Fluid management for industrial firefighting demands pumps tailored to the needs of the individual customer. Pentair PLC soon plans to make such specialized treatment part of its basic industrial fire pump product line.
Most commercial applications can be satisfied with standard UL- and FM-rated pumps straight out of the catalogue, said Andrew Crawford, Pentair’s North American sales manager for industrial fire. However, industrial applications are a “different kind of monster.”
“You might not have the life safety concerns found in a hotel or a hospital,” Crawford said. “Your concern may primarily focus on property damage in what is usually a highly flammable environment.”
Pentair, known for its Aurora, Aurora Edwards and Fairbanks Nijhuis pump brands, has always offered custom engineering in the configuration and installation of its fire protection products, he said. Now that service will be standardized in marketing Pentair pumps for industrial fire protection.
“It’s very rare that a cookie cutter approach works with industrial customers,” Crawford said. “We’re going to be working closer with the plants as to the design and installations each facility requires.”
For example, take an LNG facility on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, a facility that might have a different set of engineering requirements from a sister plant in another location.
“Salt water may be most handy for fire protection,” Crawford said.
A standard issue cast-iron, bronze fitted pump does not last very long in a corrosive salt water environment. Pentair’s solution is a variety of special metallurgies such as 316 stainless steel, duplex/ super duplex stainless steel and nickel aluminum bronze.
Other upgrades available may involve how the pumps are started, Crawford said. For a pump driven by a diesel engine, the customer might prefer electric starting over pneumatic starting, or the customer might want two electric starters as backup if one fails.
“There might be special requirements for the way the pump is tied into the plant infrastructure, such as a bypass on the valves,” Crawford said.”
A pump may need to be safety rated to operate in a flammable or explosive environment, Crawford said.
“It may be the only location available when retrofitting an extra pump,” he said. “We can build a package that is safety rated as Class 1, Division 2 under the National Electric Code, making it explosion-proof.”
These extras cited by Crawford are rarely offered as part of a standard commercial pump package, he said.
“At the heart of it, the pump installed may be the same pump we’ve been building for 100 years,” Crawford said. “We simply engineer it for the specific site.”
The engineering process will be much more intense with a greater emphasis on computer-aided diagrams, and piping and instrumentation drawings, he said. Depending on the requirements, panels and drivers may be custom engineered as well.
“If the pump is going on the coast, we might have to worry about wind load,” Crawford said. “If it’s going up on the prairie someplace, you may have to worry about snow loads. We’ve had to install pumps in Alaska that could not sit on the ground because of the permafrost. We had to elevate them on piers.”
The engineering capability to manage the additional work has long been in place at Pentair, he said.
“We’ve got a special team running these projects because the requirements are so much different as to the materials used and the documentation you must have,” Crawford said.
Pentair’s pump, valve and thermal control divisions offer a wide breadth of knowledge valuable in industrial fire protection.
“Sometimes the end user may not be as familiar with the codes involved as they should be,” Crawford said.
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