Emergencies turn spotlight on fire safety measures

Paul Boughton

The recent international spate of oil and gas fires hasonce againfocused the industry’s attention on the need for increased vigilancethe adoption of ‘best practice’and the utilisation of the most effective fire safety measures. Andrew Shiner reports.

The oil and gas industry’s workforce is probably among the best trained of any industry when it comes to fire safety. Companies are to be commended for the way in which commercial competition is put aside where fire safety issues are concernedas is evidenced by the work of such organisations as the UK’s JOIFF (Joint Oil and Industry Fire Federation).

Productionprocessing and storage facilities are constructed with meticulous careand with due attention paid to fire safety management. Howeverwhen fires do occurfirefighting systems are tested to the limit.

And the recent international spate of oil and gas fires has focused attention on the need for increased vigilancethe adoption of ‘best practice’and the utilisation of the most effective fire safety measures. They have also highlighted the wisdom of adopting a broaderstrategic approach to foam stocks and the development of closer working relationships between the petrochemicals industry and those companies best positioned to offer expert advice and deliver integratedindustry-specific agent and delivery system solutions.

An example of this close co-operation is an initiative implemented by Tyco Fire & Security. The company has recently taken a lead by strategically locating emergency stocks of foam concentratesufficient to meet any eventuality. By working closely with its customersparticularly when they are updating their risk assessments and contingency plans for each sitethese stocks are constantly being relocated as and when necessary to reflect local supply and availability conditions.

The company has also continued to invest in the development of ever more efficient leading-edge foam firefighting agents and delivery systems for the industry. Tyco’s Skum semi-subsurface system for storage tank protection was the first of its kind on the marketand Skum’s sophisticated fixed delivery solutions for cone roof tanksopen-top floating roof tankscovered floating roof tanks and horizontal tanks also include sub-surface and over-the-top systems.

The latest generation of Skum fixed and mobile delivery systems does away with the need for the massive and urgent deployment of equipment and firefighting personnel.

These monitors have been designed to also ensure that a fire is responded to in the shortest possible timeso reducing the potential for it to develop into a major incident. They are all noted for such characteristics as long throw capability and fast knock-down.

Many incorporate features not readily found on other systems on the marketsuch as electric remote control of monitors rather than the more common reliance on hydraulic power. This enables a fire to be fought effectively from a greater distanceso significantly reducing the risk to firefighters’ lives.

Andrew Shiner is with Tyco Fire & Security’s Fire Suppression GroupGreat YarmouthNorfolkUK. www.skum.com

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