Fires in wind turbines, nuclear plants, ships… where next?

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The risk of fire is prevalent across all safety critical and high value assets. People’s lives are endangered, infrastructure damaged and companies’ reputations decimated if the fire fighting systems do not extinguish the fire. A quick news round up of 3 fire incidences highlights the need for better maintenance, inspection and continuous monitoring of both the fixed fire extinguishing system and the room integrity.

1.Looking back to wind turbine fire in shadow of Saga nuclear plant, Japan

A wind turbine at the Kushizaki power plant in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, is on fire with black smoke pouring out on the afternoon of Aug. 21. (Provided by Junji Ota)

A 60-meter-high wind turbine near a nuclear power plant in northern Kyushu, Japan caught fire on 21st August 2017, posing difficulties for fire-fighting efforts from the danger of falling parts.

A fire department spokesperson said firefighters were unable to shoot water at the flames due to the fear of falling debris.

An official of Tokyo-based JFE Engineering Corp. said the wind turbine is operated by one of its affiliated companies. JFE Engineering said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Kushizaki plant in the city’s Chinzeimachikushi district is located about 700 to 800 meters from the Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Genkai in the same prefecture across the sea.

2.Ineffective Firefighting System and no Room Integrity results in evacuation and total loss of vessel

New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission has released its report into the tourist vessel PeeJay V which caught fire and sank because the main firefighting system was ineffective and staff did not fully understand how it should work.

On January 18, 2016, the PeeJay V was on an all-day excursion from Whakatāne out to White Island with 53 passengers and seven crew on board. The PeeJay V was near the end of the journey and approaching the Whakatāne Harbour entrance when fire broke out in the engine room.

The crew released the fixed CO2 fire extinguisher into the engine room, which suppressed the fire for a short time. However, the fire quickly escalated, forcing the skipper to order everyone to abandon the vessel. [sic] The PeeJay V burnt to the waterline and sank. One crew member suffered from smoke inhalation, but otherwise nobody else was seriously injured.[sic]

The Commission also found that the CO2 fire suppression system, which was supposed to work by displacing the air in the engine room with CO2, was not effective in suppressing the fire. This was because air was able to enter the engine room through several openings, including a cable duct that had no means of being closed.[sic]

Three main safety issues identified during the inquiry were:

  • Maritime Rules did not require the PeeJay V to have fire detection or automatic fire alarms installed even though it could carry up to 90 passengers and operate up to 12 nautical miles from the coast.
  • The CO2 fixed fire-fighting system installed in the engine room could not be fully effective in extinguishing the fire because the space it was protecting could not be fully closed down.
  • The builder and operators of the vessel did not fully appreciate the principles of how the CO2 fixed fire-fighting system operated.

Maritime rules did not require the PeeJay V to have fire detection or automatic fire alarms installed even though she could carry up to 90 passengers and operate up to 12 nautical miles from the coast. Maritime New Zealand has agreed to review the maritime rules about fire alarms and remote extinguishers in vessels of this type with enclosed engine spaces. It will also encourage people who design, install and use CO2 fixed fire-fighting systems to fully document and understand how these systems work.

NEWS SOURCE: BY MAREX 2018-01-28 17:08:21

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