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

Lincolnshire garage tackle engine fire

Fire in Lincolnshire Based GarageBusinesses often think that a fire won’t happen to them. A Lincolnshire based garage, however, had taken prudent precautions and had asked Safelincs to install powder fire extinguishers in its workshop. These suddenly became very important when a vehicle that was being worked on suddenly started to smoke and the engine caught fire.

The fast thinking of the mechanics ensured that the fire was quickly and efficiently extinguished, preventing excessive damage to the vehicle and also to their premises. To ensure the garage was seamlessly protected Safelincs instantly replaced the extinguishers used to fight the engine fire free of charge. Safelincs replaces any fire safety equipment damaged or used in a fire for free as part of its commitment to protect its customers.

A rapid recovery after a fire is essential for customers and having new fire fighting equipment in place straight after the fire is part of a larger picture. Using fire extinguishers which cause a minimum of clean-up after the fire is extinguished also helps to recover quickly from a fire. Safelincs can advise customers on the best extinguisher options in each industry, drawing from a huge range of extinguishers and years of experience. We offer traditional fire fighting extinguishers as well as clean ranges that hardly leave any residue, for example dry water mist extinguishers, suitable for a large area of applications.

Businesses should ensure that they have completed a risk assessment to identify the fire risks associated with their business and install the appropriate fire detection and fire fire fighting equipment based on these findings.  Carrying out a fire risk assessment is a legal requirement for businesses.

For more information about our services call 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk.

P50 Extinguisher Saves Truck From Fire

Lorries in YardA global company, leading in the field of infrastructure operations and maintenance, with offices in Retford as well as across the UK and globally, had a narrow escape when one of their vehicles broke out in flames.

The company had P50 foam extinguishers installed and were able to act quickly in order to put out the flames that were caused due to a hydraulic oil leak. The operative at the plant said “the fire extinguisher used (a P50 foam) very quickly brought the fire under control and extinguished it” he went on to say that the fire was “potentially a serious fire that could’ve resulted in the total loss of that truck”.

The P50 extinguisher is a service-free extinguisher which can save companies up to £300 per extinguisher. This extinguisher will be replaced free of charge under our exclusive free replacement guarantee. We replace any fire safety equipment that has been damaged by or used to extinguish a fire.

For more information how installing P50 extinguishers can save you money, call 0800 612 6537 or visit our dedicated Britannia P50 page.

Charity benefits from switching to service-free extinguishers

p50-foam-and-powderWith homes and flats across London, Hertfordshire and Berkshire, leading Jewish charity Norwood gives adults with learning disabilities the support they need to choose where they live. In each property, housing support is available according to each person’s needs; they can choose between sharing a house with 3-6 people, sharing a flat or living on their own.

Norwood has to ensure that all its properties have adequate measures in place for safeguarding in the case of fire. This includes the provision of fire extinguishers which have to be serviced annually – at considerable cost.

Norwood became aware of the service-free P50 extinguishers which are constructed using a composite material that will not rust or corrode. They do not need servicing, as a simple annual check, which can be carried out by a member of Norwood’s own staff, is all that is required. There is also no refill required after 5 years – P50s only need refilling after 10 years.

Safelincs have so far provided around 100 of the P50 extinguishers (mostly foam) to Norwood and is rolling out a replacement program across most of the properties. Unlike most foam extinguishers, P50s contains a type of foam that is also safe to use on most electrical fires. Therefore they can be used on multiple fire types; the risk of Norwood staff or residents, although trained, using the wrong type of extinguisher, has been eliminated.

Although P50s are slightly more expensive than conventional extinguishers, Norwood benefits from massive savings by not having to call in service engineers each year. After ten years the units can be refurbished and used in exactly the same way for a further ten years.

“Safelincs took care of everything,” explains John Gregory, Facilities Manager at Norwood. “The price includes a site survey, installation, ID sign, a bracket and certification. The engineer also carried out some quick training to show staff how to look after the extinguishers. And if anybody new joins, Safelincs has provided us with DVDs of the inspection process to keep all of our staff informed.”

