We speak to fire-suppression expert, Michael van Niekerk from ASP Fire, about why adopting effective fire-suppression solutions designed for specific, special fire risks in commercial situations is a business imperative.
It is a mistake to regard fire-suppression as a grudge purchase that needs to be adhered to largely because of the law and building regulations. Installing the correct equipment that will contain and suppress a fire should be a high priority for any business that is potentially at risk. So says fire-suppression expert, Michael van Niekerk, from ASP Fire: “The topic of fire suppression is a complex one, and businesses should not automatically approach it in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.”
He says that today, it isn’t always enough to simply install smoke alarms and a few sprinkler heads – not only is this not necessarily the most cost effective and practical solution, but it also poses the threat that should there be a fire, your business could be down for a few days or weeks afterwards for repair and restoration of the damaged equipment. “Before purchasing a fire suppression system, it is important to understand what it is you are trying to achieve. Yes, you are trying to put out fires, but that is in essence an incomplete requirement. The real business requirement is to put out the fire before it can cause damage and get your business back up and running within hours,” he explains.
When designing a fire protection system, van Niekerk says that the challenge is to select the right suppression system to match the risk: “At ASP Fire, we offer solutions to keep people, property and the environment safe with a range of high performance suppression products. ASP Fire provides an individual assessment of each location and then applies products to suit each unique environment. We can help you make the right product choice so that you can be sure of best-in-market protection for the hazard at hand.”
To this end, ASP Fire recently added two incredibly innovative fire-suppression solutions to its range of offerings – the Firetrace self-activating fire-detection and suppression system that can suppress fires in seconds, and the T-Rotor Technology water and foam misting technology, which includes T-Rotor Technology systems for localised protection, hand held extinguishers, fast response back-packs and vehicle protection systems.
Says van Niekerk: “These systems are ideal for a number of various applications, including:
• CNC machines: enclosed automated milling machines, EDM machines, robotic welding machines, plastic injection moulding machines
• Electrical cabinets and controls: server rooms, computer racks, PLC and process automation control cabinets, critical data processing equipment, UPS cabinets, medical equipment, switchgears
• Mining and Industrial equipment: mining vehicles and machinery, forklifts, plant machinery engine protection, paper pulping machines, farming equipment
• Fume cabinets: chemical storage, research and development labs, chemical production, pharmaceutical labs, university and school labs
• On-road vehicles and mass transit vehicles: Buses, electric trains, school buses, para-transport vehicles, emergency vehicles and shredder trucks
• Commercial environments: Commercial kitchens (gas griddles, fryers, ovens), petrol stations (underground petrol tanks)
The I-Cat Firetrace System
The I-Cat Firetrace system is a low-maintenance, cost-effective solution for micro-environment fire protection, where the hazard was contained within a specific piece of equipment, such as machines, vehicles and storage compartments, van Niekerk explains: “These systems can be installed in most enclosed spaces where high-value assets are located and can also be designed for areas where there was no water available.
“These low-pressure systems cause no thermal shock, have a long operational life, allow for on-site refilling of the systems, are electrically non-conductive and use sustainable, clean technology, and can even be used with any other external fire- detection systems. Further, the Firetrace tubes comprise a specially formulated polymer, with a detection and delivery mechanism, which can also be used to provide an immediate overview of where the fire started and occurred.”
The I-Cat T-Rotor Technology Solution
The I-Cat T-Rotor Technology solutions comprise extinguishers that use a combination of water and foam mist – namely the Roto-Fire-Pac fire extinguisher pack, and the T-Rotor Technology vehicle-protection systems and localised protection systems. Both these systems use water and/or foam in a mist form, as opposed to traditional fire extinguishers that use either foam or dry chemical powders.
The misting technology of the T-Rotor Technology uses a small rotor unit that atomises water and charges it with kinetic energy, creating a fine atomised mist, with a size of between 50 microns and 60 microns at water pressure of 3 bar, in a mobile unit. Says van Niekerk: “The SABS-approved T-Rotor Technology uses water as the main agent and nitrogen as a propellant. They can extinguish all types of fire, including rubber and plastic fires, kitchen cooking oil fires, diesel and petrol fires, and electrical fires rated up to 245kV. Using water and nitrogen is safer, more effective and saves on maintenance and service costs – all of which are major benefits to any business.”
Each litre of water amounts to 120m2 of coverage capability, making it extremely safe and efficient. The small quantity of water used also results in little to no redundancy, damage or environmental contamination. Further, the localised vehicle protection systems can be applied to face shovels, rope shovels, loaders and continuous miners, including any mobile machine or equipment, while the localised protection systems can be used on conveyor belts, transformers, gen sets and hydraulic power packs.
“Implementing fire suppression as a physical security control is not so straightforward – it requires knowledge of business risk acceptance, understanding of maximum tolerable downtime, and of course, the right budget. It also requires an in-depth knowledge of fire hazards. By involving a fire-suppression expert, such as ASP Fire, in the equation, you can be sure that you not only have the best fire-suppression for your particular needs, but that you also meet all necessary regulation requirements,” concludes van Niekerk.
Operational features of Water Mist technology from ASPFire:
• The I-Cat Water Mist range boasts an operational time span four to five times longer than standard dry chemical powder extinguishers to ensure greater cost-savings.
• The EXTINGUISHmist fire extinguisher emits a superfine atomised mist that quickly expands and forms an inert atmosphere in the fire zone.
• The extinguisher has a high degree of dispersion and forms a large screening surface, or halo, shielding the operator from the heat radiation caused by a fire.
• The small amount of water sprayed from the EXTINGUISHmist – only 6ℓ per minute – guarantees longer-lasting fire-fighting capacity of up to four times, compared with traditional dry chemical powder extinguishers.
• A hand-held Water Mist fire extinguisher can suppress all types of fires without causing additional collateral damage to property, people, animals and the environment.
• The EXTINGUISHmist can be sprayed directly onto victims threatened by fire, enabling respondents to swiftly and effectively execute rescues.
• The extinguisher’s universal application across all common fire classes accelerates response times and reduces the need to carry multiple types of equipment.
• The EXTINGUISHmist portable fire extinguisher consists of a proprietary nozzle and T-Rotor unit, unique to I-Cat’s water mist and foam mist range.
• The EXTINGUISHmist technology is also available in a hose reel device that can be mounted onto fire trucks, vehicles and trailers.