Foam fire suppression systems

Donat Czapski

Donat Czapski – I am at your disposal

+48 695 244 220

info@grupa-wolff.com

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Industrial foam fire suppression systems

Foam fire suppression systems are often an excellent alternative to classic water systems. Foam (or more precisely, a water-foam solution is much lighter than water. Therefore, for some flammable substances, a foam suppression system is more effective than other extinguishing systems. At the same time, the installation does not burden the structure of industrial buildings as much as water-based fire extinguishing devices.

Our team has extensive experience in industrial fire and explosion safety projects (including wood, food and energy manufacturing, as well as waste processing). We know how to manage the assembly teams to protect the plant from losses (suspension of production, product contamination, damage to machines, etc.). We design and install foam installations in accordance with the guidelines of VdS, PN-EN, NFPA, or FM GLOBAL , depending on the requirements of your insurer.

VARIETY OF INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES

  • power engineering
  • wood industry
  • food industry
  • waste processing
  • chemical & petrochemical industry
  • other

COMPLIANCE
WITH STRICT REQUIREMENTS

  • PN-EN
  • VdS
  • FM Global
  • NFPA

FAMILIARITY WITH DIFFICULT WORKING CONDITIONS

We know the challenges of industrial plants inside-out!
We will match industry-specific components to your working environment
We completed hundreds of industrial projects, including in the corrosive C5M/C5-I environment!

VERSATILITY OF FIRE SUPPRESSION AND DETECTION SOLUTIONS

We can meet your insurer’s requirements together!

IIt is the insurance audits and their follow-up requirements for manufacturing companies that often bring clients to us. Regardless of the requirements set by your insurer, we can meet them all.

Foam installations are best suited to protect:

Waste sorting and recycling plants

Flammable liquids and chemicals

Plastics processing plants

Plants processing metals and hazardous materials

Large tanks

Large industrial areas

Industrial plant vs shopping mall: what’s the difference in fire protection?

Installation of foam systems (and other fire protection installations) in an industrial facility is quite unlike setting up one in a commercial or office facility. For details, see below:

THE CHALLENGECOMMERCIAL FACILITIESINDUSTRIAL FACILITIES
Risk of disruption to the facility's operation during assemblyNone, or minimal.
Mist systems are most often installed at the construction of the facility, or outside normal operating hours.
Large or high.
Assembly is most often carried out during normal operation of the facility Therefore, practical experience in plants is important to minimize this risk.
Access to scaffolding, trolleys and liftsFree.
Most often the space is free of clutter, and scaffolding, trolleys and lifts can be used without any problems.
Significantly restricted.
Tightly packed production halls offer limited access to mist system installation points.
Risk of collision of the constructed water mist extinguishing system with the infrastructure of the production hallZero or minimal.
The space is still undeveloped, the assembly team has much freedom of movement.
High.
The existing devices and auxiliary installations, often high-rise, hinder assembly works.
Occupational health and safety regimeThe work is carried out in the standard OHS regime.The work is subject to a high health and safety regime, which requires arrangements and clearance for work.

CASE STUDIES

Fire suppression systems of our clients

Lighter, safer, faster fire protection: fireproofing a biomass conveyor with a water mist extinguisher

Project challenges The switch from coal fuel to a mixture of coal with more ignitable and explosive biomass increased the risks of fire and explosion in the power The investor had to decide between two effective fire protection techniques to select the most suitable option for their conveyor belt. The decisive factors were: the weight of the system and the time needed for installation. The solution: To reduce the risk of structural overload on the conveyors, a mist fire extinguisher was selected over a traditional sprinkler system. Unlike the nozzle system, the mist fire extinguishing system did not require a building permit. The mist system's lower water usage not only prevented potential water damage and reduced the risk of flooding, but also allowed for quicker resumption of operations post-incident. The design and installation of a fire protection system for belt conveyors was part of a large modernization project we completed for two power plants in Poland. The need to improve fire and explosion safety in these facilities resulted from changing the fuel from coal to a mixture of coal with biomass, much more easily ignitable and explosive. Apparently, the investor wanted to avoid disasters such as those that affected other plants in Poland in the past, and the Ridderskaya Test plant in Ridder, East Kazakhstan, in 2023. However, before we were commissioned, our experts took part in a number of consultations. They were requested to recommend optimal safety systems, including extinguishing techniques for conveyor belts. The investor, a large European [...]