New service-free extinguishers for buses, taxis, boats and other applications

2kglrt-p50Following the great success of the 6 kg/ltr powder and foam P50 service-free extinguishers in working environments as varied as offices, refineries, farms, schools and churches, Britannia has now also launched 2kg powder and 2ltr foam versions of the service-free extinguisher. Like the 6kg/ltr versions, the smaller variant is manufactured with a corrosion-proof inner plastic cylinder cocooned by Aramid fibre to hold the chemicals and pressure. The extinguisher is then finished with an outer UV-proof sleeve and corrosion-free fittings. Like the larger extinguishers, the smaller series is, of course, kitemarked and CE marked and can be factory re-furbished after 10 years. It also features the same industry leading 10 year warranty of the larger P50s.

All service-free extinguishers from Britannia only require a simple, annual visual inspection which is carried out by the owners or their representatives. They do not require any visits by an extinguisher technician and no refill after 5 years.

The extinguishers are aimed at vehicles and locations, where maintenance is difficult or even impossible. The examples below include areas where small extinguishers are common and traditionally serviced:

  • offshore wind farms: Wind turbine housings require small fire extinguishers. The 2 kg/ltr version of the P50 is ideal and is easily visually checked annually by the engineers carrying out the regular mechanical maintenance of the turbines.
  • buses and taxis: the traditional maintenance of small on-board extinguishers is very expensive, as it requires service technicians to be based at bus depots at night time. With the 2kg powder P50, the annual visual inspection is carried out by the depot technicians when engine services are carried out.
  • small boats and narrowboats: The P50 extinguishers are Boat Safety Scheme approved and are ideal in the corrosive environment of rivers and sea water. The 2kg powder extinguisher is ideal for engine compartments, while the 2 ltr foam extinguisher version is perfect in the kitchen and living compartments on boats.
  • farm machinery: diggers, tractors and other machinery require small powder extinguishers. The maintenance of these is challenging, due to the working pattern and remoteness of the machines. The 2kg powder P50 can be installed on the machines and is visually inspected annually by farm staff without the need for any external visits.
  • market stalls: market stall holders are required by their insurance to have small extinguishers with them. Due to the regularly changing location, it is difficult to arrange for service engineers to carry out the maintenance. Again, the small service-free P50 extinguishers are here extremely helpful, as they can be inspected by the stall holder.
  • rented properties: Many landlords provide small fire extinguishers in the kitchen. The problem is then to arrange annual maintenance in daytime when tenants are often working or out of house. The 2ltr P50 foam extinguisher offers here a perfect solution. The landlord or any handyman can visually inspect the extinguisher on repair or inspection visits.
  • hotel rooms: Hotel rooms, especially when containing any cooking facility, often feature a small extinguisher. To avoid disturbance of guests, the 2ltr P50 foam offers a great way forward here. Rather than requiring a service engineer, hotel staff simply carry out the easy annual visual inspection and record the finding in the fire safety logbook of the hotel.

The list of useful and cost-saving applications where you can use these service-free models is endless. Please contact our friendly sales team if you would like to discuss your own requirements and see how much money you could be saving. You can email us on support@safelincs.co.uk or call 0800 612 6537

Cinema chain installs P50s

empireEmpire Cinemas is one of the latest Safelincs customers to benefit from the minimal maintenance costs of P50 fire extinguishers.

The largest independently-owned cinema chain in the UK, Empire Cinemas has just opened two new cinema complexes at Hemel Hempstead and Catterick Garrison, and was determined that its new cinemas should have the most modern appliances fitted.

Safelincs supplied and installed P50 foam and P50 wet chemical extinguishers in the new cinema complexes as well as the linked restaurants and cafes. The appliances were selected primarily for their low maintenance costs. Unlike conventional extinguishers, P50s do not require an annual service by an external engineer; a simple check can be undertaken each year by one of the cinema’s staff, which is where the savings are made. The kitemarked P50 extinguishers are guaranteed for ten years after which they can be refilled and used for another ten years.

When the fire extinguishers in the all the other cinemas come up for renewal, it is intended to replace them with P50s.

