High value and safety critical industries such as aluminum are not strangers to risk. Fire is one such risk. And yet the fi re safety is often neglected or misunderstood. Many in fire safety positions do not understand the physical properties of the fi re extinguishing systems in place, which are installed to put out fires once started. The gases contained in cylinders - the chemicals that put out the fire once the system has been activated – are also misunderstood. This article aims to close gaps in the knowledge about fire safety for those unaware about fixed fire extinguishing systems and to share innovative methods for inspection and continuous monitoring of these systems, which even the most experienced may not yet know.
Typically, aluminum does not burn but its melts at very high temperatures. The heat is conducted away so the temperature will rapidly increase elsewhere in the vicinity. The need for comprehensive fire safety measures, specifically the fixed fire extinguishing systems in Aluminum production and fabrication, in cast houses, foundries, recycling and reclamation plants. The super high temperatures, at which aluminum is handled especially at molten points, sow casting and charging. Fine aluminum particles are particularly prone to ignition.
Fixed gaseous extinguishing systems
These gases leak. It is not a widely promoted fact in the fi re safety industry, except by some experts, and by those who understand the physics behind pressurised gases. If the agent leaks, they may be insufficient gas to suppress a fire in the event they are activated. If there is no agent, the fire will continue to burn and may lead to catastrophe by loss of life, and certain business downtime. They are active and dynamic systems, which require ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment for constant monitoring to ensure safety of life, and increase resilience and business continuity. Thus, saving time and cost long-term by improved monitoring.
Constant Monitoring of Systems:
Aluminum plants are expensive to build and maintain. It generates significant heat. The value of them is very high but the value of their inability to sustain business continuity is likely to be higher than their physical assets. And yet Insurers are asked to underwrite them and the fire industry to deliver their protection at the cheapest price. Who today would consider installing an alarm system without monitoring its overall daily status - not only on its actuation - and then integrate the alarm system into the building management system, with central monitoring being essential? Who would build plant fitted with power generating auxiliary machinery, without installing emergency power systems or monitoring their condition states? These are basic engineering principles of building redundancy into one’s systems and subsequently monitoring one’s systems. There are clear advantages for the plant and insurers.
Coltraco Ultrasonics is a British designer and manufacturer of ultrasonic solutions for improving safety. Coltraco aims to be the lead technical authority in the constant monitoring of liquefied and non-liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems contents during the life of the system once it is installed and commissioned. Coltraco achieve this through 30 years’ experience since inventing the first handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator Portalevel® - today available in nine models including soon an Intrinsically Safe ATEX Zone 1 variant. Coltraco’s ability to establish the liquid contents of liquefied clean agents – through UL & ABS approved Portalevel™ MAX has led to the research and development into the innovative monitoring system Permalevel™ Multiplex. Once the liquid level is identified, Coltraco can establish the agent’s weight and mass – through Portasteele™ Calculator (the world’s first product capable of this). These Safesite® solutions enable the safety managers to pinpoint exactly when and if a leak in agent occurs – enabling rapid rectification of the issue by organising a refill of agent. Such effective, easy to use, accurate and reliable solutions can improve the facility’s fire safety measures.
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