Engineering systems in manufacturing, industrial buildings: Fire and life safety

Manufacturing and industrial facilities have some unusual engineering requirements, especially fire and life safety systems.


Jonathan Eisenberg, PE, Associate Manager, Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc., Boston. Courtesy: Rolf Jensen & AssociatesBrian P. Martin, PE, PDX Electrical Discipline Manager, CH2M Hill, Portland, Ore. Courtesy: CH2M HillPeter Pobjoy, PE, LEED AP, Chief Design Officer, Southland Industries, Los Angeles. Courtesy: Southland IndustriesPeter Zak, PE, Principal, GRAEF USA, Milwaukee. Courtesy: GRAEF USA


Jonathan Eisenberg, PE, Associate Manager, Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc., Boston

Brian P. Martin, PE, PDX Electrical Discipline Manager, CH2M Hill, Portland, Ore.

Peter Pobjoy, PE, LEED AP, Chief Design Officer, Southland Industries, Los Angeles

Peter Zak, PE, Principal, GRAEF USA, Milwaukee  

CSE: Describe a fire suppression system you specified or designed in a manufacturing or industrial facility recently. 

Pobjoy: We specified a dry chemical system as the primary fire protection system for a critical data center. The secondary system consisted of a pre-action valve operated by heat detectors, which fed a dry pipe sprinkler system with fusible link sprinkler heads.

Eisenberg: We designed foam/water suppression systems for internal and external tank protection for a facility that utilized kerosene (a combustible liquid) as part of the manufacturing process. The internal tank protection consisted of foam pourers that provided a blanket of foam across the surface of the kerosene. Externally, we protected the process tanks with foam monitors.

CSE: When working with highly combustible materials, what unique fire suppression systems have you specified?

Martin: When dealing with the storage of volatile hydrocarbon hazards, a good flame detection system that triggers foam suppression is usually an excellent solution to the hazard. However, another design that should be considered is a water mist solution. When properly engineered it will provide many of the advantages of foam with fewer drawbacks. NIST provides an excellent technical write-up of the system. With either system, another frequently overlooked consideration is the source of the ignition. Unless the fire is the result of spontaneous combustion, electrical circuits are usually part of the equation. 

Eisenberg: One of our projects involved protection of outdoor chemical process enclosures that are normally unoccupied. The hazardous materials being processed in equipment within these enclosures are water reactive. Our approach was to design CO2 systems for the enclosures, as an alternate, non-water based suppression method. 

CSE: With regard to mass notification and emergency communication systems, what code changes do you anticipate in the near future? 

Eisenberg: We are monitoring the federal Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFATS) for changes that could impact emergency communication systems (ECS) on industrial sites. Also, communication and effective notification of employees and emergency responders on specific material hazards and properties is undergoing change right now. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is going into effect, which will change the marking of chemicals from the widely known Hazardous Material Identification System/NFPA diamond ratings to a different system. 

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Machine design tips: Pneumatic or electric; Software upgrades; Ethernet advantages; Additive manufacturing; Engineering Leaders; Product exclusives: PLC, HMI, IO
Industrial wireless cyber security: More complex than black and white; IIoT at the I/O level; Process modeling; Cyber security research
Robotic advances: Software, form factors; System-based ROI; Embedded control; MES and information integration; SCADA and cyber security; Position sensor; Controller, I/O module
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle