Fire prevention and fire fighting on wind farms

Wind Turbine FireResearch undertaken by Imperial College London in conjunction with Edinburgh University and the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in 2014 found that fire is the second largest cause of incidents in wind turbines after blade failure. Considering the vast costs for constructing wind turbines, this statistic offers enough justification to consider specific fire prevention, detection and fighting questions.

Fires in wind turbines can start when flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and other flammable materials are in proximity to hot machinery or electrical equipment. Oils can catch fire if the gearbox or generator overheat, and high winds can potentially fan the flames. Lightening strikes can also spark a fire. Once started, the fire is unlikely to be brought under control due to the height of the turbines and the location of wind farms, which are normally a significant distance from the nearest fire services.

Fire precautions

Measures can be put in place to protect against lightning strikes. Fire-resistant hydraulic fluids and lubricant oils reduce the likelihood of a fire and the latest wind turbine designs incorporate heat barriers to protect materials that can burn. It is also recommended that manufacturers use non-combustible insulating materials. Intumescent materials (materials that expand if exposed to fire and therefore choke the fire) can help to suppress fires at an early stage. Systems can be installed to continuously monitor the condition of machinery so that maintenance and engineering work can be undertaken in a timely manner and the system can be shut down before a fire develops.

Should a fire break out there are fire detection systems that can be employed in conjunction with fire suppression systems and an automated shut-off. If a fire were to break out whilst an engineer was working within the nacelle (the outer casing at the top of a turbine) a fire detector would also give an early warning.

Fire suppression systems that are triggered by rises in temperature or by fire detectors are fitted in some turbines. Gas suppression systems work best in airtight environments. However if the ignition source has not been eliminated the fire may reignite once the gas has dispersed. Systems that are able to extinguish flames with water, foam or powder have the disadvantage that they might damage equipment. Automated suppression systems might also have to be disabled while engineer work in the nacelle to prevent suffocation, inhalation or, in the case of powder, obfuscation (a powder discharge in a small room can blind the operator).

Precautions for maintenance workers

For the periods of maintenance work a portable fire extinguisher should be provided. However, in the document Workshop Report: Escape from the nacelle in the event of a fire, produced by the G9 Offshore Wind Health & Safety Association it states that ‘a fire extinguisher should be considered as an aid to escape rather than a primary means of fire control/suppression.’

Safelincs spoke with representatives of one of its customers, energy company Vattenfall, regarding the siting of fire extinguishers. The company has turbines from a number of manufacturers. In some cases the portable extinguishers are situated as a permanent fixture within the nacelle. In other cases the engineer will carry an extinguisher with him as part of his tool kit.

Recommendation from Safelincs

1) For permanently installed portable extinguishers:

The downside of standard fire extinguishers is that they require an annual service carried out by a qualified extinguisher engineer and a refill needs to be undertaken for most extinguishers after five years with the unit replaced after ten years. Since a visit to turbines by an external extinguisher engineer is usually hard to achieve, a service-free fire extinguisher is a better solution.

Safelincs can offer a range of service-free foam extinguishers in 2 ltr and 6 ltr sizes. These fire extinguishers are manufactured in the UK from non-corrosive materials and feature duplicate pressure gauges. They only require an annual visual check by any member of staff, e.g. the turbine maintenance engineer. They also do not require a refill after five years. Instead, after ten years they can be refilled and used for a further ten years.

The resistance to a corrosive maritime environment makes these extinguishers particularly well suited to the wind farm industry.

2) For extinguishers carried by the maintenance engineer:

The extinguisher in this case must be light, broad spectrum, safe for use on electricity, non-damaging to equipment and harmless in the case of inhalation. There must also be no risk of asphyxiation.

Safelincs can offer a range of portable water mist extinguishers, which can be used on grease, oils, electric equipment (up to 1000 Volt), fabric and plastics. The extinguishers create a very fine mist of de-ionised water that cannot conduct electricity. The inhalation of the water mist is not harmful and the mist does not leave a deposit.

For further information, please email support@safelincs.co.uk or ring us on 0800 612 6537

What To Do If Your Clothing Catches Fire

According to statistics published by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in 2012, around 80 people die each year in in the UK after their clothing catches fire.

If your own clothing catches fire you should take the following course of action:

  • STAY where you are—moving or running feeds air to the flames and worsens the fire.
  • DROP to the floor—if you stand up, the fire can burn your face. Fold your arms high on your chest to protect your face.
  • ROLL slowly on the floor or ground, in a rug or blanket if you can.
  • COOL off as soon as possible with water for first and second degree burns. *

If you are in the position of helping somebody else whose clothing has caught fire you should apply the steps above. In addition there is one type of fire extinguisher that can be recommended for such a situation. See the video.

The Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguisher is a new type of extinguisher, which works by dispersing microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials, The speed at which it takes effect, combined with the rapid cooling it induces, make it the perfect extinguisher to have to hand should a fire of this nature break out.

Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguishers are the first broad-spectrum fire extinguishers. They can be used on almost every common fire including deep fat fryer fires. They are perfect for kitchens, as they contain no harmful substances and leave no residues. The extinguisher’s supersonic nozzle disperses microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials. The 35kV dielectrical test ensures that the extinguishers can be safely used near electrical equipment.

*In a serious fire room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. This heat can melt clothes to a victim’s skin. Never peel the clothing off – leave the treatment to medical professionals.

Two Innovative Fire Extinguishers – A Clear Case of Horses for Courses

Safelincs is very happy to be leading the way by supplying two innovative types of fire extinguisher – the Jewel Water Mist Extinguisher and the Fireworld P50. Both are attracting attention from those with an interest in fire safety. But what are the considerations when deciding which type to buy?

Here we examine the benefits of each type of extinguisher and consider where they might best be utilised.

Water mist

Water mist extinguishers (also called E-series or ‘dry’ water mist extinguishers) have a supersonic nozzle that disperses microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials quickly and easily. The nature of these particles means that they can be used on just about every type of fire, including fat fires. The ‘dry’ mist is 100% environmentally friendly as it is just de-ionised water. There are no nasty fumes or residue to deal with – it is a clean way of tackling a fire – and the water mist also protects the user from heat.

water-mist-fire-extinguisherThe speed at which the water mist smothers the fire, as demonstrated in this video, is very impressive. The fine mist also suppresses and minimises the acrid smoke generated by the fire.

The water mist extinguisher is proving popular in hotel and restaurant kitchens where even a deep fat fryer fire can be quickly dealt with. But what makes it so appealing is that there are no fumes or residue to clear up. Using a powder or foam extinguisher, even on a minor fire would leave a lot of mess.

This would mean throwing away any food in the vicinity and maybe even having to temporarily close the kitchen, causing inconvenience and loss of revenue.

In a recent hotel fire, a croissant placed in a toaster designed for bread caused a fire to break out. The water mist extinguisher quickly put out the fire and, after it had been inspected and PAT tested, the toaster was put back into service.

The lack of residue also makes these extinguishers popular in museums and heritage buildings. Very often, when fires occur, the process of extinguishing them can cause more damage than the fire itself. In an environment where valuable paintings or artefacts are present the opportunity to install an extinguisher that will minimise residual damage is attractive.

The one litre version is fast becoming a favourite for use in the home. The water mist extinguisher will cope with any likely domestic fire and there are no residual fumes that would harm children.

Fireworld P50

Where fire extinguishers are installed there is a requirement to have them serviced annually by a qualified engineer – an expensive business.

med-approved-p50-fire-extinguisherBut this is where the Britannia Fireworld P50 comes into its own. It has been designed so that it requires only an annual inspection which can easily be carried out by a member of staff. (There’s even a demonstration video on the Safelincs website). Unlike most extinguishers it does not need refilling after five years. And the P50 is guaranteed for ten years, after which time it can be refilled and used for a further ten years.

So, after the initial outlay, there are no costs for the next ten years

The Fireworld P50 comes in foam and powder versions so any organisation currently using these types of extinguisher has the opportunity to switch and drastically reduce their bills.

Safelincs is the Church of England’s chosen fire safety provider and recently installed eight P50s at St Margaret’s Church in Warnham. Previously St Margaret’s was paying between £500 and £749 per year for its extinguisher maintenance but will now not have to pay a penny for ten years.

The other significant advantage of the P50 lies in its construction. The main body is a strong composite plastic which is reinforced with the material from which bullet proof vests are made. The metal fittings are brass which means that there is nothing in the extinguisher’s make-up that will rust or corrode.

Hence the extinguisher is ideal for outdoor use or anywhere that might be subject to moisture such as farms, swimming pools, oil rigs, wind farms, garage forecourts, railway stations and building sites. And it is very tough and won’t dent in the way that metal extinguishers would.

P50 also finds favour with environmentalists, both for it being 100% recyclable when it reaches the end of its life and for the reduction in miles travelled by engineers.