Over-sensitive fire detection and alarm system: how to solve the problem and… save as much as 40% of costs?

Want to optimize a fire system? Instead of blindly following the norms, run expert field tests. A polyurethane foam manufacturer invested EUR 2,500 in tests. Their savings reached several times that amount compared to the total project estimate! (Yet another) manufacturing plant came to us with a problem of false activation of a fire suppression system. Unfortunately, such incidents are quite common in industry. They cause dozens of thousands of euro-worth losses every year (cost of cleaning, lost product, etc.). In plants where such situations occur even several times a year, costs can easily reach several hundred thousand euro. No wonder, then, that the idea of turning off a "hypersensitive" system for the sake of savings seems all too tempting. However, what about the fire hazard? In case of a real fire emergency not only do you risk serious losses, but your insurer can refuse compensation. So is there anything you can do to make the system respond only in the event of actual threat? It takes two types of detectors to properly detect fire This time, the problem of an oversensitive fire detection system involved a polyurethane foam plant. The “culprit" was a system based on aspirating smoke detectors (ASD). This type of sensor samples air in various inaccessible places without depending for detection on the convective movement of smoke. These detectors are known for their effectiveness where the highest sensitivity of detection is a must. They detect fire hazard in fraction of a second. This makes them extra [...]

Fire system for a paper machine: fireproofing a flammable giant

Project challenges the machine was only 35% complete, which made it impossible for us to run a proper on-site verification and identify bottlenecks the investor was keen on keeping a strict deadline due to costs fire installation works had to run simultaneously with machine installation The solution we took the initiative to design the fire extinguishing system from scratch we cooperated closely with key stakeholders of the project to avoid clashes with other teams, we introduced flexible working hours for our installers (including at night) It was the largest machine we had ever secured against a fire. A true giant, 160 meters long and 12 high (525 ft long and 40 ft height). This is much longer than a football field and as high as a four-story building. However, it was not the size that posed the biggest challenge here. “Collossus”, as we nicknamed the machine, was completed only 35% on the day of the site visit. This meant that it was virtually impossible for us to plan our activities well in advance. Million-euro machine at risk of more than paper fire The investor, one of Europe's leading paper manufacturers, decided to replace an old paper machine. This would allow them to double their production capacity to 1,000 tons of finished product per day. Such machines require state-of-the-art fire protection, not only because of the tons of paper nearby . One of the key steps in the paper manufacturing process is drying. The produced paper webs (up to several hundred [...]

How do foam installations work?

In our foam installations, the extinguishing agent is foam created by mixing a special agent and water. Depending on the nature of the protected area or tank, and the hazardous substance, one of three types of foam is selected: heavy, medium, or light.

The most often used foam in industry is the heavy type. Its consistency is runny, or viscous, than other types of fire extinguishing foams. At the same time it is much less runny than ordinary water.

How industrial foam systems extinguish fire?

Foam installations cool the flames and flammable material by allowing for a longer contact of foam than in the case of water. The “crust” that forms between the fire and the air eliminates the oxidant and the combustible material, which had not yet caught fire.

There are 3 types of foam: light, medium and heavy:

  • heavy foam – expansion ratio up to 20, most often used to extinguish large spaces, e.g., production halls or warehouses, in a short time
  • medium foam – expansion ratio from 20 to 200, most often used where a fire can occur low by the floor, e.g., in a plastic warehouse)
  • light foam – expansion ratio from 200 to 1000, most often used to extinguish flammable liquids in spilled tanks (the foam is spread on the surface of the burning liquid, cutting off the air supply and lowering its temperature)
    • For sprinklers and spray nozzles

    • For water and foam monitors, with 100 times greater efficiency than classic fire extinguishing nozzles

    • The extinguishing effectiveness of a water mist system is estimated at 10 times greater than that of a sprinkler or deluge system

How foam is stored and generated?

Contrary to water systems, which require storing large amounts of water for the extinguishing process, foam installation, requires less water. However, a foam installation requires another tank for the foam concentrate.

Water flows from the fire protection tank through a pipeline next to the foam concentrate tank and enters the dispenser. For example, a VRC dispenser reduces the diameter of the water flow to increase pressure. Then it simultaneously supplies a specified amount of foam concentrate, which is then injected to the narrowed water flow creating a water-foam solution.

