P50 service free extinguishers in the petroleum industry

Portable fire extinguishers in refineries and forecourts are exposed to weather and extreme temperatures and, on top of heavy handling, sometimes face a corrosive atmosphere. Traditional fire extinguishers, made from painted steel with an inner protective lining can corrode, often get dented, burst if the contents freeze and can experience detachment of the inner protective lining. All of these issues will lead to the extinguisher being condemned at the annual extinguisher service, resulting in you having to replace it.

This leaves the owners with replacement costs on top of the annual servicing charges, refilling charges every five years and the problem of supervising external subcontractors onsite. In larger refineries and production facilities the cost for supervision of every sub-contract engineer and issuing safety instructions can be significant.

During the annual service, traditional, stored pressure extinguishers are visually inspected from the outside and the pressure of the extinguisher is checked. Every five years, the extinguishers are opened, emptied and the inside is inspected for rust or lining detachment (showing as bubbles). The chemicals within the extinguishers are usually not re-used due to the fear of contamination from rust or the impact of moisture. In short, most of the inspection activities are linked to the fact the extinguishers are made of steel, can corrode and can be dented.

Britannia, a long established manufacturer of portable extinguishers in the UK, in partnership with Safelincs can offer a solution which addresses all these issues.

p50-extinguishersBritannia’s P50 fire extinguishers are made from composites and brass. The extinguishers have an inner 3-layered PA cylinder that contains the fire fighting agent and does not corrode or interact in any way with the chemicals. This cylinder is tightly wrapped in aramid fibre (Kevlar is the best know aramid), a fibre that is stronger than steel (per weight) and which takes up the pressure from the extinguisher. The extinguisher core is then contained and protected against UV light by a red plastic mantle. The head and valves are made from brass and stainless steel. The extinguishers are almost indestructible – even the most serious knocks will not damage the P50 extinguishers.

To test their resilience at the production plant, every 500th extinguisher is destruction tested: The extinguishers are pressurised 12000 times between zero and 25 bar. After this demanding test they are crushed flat by a metal blade and re-pressurised to over 55 bar without being allowed to burst or leak! In the tests P50 extinguishers actually only burst at around 85 bar!

These extinguishers are corrosion-proof and have a far superior pressure resistance than steel extinguishers. As the chemicals are not reacting with the cylinder, there is no need to refill the extinguisher after five years. The manufacturers of the chemicals have certified that the chemicals used in the P50 extinguishers will not require refilling for at least ten years. After the ten years, Safelincs, the main distribution partner of Britannia, offers an exchange service. The returned units are re-filled and can then be used for a further ten years!

As corrosion, lining detachment and dints will never be a problem for the P50 extinguishers; the only inspection requirement left is the verification of the internal pressure to detect any potential leakage. To give extra peace of mind Britannia has fitted two German-made pressure indicators to each extinguisher. Normal extinguishers only have one pressure indicator.

p50-indicatorsThe requirement to regularly check pressure indicators applies both to traditional extinguishers and the P50. The general recommendation is that extinguisher pressure indicators should be viewed in passing about once a month by end users to ensure that they are still showing the indicator needle in the green area of the indicator.

The real difference to traditional steel extinguishers is the replacement of the annual service by an external engineer with a simple annual visual inspection by the end users or their representatives. This inspection is boiled down to a very swift visual inspection of pressure indicators and the extinguisher outer body to check for any visual damage from the outside. This inspection is then recorded on the back of the extinguisher and in the company’s fire safety logbook. This visual inspection requires no skill or tools. Nevertheless, when Safelincs installs the extinguishers at the customer, they train site staff in the visual inspection process and will certify their training to confirm that staff are competent to visually inspect the extinguishers. As a back-up there is also a video on the Safelincs website that runs through the process.

The P50 extinguishers are kitemarked and LPCB approved. They are also CE marked and marine approved. All major insurance companies accept the reduced servicing regime, as long as evidence of the regular visual inspection is kept in the standard fire safety log books in the same way as for any other extinguisher types. Britannia offers a ten year guarantee for all P50 extinguishers, offering complete peace of mind.

P50 extinguishers are installed in refineries, petrol stations and many other outdoor locations. It was in one of the refineries that the extinguisher shown below was photographed after it had been run over by a van – it was still fully pressurised!


Cost benefits:

These composite extinguishers cost in the region of £100-£150, depending from order volume, including site survey, installation, training and certification. They save the customer the costs of the annual service and the five-yearly refills/replacement. Due to the refurbishment after ten years (at around half the price of a new P50) the lifespan of the extinguisher is twenty years.

A simple and conservative calculation, comparing it with Safelincs’ own and very competitive standard extinguisher range, identifies the savings. We have only considered a ten year period, although the savings over 20 years are of course much larger: The savings indicated below are per unit.

Traditional 6kg powder (steel) P50 Composite
Cost Qty Cost Qty
Extinguisher cost £32.99 1 £145.00 1
Installation+ commission £9.99 1 0
Annual service £7.99 8 0
Call-out (averaged over 5 extinguishers) £5.00 11
5 yearly refill £39.98 1
Disposal £3.57 1 0
Total 10 year costs £205.45 £145.00

As mentioned above, the real savings are higher when a 20 year period is considered. Larger customers are also achieving much better purchase prices in the first place.

Also, the P50 extinguishers have substantially higher ratings than traditional extinguishers, so that fewer extinguishers are required, offering even further savings:

Model 6kg powder 6l foam
TG PowerX 21A 144B C 13A 144B
(not suitable for electrical)
P50 Composite 43A 183B C 27A 183B Electrical

The P50s have more than double the A rating, allowing drastic reduction of numbers in offices and work places.

The P50 foam is also suitable for use on electrical equipment, allowing the replacement of the CO2 extinguishers found in many locations. Traditional foam extinguishers often do not have that capability!

To help our customers with the cost of the introduction of the P50 extinguishers, we offer additional options:

  • Phased introduction: We replace extinguishers as they become due for replacement, rather than exchanging them all in one go
  • Payments spread over a number of years

We will, of course, also remove your old extinguishers free of charge and dispose of them responsibly.

If you wish to find out how much the P50 can save you, please contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 or email service@safelincs.co.uk

Safelincs and Britannia exhibit at the APEA Live 2013 in Coventry

APEA Live 2013 is a trade show for the petroleum and explosives industry (APEA stands for ‘Association for Petroleum and Explosives Administration’). Safelincs and Britannia jointly exhibited the P50 service free extinguishers to the refinery and forecourt industry. The P50 is particularly well suited to the harsh refinery and forecourt environment and reduces the cost of compliance dramatically, as traditional yearly fire extinguisher inspections in a safety critical environment require members of staff to accompany the service engineers. The P50, which only requires a visual inspection once a year without any servicing activities cuts out these burdens. The extinguishers are simply visually inspected by regular site safety personnel who receive introductory training when Safelincs install the extinguishers. The extinguishers have a ten year warranty and after ten years the P50 are re-furbished, giving them a further ten year life.
The show was well attended and we met some well known faces and made some new and exciting contacts.

Business Development Manager Stuart Baxter said ‘The atmosphere at this event is really friendly and constructive. Everybody knows each other and I am looking forward to follow up some of the new contacts we made this year’

If you would like more information on our P50 service free extinguisher, please contact us on 0800 612 6537