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

It’s worth reading the ads!

Harrow CollegeWhen Ian Kavanagh, estates manager at London’s Harrow College, was leafing through his copy of FM Magazine, a Safelincs advert for the P50 range of extinguishers caught his eye. It was particularly pertinent since he had just had the annual maintenance carried out on both the campuses the college operates.

He was aware that, following on from the maintenance, a considerable amount of remedial work was required which would include replacing a significant number of the appliances.

The P50s attracted his attention because they have been developed so that they only require an annual check by a member of staff; they do not require servicing by an extinguisher engineer or a discharge test over their entire 10-year lifespan. After 10 years the extinguishers can be refurbished for a further 10-year service-free life.

Since a considerable amount of his budget goes on fire extinguisher maintenance, Kavanagh could see that the P50s had the potential to save money in the future. He contacted Safelincs who arranged to visit and demonstrate the extinguisher. It was explained that the P50’s construction, utilising Aramid fibres (a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers used in aerospace, military applications and ballistic-rated body armour fabric), is corrosion-proof. This removes the necessity for an annual visit from an engineer, as is the case with standard appliances.

Safelincs then carried out an in-depth site survey to identify which standard extinguishers could remain in service and the number of P50s that would be needed to be installed.

“I was very impressed with the P50s and the potential savings they offered,” commented Kavanagh. “Safelincs provided me with clear, honest information and I was happy to place an order.”

Engineers from Safelincs moved existing usable extinguishers across the sites, in accordance with Harrow College’s wishes, and fulfilled requirements to stagger the replacement of the extinguishers. In all, 92 P50s have been supplied, and a full location sheet of extinguishers and marked up floor plans provided by Safelincs. This will ensure that Harrow College’s internal security team, trained to inspect the P50s, can print out a copy and ensure that all extinguishers are checked annually.

The standard extinguishers that are still in service are maintained by Safelincs’ BAFE approved service engineers in accordance to BS5306. They will advise the college when they need to be exchanged for P50s.

The total cost to swap over to the P50 extinguishers was not much greater than the quotation received from the previous servicing company, and in the coming years major savings will be made through a vast reduction in maintenance costs.

P50 service free extinguishers ideal for prisons

HM PrisonsSeveral HM Prisons recently started the process of introducing the P50 service free extinguisher manufactured largely from composite plastics and aramid fibres (such as Kevlar). These kitemarked extinguishers are 100% corrosion proof and do not require annual servicing nor refilling after five years. In their first ten years of life they are simply visually inspected by the customer’s own personnel. This reduces external visits from contractors and makes the annual vetting of contractors, their equipment and any new fire extinguishers by security personnel unnecessary.

P50s delivered to a prison can easily be x-rayed, as there is no metal cylinder preventing the scan. Equally, when after ten years the extinguishers are being refurbished, the replacements can be brought on site without necessarily opening the extinguishers. While the extinguishers can be refilled easily, a special clamp is required to  open the extinguisher, without this the inner and outer body spin against each other without opening the cylinder head. Unauthorised attempts to open the extinguisher for storage of drugs and other illegal items are hence made more difficult. The dual pressure indicators of the P50 are magnetic so security staff can easily verify if a gauge has been tampered with.

The body of the extinguisher, due to it being manufactured from spun fibre has a degree of elasticity which reduces risk of injury if a person is attacked with an extinguisher.

While the main application of the P50 extinguishers lies in the FM market, churches, offices and agriculture, prisons are now becoming an important market for this product. If you would like to know more about the P50 extinguisher, please contact Safelincs on 01507 462176 or email service@safelincs.co.uk

Extinguisher run over by van – still pressurised!

We were always convinced that our P50 service free extinguishers made from a Kevlar-type aramid were almost in-destructable. Nevertheless, when one of our engineers was visiting one of our customers, a refinery on the east coast, he was surprised when he was handed a fire extinguisher that had been run over by a van and that it was still fully pressurised!

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This is not that surprising when you know that 1 in 500 of these extinguishers are tested by pressurising them 12,000 times from zero bar to 25 bar. And after they have undergone this harsh test, they are crushed flat by a steel blade before being re-inflated without being allowed to leak at 55 bar!

The P50 service free extinguisher is suitable for the harshest of environments, including outdoors.

District council saves £20,000 in extinguisher deal

Safelincs has installed 54 service free extinguishers for a Sussex district council in a deal that will save it an estimated £20,000 over the next ten years.

Unlike conventional extinguishers the P50 extinguishers do not require an annual service by an external engineer. They have been designed so that a simple check can be undertaken each year by one of the council’s staff, which is where the savings are made.

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P50 extinguishers installed in one of the district council buildings

The kitemarked P50 extinguishers are guaranteed for ten years after which they can be refilled and used for another ten years (most extinguishers need refilling after five years). The inner cylinder of the extinguisher is made from composite plastic which is cocooned by spun Aramid, the material bullet proof vests are made from. The metal elements are either brass or stainless steel which means that they are very strong and will not rust or corrode. All the materials used in the construction of the extinguishers are 100% recyclable.

