John Campbell of Stena Drillmax writes about the unprecedented ongoing assessment of the emergency response capabilities in all semi-submersible drilling units and drill ships of Stena Drilling Ltd.

Eurotunnel, the operator of the world’s longest undersea tunnel and one of its busiest rail routes, has chosen Sepura’s new STP8000 hand-held TETRA radio for its communications in emergency operations.

Jo Bird has long been recognised as a leading manufacturer of GRP storage cabinets for firefighting and lifesaving equipment in some of the most inhospitable climates in the world. The company’s latest order involves 24 insulated and heated cabinets that will house hydrants at the monumental Kashagan oil project in Kazakhstan. IFJ visited Jo Bird to find out more

Where do responders turn to when they need immediate hazmat advice?

George Privalov and James A Lynch of axonX introduce video image fire and smoke detection (VID) technology as it applies to industrial applications; present three case studies of companies who have successfully implemented the technology; and highlight the advantages and limitations of the system in each installation.

Thermal imaging cameras are increasingly finding their way into airport firefighting brigades where their applications are numerous, as Biggin Hill found out.

For the fire protection and fire prevention industries, the last decade has certainly witnessed some major events and change that will impact on these business sectors for the next decade to come. Here are just a few of the events that have introduced change in ABC MacIntosh since 1999 and all of the following have caused our business to pause and assess the implications for future development.

Recognising the need to have validated data on the risks associated with fires in large, open top floating roof storage tanks, 16 oil companies joined together to form a project group to thoroughly investigate these facilities. The project was known as LASTFIRE.

After it became known that Halon was to be decommissioned in Europe on 31/12/2003, a large refinery (let’s call it “Refinery1”) in the south of the Netherlands was required to find a replacement fire protection and detection system for its 30 floating roof tanks.

There is very little information on heat and flame protective PPE available to users other than from manufacturers and suppliers who naturally promote their products for sale. As a result, such information is restricted to the direction of the products that are being promoted, and the knowledge (or lack of it) of the sales person trying to promote it. Alec Feldman of Fulcrum Consultants, the executive arm of JOIFF, writes about some JOIFF initiatives taken recently to counter this potentially dangerous status quo.

Major industrial accidents have a huge impact on legislation. Ann-Marie Knegt met Thierry Tixier and Xavier Quayzin of APSYS, a risk assesment company that specialises in the high-risk industry.

If the definition of a highrise is 12 floors or more, then statistics show that there are currently over 120,000 highrise buildings around the world today. Firefighters and fire safety engineers alike are crying out for a risk-free way to handle evacuations from these types of buildings. Help is on the way, because Paul Monks of Dutch-based RVES is developing LifeSlide, a revolutionary new product that will put evacuees safely back on the ground in a matter of minutes.

Water mist is an old technology, and physics shows the obvious characteristic where small droplets evaporate faster than large droplets. However, the attempts to use water mist for fire fighting purposes in the 1930s and the 1950s were not as successful as one might think.

In ships and marine technology fire extinguishing systems for protection of galley deep-fat cooking equipment are becoming particularly popular. Over the past 10 years the use of more efficient cooking appliances and the increased use of vegetable cooking oils has increased the level of risk. Heating cooking oil to its auto-ignition temperature (around 365 °C) can lead to a very intense fire  that is very difficult to extinguish and which can involve the inside of the hood and exhaust duct – usually covered with grease and dust – resulting in an uncontrolled fire in the galley area.

The chemists at Hamburg-based company Dr Sthamer have been developing speciality foams for specific risks for a long time, explains Jan Knappert (International Sales Director), which is why the organisation has developed a clear idea of the type of information required to develop a specification that fully meets the requirements specified.

Dr. Howard Levitin, MD, FACEP is the president and founder of US company DQE, a hazmat decon supplier that began eighteen years ago as a research project into emergency preparedness. Levitin became interested in the role of hospitals in a hazardous materials incident after being confronted with two contaminated patients while working the night shift in the emergency department. While researching the methodology for handling contaminated patients in the ED he met a firefighter who was working to improve the design, quality, and dependability of portable decontamination equipment. They joined forces and the result is DQE.

