plant operations with the real time information needed to make the best decisions.

Isolated Fire Protection Systems Means Neglected Alarms

Plants rely on system alarms to notify them of potential safety threats so that they can take the appropriate action to respond to a dangerous situation. When systems only alarm at a local level, the likelihood increases that alarms will not be recognized quickly enough to take the appropriate action. This especially holds true in areas that are infrequently manned, where the alarm could go unacknowledged for extended periods of time. Essentially, when these isolated fire protection systems activate (trip) due to a fire condition, they do not perform the critically important function of immediately communicating their status to emergency response personnel.

 

Although it is commonplace for today's plant to have an FDAS that connects to many of the fire protection systems, a problem arises when new facilities or structures with their own separate systems are added to the site. Frequently, these newer systems are not connected to the existing FDAS, either because the function was overlooked during planning or because it was difficult and expensive to install the necessary raceway and cable to allow for the connection. Systems in older plants are generally even more disconnected, often because they have FDAS's that are incapable of becoming hardwired to a centralized location or they are completely lacking an FDAS. In these situations, some plants compensate by monitoring the fire protection systems with their PLC/DCS system(s), but this method of monitoring does not comply with fire codes and typically only provides local alarms as well.

 

The Costs and Issues Associated with Hardwired FDAS

 

From both a fire code compliance and technical standpoint, the best solution for monitoring fire protection systems is to connect them to a plant site FDAS with a control panel or remote annunciator that is located where emergency response personnel can quickly receive and respond to activity. However, when hardwiring the system, plants encounter an obstacle in that almost all FDAS's need cable and associated conduit or raceway between the control panel and monitored points. The cost of installing cable is significant even in new installations and may not be cost effective or even possible when adding units or retrofitting older ones on an existing site. Another associated issue is that exposed cable and raceway infrastructures degrade over time, causing significant maintenance problems. In some older facilities, a degraded cable system has caused plants to abandon the circuits due to the cost to maintain or replace them, subsequently isolating fire protection systems that were previously monitored.


Wireless FDAS to Achieve Simplified, Cost-Effective and Comprehensive Alarm Monitoring

 

Facilities that do not want the encumbrance or extra cost of installing and maintaining FDAS circuit cable between a control panel and remote locations now have an alternative with wireless FDAS. A control panel, that is also a transmitter/receiver, can be placed in a central location in the plant where it is easily accessible to emergency personnel. Wireless transmitters are connected to formerly isolated fire protection systems to communicate the status of these systems on a point basis via the wireless network. Supplementary repeaters can then be installed in strategic locations throughout the site to create a secure and reliable wireless communication network.

These wireless systems are not only easier to install than a wired FDAS, they are also far more economical since hefty cable and raceway costs are eliminated. Other substantial benefits are that future circuit maintenance costs are largely eliminated and additions to the system are typically less costly and easier to implement. For the growing number of plants that are faced with the challenges associated with isolated fire protection systems, a wireless FDAS is often the best solution to integrate all of their systems.

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