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In fire protection, every second is crucial, especially in high-risk infrastructure buildings, such as power plants. They need fire protection systems that are autonomous and not dependent on unreliable municipal water pumps or electricity supplies. Therefore many industrial buildings have their own water reservoirs with piping and pumps located a fair distance away from the area they are serving to protect.
Providing maximum safety against fire for one of the largest oil drilling facilities in the world, Shell’s FPSO in the Gulf of Mexico, was an extremely challenging task. With drilling up to a depth of up to 9 km and a production rate of 50,000 barrels of oil, the rig is a high-risk fire zone.
The June 2019 explosion at the Philadelphia Refinery was described as being like a nuclear eruption. Fires at refineries are, unfortunately, all too common often taking a tragic toll in human life.
Pressure surges can occur in fire protection systems as the result of sudden velocity or flow direction changes such as the quick opening or closing of a valve or the sudden starting or shutting down of a pump.
The design of fire protection systems is a complicated process that requires an integrated approach and a high level of expertise. System designers and engineers need to take a large number of factors into account while also understanding and complying with stringent local, regional, and international standards.
Fire pumps are used to supply fire protection systems with pressurized water to ensure the smooth operation of the system's extinguishing devices. Because the fire pump's performance has a direct impact on the performance of the entire system, it is crucial to ensure it is functioning correctly.
Water surge or water hammer is a pressure wave in a piping system caused when a fluid in motion is forced to stop or change velocity or direction suddenly. Pressure surges in fire water systems can be caused by a number of different factors, such as a valve closing or opening too quickly or a pump starting or shutting down suddenly. This momentum change can create a significant and potentially damaging pressure rise.
Most fire protection systems are designed to operate at a maximum working pressure of 12 barg (175 psi). Pressure waves from water hammer or pressure surge can easily exceed 50 barg (740 psi), thus creating a very real threat of damage to piping and instrumentation.
The pictures below show two examples of catastrophic damage to piping and accessories caused by water surge/water hammer in fire protection systems.
In municipal fire pump applications, a water booster pump is often used to take water from a public service main or private use water system. The booster pump serves the purpose of increasing the existing water pressure to one suitable for the fire protection system. When designing or installing such a water booster pump, it is important to consider certain critical issues specific to water booster pumps.
This video presents the basic installation and the initial priming instructions for a BERMAD 7BM pre-action valve from the time you receive it, through to the installation and initial operation.
A fire event can cause untold damage to property. But sometimes the extinguishing water can do as much damage to protected items as the fire itself. This includes such places as computer rooms, film archives, museums and other moisture-sensitive areas. In such areas where a false alarm can be catastrophic and the deployment of water should be restricted to the fire area alone, rather than the whole building or room, it can make sense to use a preaction fire protection system.