“Safelincs were an easy company to do business with,” commented Steve Clode, Facilities Manager, Empire Cinemas. “The solution they have provided gives us the very latest in fire extinguisher technology, whilst enabling us to achieve significant cost savings over the coming years.”

Construction company benefits from strength and versatility of P50

p50-foamBowmer & Kirkland, a very successful UK construction, engineering and development group, is investing in P50 foam extinguishers for the majority of its construction sites.

With more than 100 active sites working across all sectors throughout England, Wales and Scotland, on-site safety is paramount for the Bowmer & Kirkland Group. Every installation has to be equipped with appropriate fire extinguishers. Previously this had meant a mixture of water or AFFF, dry powder or CO2 extinguishers.

Investing in P50 foam extinguishers enables the company to simplify the types of appliances employed whilst still covering all eventualities. P50 foam extinguishers can be utilised on Class A and Class B fires, and are safe for use on live electrical equipment up to 1000 volts at a distance of one metre. This means that on many sites a single type of extinguisher can be employed instead of three.

P50s are constructed from a very strong composite material and are not susceptible to dents, rust or corrosion like standard extinguishers. Models with anti-freeze additives remain operational down to temperatures of -10 °C.

As well as reducing the overall number of extinguishers required, Bowmer & Kirkland now has portable fire fighting equipment that is especially suited to the extreme conditions on some of its sites.

Keeping holidaymakers safe for ten years

villa-plusIt’s nearly ten years since Safelincs first started working with Villa Plus, a company providing over 1,250 holiday villas across 14 European destinations. Safelincs is depended upon to ensure that all Villa Plus’ accommodations are equipped with the necessary safety equipment.

Fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and domestic first aid kits are sent by Safelincs to a shipping company in the UK for distribution to Villa Plus properties around Europe. The goods are packaged separately in line with each region’s requirement and labelled accordingly.

“Safelincs extensive range of safety products and their ability to meet our specific shipping requirements to different regions makes them an ideal partner to work with. As we grow and launch villas in new and existing destinations Safelincs will be a valuable provider,” says Nick Cooper, Villa Plus director and founder.

Harry Dewick- Eisele, managing director, Safelincs commented: “We pride ourselves on putting customers’ first. Building long-term relationships with organisations such as Villa Plus is a clear indication that our priorities are correct.”

Renowned private school opts for service-free fire extinguishers

Private SchoolOne of the most distinguished and prestigious private schools in the country has opted to reduce the cost of extinguisher provision by purchasing service-free P50 extinguishers across its estate.

In all, over 1,000 appliances are being installed and commissioned by Safelincs engineers. Unlike traditional extinguishers, P50s do not require an annual service by an external engineer; nor do they need refilling after five years. After ten years they can be refilled and used for a further decade.

The reason for their comparative longevity lies in their construction, which uses materials that are totally corrosion-free. Each year, a simple visual inspection by a member of the school’s own facilities team is all that is required and if new members of staff need to know what to do, they can view a video on the Safelincs website.

The decision by this distinguished educational establishment will see it save servicing costs over the coming years – and will be a contributing factor in ensuring that its young boarders remain safe at all times.

UK’s Chief Fire Officers and Safelincs launch new online fire safety shop

Chief Fire Officers AssociationCFOA, the Chief Fire Officers Association, through their subsidiary Blue Watch and in partnership with Safelincs, have launched a fire safety shop offering information and fire safety products for landlords, tenants and home owners. The site is a one-stop shop to allow residential users to select the products most suitable for their application, safe in the knowledge that the products have been carefully selected and are suitable for them. Each category of buyer has its own selection of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers to choose from.

The website will help increase fire safety awareness and raises funds for CFOA to allow it to promote its fire safety messages in an environment of government cutbacks.

Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director, Safelincs, commented: “I am very pleased Safelincs has been chosen by the CFOA to create and run the Blue Watch Shop website. It is a testament to our reputation and high level of customer satisfaction that such a prestigious organisation has entrusted us to manage its sales operations.”

The site will sell a selection of smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide alarms with Safelincs managing and fulfilling all orders on behalf of the CFOA.
Bluewatch Website