Fire Wire is a quarterly fire suppression newsletter about 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid for specifying engineers, architects, and anyone working in special hazards fire protection.
Versatile wheeled units for flightline applications
All along the flightline, safety and performance matters. Multi-million dollar aircraft must be serviced, repaired and prepared for their next flight quickly and efficiently in order to ensure the safety of crew, cargo and passengers. And if a fire breaks out, it’s important to be able to extinguish it rapidly without further damaging expensive avionics or mechanical parts.
Wheeled units using 3M Novec 1230 fluid offer a powerful optimization of fire extinguishing performance and environmental sustainability. Designed to replace halon, Halotron® and dry chemicals, wheeled units using 3M Novec 1230 fluid are very similar in size to conventional Halon 1211 units, making the transition easier. Because 3M Novec 1230 fluid has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of zero and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of less than 1, owners of fire suppression systems and wheeled units containing 3M Novec 1230 fluid will not be adversely impacted by certain regulatory bans or restrictions on fire suppression agents due to ODP or GWP.
Plus, wheeled units using 3M Novec 1230 fluid have the potential to reduce total cost of ownership by simplifying inspection and maintenance requirements and helping reduce or virtually eliminate damage to aircraft from the agent itself. Commonly used dry chemicals in fire extinguishment can be corrosive and destructive to high-value electronics, and also can experience caking, packing and clogged hoses after discharge. In contrast, 3M Novec 1230 fluid does not clog hoses, is not corrosive and leaves no residue so that it can be safely and effectively used around high-value electronics without risking additional damage.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) operates a series of Jet Engine Noise Suppressor Test Facilities (colloquially called hush houses) to enable the testing of jet engines in an enclosed environment to help keep its aircraft operating at peak efficiency. Historically, these hush houses have been equipped with halon fire suppression systems, but the global phaseout of halon production due to its environmental impact inspired the USAF to look for a new, effective, sustainable hush house fire extinguishment solution.
3M worked with the USAF’s Support Equipment & Vehicles Division at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to develop a test protocol for a system using 3M Novec 1230 fluid. Fire performance testing at a 3M facility proved extinguishing performance in two key fire scenarios: a fixed size jet fuel pool fire under a simulated aircraft wing, and a dynamic fuel configuration simulating a jet engine nacelle with a fuel spray and cascading fuel feeding a pool fire below. In both cases, the fires were extinguished completely within 30 seconds of the end of discharge and 10 minutes of subsequent monitoring confirmed that no re-flash occurred. After the successful tests, the engineers chose to pursue acquisition and installation of a system using 3M Novec 1230 fluid to protect their hush houses.
Fact or Fiction: The only important cost consideration in a fire suppression system is the initial cost of the stand-alone system.
Fiction! Total cost of ownership for a fire suppression system involves considering numerous factors not immediately apparent in the initial cost, including:
Lifetime maintenance costs – Systems involving storing the agent at high pressure must be regularly tested and inspected to ensure that the system can successfully be operated at that pressure, including hydrostatic testing of the hoses, pressure testing for facility venting, and other tests
Real estate costs – In tight spaces or dense urban areas, it matters whether a fire suppression system needs 40 cylinders or 4. The floor space for those cylinders – and structure to support them – adds design requirements and takes space away from the main purpose of the facility
Downtime costs – Different agents may leave different amounts of residue and cause different amounts of damage after discharge, leading to potentially extensive cleanup and facility downtime costs. Consider the importance of the business operations and the cost per minute of disruption when selecting a system.
These costs and more should all be considered for a comprehensive review of the total cost of the system through the expected service life, in order for owners to make an informed decision.
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