“Installation and certification by one of the Safelincs engineers was included in the price,” explained John Rodway, safety advisor for the council.   “At the same time he demonstrated the straightforward annual checking process and if there is a change of staff, a short video on the Safelincs website runs through the procedure.”

The council has taken mainly foam extinguishers but also has three powder appliances for specialist areas. With no servicing costs for the next ten years it will save in the region of £2,000 annually.

Ismena Clout Endorses Safelincs’ P50 Maintenance-Free Fire Extinguishers

Ismena Clout of the BIFM recently endorsed Safelincs’ offering of P50 maintenance-free fire extinguishers .  P50s do not require any maintenance or service for ten years, saving FM companies substantial amounts of money.

“Sometimes a new product comes along that you know is going to alter the market, I believe that the P50 fire extinguisher from Safelincs is just such a product.  It saves clients and FM companies money and ongoing maintenance headaches; it really is a game-changing product.” said Ismena Clout.

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The BIFM is the professional body for facilities management in the UK. The Institute delivers a range of services and benefits, including information, qualifications, continuing professional development, training and networking for over 13,000 individual and corporate members.

P50 maintenance-free extinguishers (also known as Fireworld extinguishers) are manufactured by Britannia in Norfolk and are distributed and installed by Safelincs. We carry out the initial site survey and install the P50 extinguishers. Our BAFE certified engineers then train the customer or their FM provider in the visual annual check required, issue training certificates and the official extinguisher certification. Safelincs offers a refill service for any extinguishers emptied and, as a special service to our customers, replaces any extinguishers used to fight a fire for free. The P50s come with a ten year warranty and at the end of the ten years, Safelincs offers a full factory refurbishment to increase the lifespan by another ten years!

Ismena Cout is the Chairman of the BIFM

Maintenance-Free Fire Extinguishers – All The Facts

1) A long overdue solution

In an age where new cars do not require servicing for tens of thousands of miles despite demanding usage, it was always a bit of an anachronism that fire extinguishers, which usually see no action or use for their entire life, were required to be serviced every year and to be refilled after five years.

Finally, the fire safety industry has come up with a solution – P50 maintenance-free fire extinguishers. These extinguishers, once installed by our certified engineers, do not require an extinguisher service engineer to visit again for ten years, saving the customer substantial amounts of money!

med-approved-p50-fire-extinguisher2) What are maintenance-free extinguishers?

Most fire extinguishers contain a cocktail of aggressive chemicals which can quickly corrode metals. The traditional way of preventing this corrosion from damaging an extinguisher is to line extinguishers with molten plastic. This process always had its limitations as the lining can become detached from the wall, become porous or can be incomplete in the first place. As a result yearly inspections have been necessary.

P50 Maintenance-free extinguishers, on the other hand, contain the chemicals within a three-layered extruded composite plastic container. As these extinguishers, after being installed by our certified engineers, will only be visually inspected by our clients, the P50 extinguishers must have additional security features to ensure that, for example, the pressure indicator displays the status of the extinguisher correctly. This is achieved with duplicate pressure indicators. In addition one of these pressure indicators is magnetic so that the free movement of the needle can be checked with a magnet provided if in doubt.

Does the customer need to do anything?

Maintenance-free extinguishers must still be visually inspected by the customer or their representative as any other extinguishers, and once a year, the extinguisher’s age must be checked, the hose be looked into to spot any obstructions and the pressure indicator read to ensure it is in the green zone. If everything is ok, the back of the extinguisher is filled in with a marker pen and the finding logged in the fire safety logbook (the same as with any other extinguisher). If a problem is found, Safelincs simply replaces the extinguisher for free.

4) How are they made?

The main component of the P50 extinguisher is the inner composite plastic container holding the chemicals. This container is cocooned by Aramid fibre (which is the material bullet proof vests are made of). This tightly spun weave takes up the pressure from the filled extinguisher. To protect the Aramid from UV light, water and wear, the cocoon is covered by an outer cylinder made of UV protected rugged plastic.

P50 extinguishers are made in the UK.

5) How durable are these extinguishers?

P50 are tested not only to the EN3 extinguisher standard, which is a demanding standard. In addition they are also tested to the PED (Pressure Equipment Directive), the same standard that containers with pressurised explosive gas are tested to.

The extinguishers are pressured 12000 times from zero to 25 bar. They are then crushed by a metal blade and re-pressurised to over 55 bar without bursting or leaking. In actual fact they only burst at around 85 bar during this test.

6) Are they kitemarked?

P50 extinguishers are kitemarked by the British Standards Institute to EN3 and in addition certified by Apragaz. They are approved for marine use (MED approval) and boat use (Boat Safety Scheme) as well.