Help is at hand

At Safelincs we believe that both these types of extinguisher offer significant advantages. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to discuss further the merits of each extinguisher to help you decide which is best for you.

Water Mist Fire Extinguishers are now also Kitemarked

Our broad-spectrum E-series water mist fire extinguishers from Jewel Saffire have always been rigorously tested and certified to the very latest standards. They were certified by LPCB, one of the leading international certification bodies. LPCB certification is part of the BRE (Building Research Establishment). On top of this certification, a second certification body BSI has now certified the water mist extinguishers and added their particular stamp to the product. The BSI’s certification stamp, often called the ‘kitemark’ can now be used in marketing materials and on the product. While this is superfluous to requirements, the ‘kitemark’ is a well recognised and trusted symbol and helps to market products.

Our water mist extinguishers cover a very broad spectrum of fire risks, including traditional burning solids such as wood and paper, as well as burning liquids, gas and cooking fats. They are even safe and efficient on electrical fires (as long as a safety distance of 1m is adhered to). They tackle difficult fires, such as clothing fires and Christmas tree fires, are entirely harmless in their use and are environmentally friendly, as they only contain water. They also create a thermal shield between user and the fire and even clear the acrid smoke of fires. Safelincs recommends these extinguishers in particular for homes, professional kitchens, restaurants, churches, schools, nurseries, although the extinguishers are, of course, also suitable for general use and office areas. Landlords also benefit from these extinguishers, as the tenants will only require one type of extinguisher for all risks and do not have to learn how to use a selection of extinguishers for the different risks. They also have the added benefit of not requiring any cleaning up should the extinguisher be set off accidentally, as the water mist disperses into the air.

The water mist extinguishers are available in three sizes: a 1 litre version mainly for domestic and landlord applications and a 3 and 6 litre range for businesses and organisations.

Non-chemical fire extinguisher ideal for schools

There’s a new type of fire extinguisher that will put out just about any type of fire without leaving harmful residues or creating unpleasant or dangerous fumes. The Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguisher’s supersonic nozzle disperses microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials quickly and easily.

“As there are no chemicals involved they are perfect for use in schools,” explains Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director of Safelincs who supply the product. “They can be used on just about every type of fire including electrical and fat fryer fires, and the speed at which they extinguish flames and suppress fumes and smoke is quite incredible.”

They are 100% environmentally friendly and the water mist protects the user from heat.

The extinguishers are LPCB approved to EN3, come with a five year warranty and have extraordinary fire fighting capability. The ease of use, and the range of fires they can tackle, simplify training and remove the risk of the extinguishers being used incorrectly.

And, should the extinguisher be misused, the discharge of the water mist extinguisher is at low pressure and not dangerous. The water itself is, of course, completely harmless.

To see a video of how the Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguisher performs in relation to other extinguishers go here: https://www.safelincs.co.uk/video_player.php?vid=49

Product details here: https://www.safelincs.co.uk/e-series-water-mist-fire-extinguishers/

Water mist fire extinguishers for kitchens

Safelincs has added Jewel Water Mist Fire Extinguishers to its extensive range of fire safety equipment. These ‘no-mess’ extinguishers are ideal for use in kitchens where they can be used on all types of fire including deep fat fryers.

Product details:

Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguishers are the first broad-spectrum fire extinguishers. They can be used on almost every common fire including deep fat fryer fires. They are perfect for kitchens, as they contain no harmful substances and leave no residues. The extinguisher’s supersonic nozzle disperses microscopic ‘dry’ water mist particles to suppress fires and extinguish burning materials. The 35kV dielectrical test ensures that the extinguishers can be safely used near electrical equipment.

Water Mist Fire Extinguisher Statistics show that more fires start in kitchens than anywhere else. Traditionally, wet chemical extinguishers have been recommended for cooking fires that are being fuelled by oil and fat. They are effective but leave a residue that has to be thoroughly cleaned before any more cooking or food preparation can be undertaken. It may even mean temporarily closing down the kitchen.

The Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguishers leave no residue so there are no nasty fumes or residues to contend with and the water mist protects the user from heat.

The extinguishers are LPCB approved to EN3, come with a five year warranty and have extraordinary extinguisher ratings. The ease of use, and the range of fires they can tackle, simplify training and remove the risk of the extinguishers being used incorrectly.

See a video of how the Jewel E-Series Water Mist Fire Extinguisher performs in relation to other extinguishers.