Dallas Forth Worth is one of the largest airports in the US. It therefore requires a first line of attack that is able to respond within three minutes. Ann-Marie Knegt interviewed Jessie Gentry, Division Commander Fire Operations, about the new firefighting giants that were recently acquired by the airport.

Much has been written and reported about the effects of fire water run-off from large scale fire incidents. The problem isn’t new and there have been several landmark fires over the years to remind us that without careful planning disaster can strike – Allied Colloids, Bradford 1992, Sandoz, Basel 1986 and Buncefield, 2005 are seen as the worst case benchmarks for such incidents. Of course, Buncefield didn’t just force a reappraisal of groundwater contamination, it also highlighted the need to reappraise the risk assessments underpinning the approach to firefighting in storage depots. This article will focus on how foam proportioning itself can become part of the review process so that foam discharge is kept to the minimum whilst maximising firefighting capability and cost effectiveness.

As environmental concerns gain momentum in the industry, their domino effect is witnessed across industry sectors and markets. The fire suppression industry is not immune from these concerns, writes Konkana Khaund, Research Analyst, Environment and Building Technologies Practice, for Frost and Sullivan North America.

The history of Ulm and Iveco Magirus has been interwoven since Conrad Dietrich Magirus, Fire Commander of the City – and one of the founding fathers of the German fire service – invented the turntable ladder in 1872. 
Ann Marie visited Iveco to find out the latest developments.

Jean-Marc Vandekerchove tells IFJ: “Our range of products is designed to provide the professional firefighter with the best, most effective extinguishing agent for all known fire hazards with a minimum impact on the environment and human exposure.”

The petroleum and petrochemical industries have many hazards that can be briefly categorised.

Hughes Safety Showers recently launched a versatile decontamination unit in the Middle East. The Hughes MD4 is a standard decontamination unit with the British fire service for use at chemical spillages and major incidents.

Over the past decade, there has been a growing concern about the impact of foams on environment, due to scientific evidence of the detrimental effect of fluorinated compounds and their behaviour in the environment.

JOIFF would not wish to see this matter develop into one of needless tit-for-tat letter writing but we feel that due to the significant contribution from industry at the Buncefield incident, particularly from JOIFF Members, we would be failing in our duty to our members in not adding the necessary clarity to this matter which appears to be required.

Since 2000 and 3M’s announcement to phase out its PFOS-based fluorochemicals business, every year has brought its load of bad news over the fate of this peculiar class of compounds. But let’s get back to the past six years.

Class B foams are used to fight fires involving liquid hydrocarbon fuels and may also need to be alcohol-resistant (AR) for polar solvents, such as methanol or MEK. Aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) containing fluorosurfactants revolutionised this area of fire service operations when they were first introduced in the 1960s.

A definition of a competent person is someone who “having regard to the task that he or she is required to perform, and taking account of the size and/or hazards of the undertaking or establishment in which he or she undertakes work, he or she possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken.”

Almost four months ago, the fuels depots at Buncefield near Hemel Hempstead represented the UK’s fifth largest fuel distribution centres, used by BP, BPA and HOSL ( a joint venture between Total and Texaco. On December 11th, 2005, a severe explosion led to the loss of around 7.7 million gallons of oil, motor spirit and aviation fuel.

The Europe, Africa and Middle East Manager for Williams Fire & Hazard Control Inc, one of the world’s leading industrial firefighting companies, Kelvin Hardingham told IFJ:

An important element of the Buncefield industrial response was Lindsey Oil Refinery’s EV2 foam tender holding 11,000 litres of foam liquid. It carried two Knowsley dual-geared monitors which provided an output of 3,600 lpm from a foam branchpipe. They played an essential role in actively ‘knocking down’ some of the oil fires and creating strategic gaps for other fire teams to enter the area.