7) What is the insurance industry saying

Most major insurances have explicitly approved the P50 extinguishers, as long as they are installed by certified engineers. When the extinguishers are purchased, Safelincs’ certified engineers visit the customer, carry out a free site survey, the free install, free commissioning and certification and train the customer in the visual inspection mentioned above. We also always suggest that the customers notify their insurer about the modified extinguisher regime. To this end our engineer will hand the customer a letter to be sent to their insurance.

8) Where can these extinguishers be used?

The P50 foam extinguishers replace traditional foam, water and CO2 extinguishers in office environments, schools, nursing homes, animal husbandry and similar environments. The P50 powder extinguishers are used in engine rooms, refineries, farms and other challenging outdoor locations.

9) What happens after ten years?

After ten years Safelincs offers a refurbishment at half the price of a new P50 which gives the extinguishers another ten year lifespan.

10) Where can you buy P50 extinguishers?

To purchase P50 extinguishers in the UK, contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 or visit www.safelincs.co.uk. You can place an order and we will contact you to agree a date for the free installation and certification or you can ask for a free site survey before committing to a purchase. Financing options are also available to help spread the cost of the extinguishers.

11) How can the FM industry benefit?

P50 extinguishers are often offered by FM companies to their customers as part of their overall service package, as many large customers do not want to be involved at all in the fire extinguisher provision, maintenance-free or not. In these cases the FM companies simply request the P50 extinguisher provision from Safelincs whose certified engineers will carry out a free site survey to determine which extinguishers are required and where. Safelincs will then immediately carry out the free install, free commissioning and certification and the free training/instruction to whoever will look after the P50s. Safelincs then hands responsibility for the yearly visual inspection to the FM company. The FM company does not require any tools, specialist training, certification or refresher course for this visual inspection.

12) Can the P50 be phased-in?

If a customer has existing extinguisher provision where extinguishers do not expire all at the same time, we offer a staged introduction to make this process easier and most cost efficient.

13) Who has installed the P50 already?

MITIE, Kier, Legal&General, CofE, Catholic Church of UK, ShopDirect, Integral, Phillips 66, Mid Sussex District Council, Courtney Buses, Guys & St Thomas NHS,

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.

Maintenance Free Extinguishers are now MED approved

The Britannia P50 maintenance free extinguishers are now also MED (Marine Equipment Directive) approved and can be used on oil installations, rigs and ships. The extinguishers are already kitemarked, Boat Safety scheme approved and CE marked and had a very successful introduction. Now the MED approval opens an entirely new market.

The P50 range are robust and non-corrosive, making them an ideal extinguisher to install on boats and ships. Gaining the MED approval will give buyers the confidence to install this range of extinguishers. They are guaranteed for 10 years and do not require the usual discharge and refill after 5 years. No engineer visits, no consumables and no replacement components are needed for the entire lifetime of the extinguishers. Being maintenance free the P50 extinguisher will save you money and time. A quick annual visual check can be carried out by members of your staff after the initial installation and a short instruction session, which is included in the price, meaning you can verify yourself that your extinguishers are in working order no matter where you are.

The MED approved extinguishers are available as powder and foam. For more information, please contact our customer service team on 0800 612 6537

P50 Service Free Extinguishers reduce risk of infection for pig breeders

One of the UK’s leading pig breeding companies has recently started to introduce Safelincs’ P50 Fireworld service free extinguishers throughout its 20 plus farms. The initial driving force behind this initiative was the cost reduction which can be achieved by cutting out ten years of servicing and the refill after 5 years.

The P50 extinguishers are also particularly suited for a tough and muddy environment, as the components will not corrode or deteriorate, even when installed in the open. However, an even more important advantage became apparent after the first installations of the extinguishers were carried out at the first of their sites. Fire extinguisher service engineers in rural areas will cover many farms on their servicing runs and even when the engineers take special precautions to avoid carrying over infections from one farm to the next, the act of removing extinguishers from a site for refilling at the engineer’s base can carry a risk of spreading disease.

A common approach to stopping diseases spreading between farms is to stop an engineer coming on site. Instead, the engineer commonly works on the extinguishers outside of the farm and passes them back once work is complete. However, the same tools will be used as for all other farms and it is unlikely that the engineer is able to clean sufficiently beforehand or to keep the van sufficiently clean to stop passing on bacteria or viruses.

The P50 gets rid of this risk entirely. The Safelincs engineer will supply brand new units packed in original manufacturer’s packaging and will pass these extinguishers (without packaging) through the entry system of a clean farm. After showering-in, the survey and installation takes place and farm staff are trained in the visual inspection of the extinguishers. After that, the extinguishers will not require an outside person to assess the them for a full ten years reducing the risk of disease spreading.

If you are interested in discussing fire protection in your infection-controlled areas with us, please ring us on 0800 612 6537