Some people argue that innovations in industrial fire and emergency response have been slow to come in the last few decades. I disagree with that sentiment enormously.
Innovation is a matter of ideas, not just devices. For example, take the new 3,000 gallon per minute Ferrara pumper recently delivered to the Refinery Terminal Fire Company in Corpus Christi. (See page 12.) Somebody had the brilliant thought of marrying that new fire truck to the latest generation foam proportioning system, Foam Pro’s AccuMax 3300 Multipoint Injection, providing fully automatic foam proportioning regardless of changes in flow or pressure. The end result has put RTFC years ahead in calculating the exact quality of foam delivered to the fire. Manipulating to find the best ratio of foam to water is no longer subject to bad math and guesswork.
Accuracy like that was unheard of when Industrial Fire World came into being almost 30 years ago. Back then an industrial fire truck rarely amounted to more than a 1,000 gpm foam truck. Bigger nozzles needed bigger pumps and vice versa. Rather than a dramatic leap, innovation is often a matter of steady increments. Today, a 3,000 gpm pumper connected to a plant fire water system flowing thousands of gallons a minute at 175 psi means delivering as much as 6,500 gpm..
For those people who will not be satisfied with anything less than flying cars and spaceships, how about the eye-opening advances in wireless alarm systems. Again I refer you to one of the advertisers found within these pages, CWSI.
What hinders efforts to expand and improve most alarm systems in industry? The answer is time and expense. It means running miles of new wiring throughout the facility. All that wiring will require explosion proof conduit for protection. Add to that a lot of ditches needed to protect the conduit.
Commercial Wireless Systems International’s wireless fire alarms merge seamlessly with conventional addressable systems already in place. Wireless monitoring modules make it possible to monitor and even interact with existing equipment such as hard wired fire alarm panels made by other manufacturers.
Industrial applications range from plant evacuation and emergency reporting to flow, tamper and post indicator valve monitoring. The CWSI alarm system, including smoke detectors, manual pull stations, CO detectors, monitoring modules, control panels and repeaters, are presently in use in more than 200 industrial facilities worldwide. Wireless relay interfaces can also be provided to perform remote control functions in the field.
However, innovations do not always have to be high tech marvels. Another IFW stalwart is an evacuation training aid known as “What Now???” Quite simply, What Now??? is a door sized full color cutout representing billowing flames. For example, workers following their primary escape route during a fire drill suddenly find What Now??? blocking their path. It teaches them to be flexible and use alternate escape routes if an exit is blocked.
So why not just tape a sign to the door with the magic words “Exit blocked by fire?” People need something more dramatic to shake them out of complacency. It is not unheard of for fire drill participants to walk past “exit blocked” signs. “That must be a mistake,” they think to themselves as they mindlessly continue along their primary escape route.
What Now??? establishes immediately that the people conducting this fire drill mean business. It challenges the participants to think for themselves, much the same way as will be necessary in a real event. It is more than just a visual aide. It stimulates the split second creativity that can keep a person alive in hazardous circumstances.
Anyone who doubts that such circumstances will ever intervene in their lives need only visit IFW’s Incident Log. Not just the single page found in every issue of the magazine but the complete listings at our website at www.fireworld.com. The Incident Log on page 22 reports, at most, 75 major emergencies. To date for 2014 our website Incident Log lists more than 1,300 industrial emergencies worldwide large enough to make the evening news.