Bjorn Geeves is the CEO of Verfification Institute Ltd. previously IMI-International Measuring Institute, a certified statutory service supplier specialised in on-site inspection and measurements of Low Location Lighting (LLL) systems onboard ship. Before the IS0 15370 for LLL systems went into action, ship operators had to comply with the IMO Res. A.752(18), which is part of the SOLAS regulations.

Foam manufacturers have developed fluorosurfactant-free foams (FSFF) that have no long term detrimental environmental impact. There are numerous areas of application for this type of product, in particular with the European fire and rescue services.

The peace of a quiet morning on Sunday, December 11th, 2005, was shattered by a series of explosions at Buncefield, an oil depot  located just north of London - initiating the biggest fire of its type seen in Europe since 1945.

Halon 1301 and Halon 1211 were once regarded as the ‘wonder remedy’ when they were introduced in the 1960s. They were ‘clean agents’ which did not leave any corrosive or abrasive residues after use, unlike water, dry chemicals and foams which were associated with secondary non-fire damage.

The recent DDA and EN54 directive has once again placed emphasis on the importance of ensuring safety and warning systems are up to standard.  Not only that, but there is also now a need for companies to install more versatile systems that can cater for both the visually and audibly impaired.

It was five years ago that 3M announced (May 2000, shortly before InterSchutz 2000) that the company was withdrawing from fluorosurfactant manufacture using perfluorooctanyl sulphonate (PFOS) chemistry.

With the emergence of a new Class ‘B’ foam technology it is time for the industrial firefighting industry to examine the benefits of this technology,  Solberg Scandinavian AS has been involved with the manufacture of fire-fighting foams since the 1980s.

There should be no doubts that the blasts and fires at the Buncefield oil terminal, just outside Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, on the 11th December 2005 will be discussed and the outcomes debated for many years to come.

In a newsletter published in October 2006 from an American special interest group of foam manufacturers, the aquatic toxicity of firefighting foams is discussed.

Industry must still brace itself for the two months remaining of the 2005 Hurricane Season - but it has already been one of the most memorable and costliest years in living memory.

Alan N Beard, Civil Engineering Section, School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh), outlines some of the worrying factors surrounding the use of computer models for fire safety design.

Escape stairs and routes – coupled with the correct response of those in the buildings – save lives, as the World Trade Centre attack showed. Over 12,000 people were evacuated from the towers before they collapsed. Pat Cox highlights some of the lessons learned.

Arrangements for providing and siting gas detectors for open areas and gas turbine enclosures (1) are generally considered to be reasonably well understood. But there is little information on the provision and siting of gas detection systems for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) ducts supplying air to accommodation modules, temporary refuges or process areas, writes Kevin O’Donnell, Offshore Safety Division, Health and Safety Executive.

Stephen Korzeniowski (DuPont) and Tom Cortina (Fire Fighting Foam Coalition) reflect on the fluorine-free vs fluorinated foams debate that was brought to the fore during last year’s Reebok conference.

Bio fuels have already had a big impact on our everyday lives – even Virgin Atlantic has tested bio fuels in a 747 short haul flight – which means firefighters must be prepared for the added problems of extinguishing bio fuel fires. Luc Jacobs, Product & Environmental Manager, Arctic Fire Fighting Foams, showcases some results of recent foam tests on E95.

Gary McDowall of ABC MacIntosh and Thierry Bluteau of Bio-Ex foams remind readers that fluorosurfactants are still classified as organohalogens and as such remain prohibited under the UK’s Groundwater Regulations. What’s more, they believe that today’s new generation of fluorine-free foams put paid to the argument that reliability and performance can only be achieved through the use of film-forming foam.

Computer-based models are in widespread use today as part of fire safety design. However, there is considerable concern about whether or not the use of such models may be leading to unacceptable options being adopted, writes Dr Alan Beard.

  • Operation Florian

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