Web Tech: Tank Fire Suppression, Quake Fire Study, Respirator Test Procedures

Mega-Tank Ambush Fire Suppression System

Williams Fire & Hazard Control (WF&HC), a Tyco company, introduced its Ambush Type II and III combination full-surface and seal fire protection system this week at the 2012 the International Liquid Terminals Association Conference & Trade Show in Texas. The Ambush system, WF&HC says, "is the first system that combines Type II and Type III foam applications for large external floating roof storage tanks."

"The system fills a need in the new mega-tank marketplace by providing a viable alternative to Type III ground assaults on large tank fires...," explains Steve Grisko, general manager, WF&HC Operations. Some features of the Ambush system include the following:

  • It has a fixed/semi-fixed system of component.
  • It is installed on the rim of the tank.
  • It addresses the primary fire-related hazards of open floating roof tanks: seal fires and fully involved surface fires.
  • It has a multi-nozzle configuration that delivers rich foam applications simultaneously to the internal wall and directly toward the center of the tank to extinguish seal and fully involved surface fires in the largest of tanks.
  • The system relies on proven FootPrint foam-run dynamics to produce a dense foam application that blankets the entire surface.

In a recent test, six Ambush units attached to the rim of a 277-foot tank yielded a foam application that reached a density of .1493 gallons per minute (gpm)--covering the tank's surface in one minute, 30 seconds. The collective flow rate reached 9,000 gpm (1,500 gallons per unit per minute).

With regard to seal protection, the system protected three times the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) recommended minimum performance standard distance for chamber foam runs of a 40-foot foam run in under two minutes. In the Ambush system test, an area of 120 feet of the seal area was protected in less than two minutes.

For more information, contact Kathleen Dohearty at (414) 459-3946 or kdohearty@branigan.biz.

WPI Research Team Studying Post-Earthquake Fires

Researchers from the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at Worcester (MA) Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will be conducting groundbreaking tests this week to gain a better understanding of the effects of earthquakes on building systems designed to suppress or prevent the spread of fires. An objective of the tests, part of a major $5 million study supported by a coalition of government agencies and industry partners, will be to determine what can be done to keep high-value buildings, such as hospitals and data centers, operational in the aftermath of earthquakes.

The study is being conducted on the nation's largest outdoor shake table at the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the University of California, San Diego. Previously, a full-scale, five-story building, equipped with a working elevator, sprinkler systems, an intensive care unit, a surgery suite, and computer servers, was subjected to a series of simulated earthquakes, some of which registered as high as 7.9 on the Richter scale. During the three weeks of this seismic testing, engineers monitored the building's performance through more than 500 channels of data from a wide range of sensors.

Brian Meacham, associate professor of fire protection engineering at WPI, is heading the fire testing. This phase of the study began during the seismic experiments during which time the effects of the shaking on installed fire protection systems were regularly observed. The overall goal is to gather data that will help engineers to improve modeling of the fire performance of earthquake-damaged buildings--determining how fire protection systems might fail in an earthquake and how the fire and smoke might spread. Meacham says this information will lead to the designing of more resilient systems and to improved protection of people and property.

The seismic tests included shaking with and without a base isolation system--large cylindrical rubber bearings that isolated the 80-foot-tall building from most of the lateral motion it would normally experience during a quake. After each phase, WPI researchers entered the building to inspect passive fire protection components, including doors, ceiling systems, partition walls, and firestop materials, to assess the effects. Any compromising of these systems in an earthquake could allow flames and smoke to spread and air to enter a room to feed a fire. The conditions of active fire suppression systems, particularly sprinklers, were also inspected.

Next week, the WPI team will conduct a series of fire tests on the building's third floor. The tests will include igniting pans of heptane, a liquid fuel that burns hot enough to simulate full burning within a compartment. The researchers will use temperature and smoke movement sensors to assess how the simulated earthquakes affected the ability of the active and passive fire protection systems to contain fires and prevent the spread of smoke.

Meacham says the data gathered through this research could help be used to develop more effective fire codes and "lead to new multi-hazard computer models that could help architects and engineers design safer buildings."

The seismic testing is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, the California Seismic Safety Commission, the Charles Pankow Foundation, and a consortium of industry partners. The fire testing is supported by the California Seismic Safety Commission, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Hilti, ARUP, and several industry partners.

More information about the overall project can be found at http://bncs.ucsd.edu. You may also contact Michael Dorsey, director of research communications, WPI, at (508) 831-5609, mwdorsey@wpi.edu

NIOSH procedures for Correlation Performance Tests for Respirators

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) has announced procedures for participating in the Correlation Test Program under 42 CFR Part 84 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Final Rule published in Federal Register in March (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-08/pdf/2012-4691.pdf. This final rule revised and updated the requirements for testing and certification of closed-circuit escape respirators (CCERs) and introduced the use of an automated breathing and metabolic simulator to be used during testing as part of the approval process.

The Correlation Testing Program will consist of two tests:

  • Performance Tests of As-Received and Environmentally Treated Closed-Circuit Respirators; and
  • Capacity Tests of As-Received and Environmentally Treated Closed-Circuit Escape Respirators.

The Standard Test Procedures for the Correlation Testing Program and for the other CCER performance requirements are available from NIOSH for review. These procedures are subject to modification as they are incorporated into the certification program.

There is no charge for the testing. This program was designed to enable potential CCER applicants to correlate or calibrate their automated breathing and metabolic simulator to the automated breathing and metabolic simulator NPPTL will use as part of the CCER approval process.

Data obtained from testing will be provided only to the applicant. NPPTL will not make any judgments related to whether tested units meet the new approval requirements. Testing results may be provided to the public, but the identity of the product or the applicant will not be disclosed. Test results from the Correlation Test Program are not applicable as pre-test data for a respirator approval application.

The CCER Correlation Test Program shall be in effect until November 15, 2012. For additional information concerning the application requirements and process, contact Jeff Peterson, (412) 386-4018, JPeterson@cdc.gov. For information concerning details and copies of the Standard Test Procedures, contact Tim Rehak, (412) 386-6866, TRehak@cdc.gov.

If you have a product or service you would like considered for this column, please contact maryjd@pennwell.com.

Mary Jane Dittmar is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor's degree in English/journalism and a master's degree in communication arts.

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