Foam systems: nozzles or monitors?

Similarly to mist installations, foam systems can consist of both closed nozzles (wet or dry configuration) and open sprinklers. You can also use water and foam monitors, which spray foam under pressure over the entire surface and can supply up to 100 times more foam per minute.

  • Regardless of type, foam systems have lower requirements for a water tank, and bring lower risk of property losses due to flooding.

Is there other purpose for foam systems than fire suppression?

Foam fire extinguishing systems can be designed and installed not only to extinguish a fire, but also (or solely) to perform other protective functions. What are the differences in foam installations for extinguishing and for cooling?

EXTINGUISHING

Foam is the basic extinguishing agent for many substances that cannot be put out with water (e.g., flammable liquids). Hence, its widely used for fire extinguishing purposes.

Foam is also useful in extinguishing plastics and similar flammable materials, or in the case when the fuel material mixture is difficult to determine.

COOLING

Creates a preventive layer of foam the on flammable material that has not yet been reached by fire to insulate it from flames and heat.

For example, pouring foam over the top of a flammable liquid tank prevents the liquid from igniting by the approaching fire.

Hassle-free assembling of the foam system

 We understand that production processes such as manufacturing, packaging, or storage are key to production profit. That is why we assemble fire extinguishing foam installations in such a way as to minimize disruption to the production process.

Based on experience, we anticipate potential challenges already in the design phase, and solve them. We know how to cooperate effectively with production managers to coordinate the assembly process. Our installation operations are scheduled only for specific days and times. We adapt to planned production downtime or periods of reduced work intensity. When necessary, we work at night. We always adapt our work methods to the character of the production plant.

ASSEMBLY WORKS IN PRACTICE

zabezpieczenia przeciwpożarowe na czynnych zakładach przemysłowych

We eliminate production downtime, or bring it down to a minimum

We coordinate assembly with the production schedule

We organize the necessary equipment, e.g. aerial lifts/scaffolding/climbers

We adhere to all internal procedures of the plant

If necessary, we also work at night and on weekends

We only move and work within clearance zones

Before assembly, we secure machines and devices

After installation, we clean up and make sure regular production is quickly restored

Ensuring property safety

At every stage of our operations, the safety of your assets in halls, warehouses and other production spaces, is crucial for us. We are aware that any damage we cause can have repercussions for the continuity of production and take caution to prevent such situations.

BEFORE THE ASSEMBLY

We agree on the scope of work with the investor

We familiarize ourselves with the safety guidelines

We secure the workplace

We cover machines and devices

DURING AND AFTER ASSEMBLY

We move about with utmost caution

We secure property from damage

We clean the site thoroughly afterwards

We enable production to be restored immediately

  • developing the concept and necessary blueprints
  • selecting and delivering key installation elements
  • developing and implementing a control system
  • visualizing the water mist system
  • integration of the system with existing security systems

In addition to foam systems, we design and implement complete, integrated fire protection systems (for a full list see below). Importantly, our operations can include all, or only selected of the points mentioned, as needed. If necessary, we integrate the delivered systems with existing solutions.

  1. Fire alarm system (SAP, SSP), wired and wireless
  2. Fire detection system
  3. Ventilation and smoke extraction systems
  4. CCTV monitoring system
  5. Intruder alarm system
  6. Sound warning system
  7. Access control and work time registration systems
  8. Emergency and evacuation lighting

Plastics melt when exposed to fire, forming a tight shell. Why is foam extinguishing more effective than water in such situations? It is all about surface tension. Water without the addition of a foaming agent has high surface tension. For example, if a smoldering pile of waste is flooded with water, it cannot be extinguished as water cannot penetrate inside, where a fire usually occurs. By adding a foaming agent, we lower surface tension. Foam penetrates the pile and reaches the fire.

Systemy gaszenia mgłą wodną mogą osiągać wymagane ciśnienie rozpylania przez zasilanie ze zwykłych zbiorników z wodą ppoż. i dobranych odpowiednio pomp, lub także przy użyciu jednego lub wielu zbiorników wypełnionych wodą pod ciśnieniem.

Pompy to praktyczne rozwiązanie, zapewniające stałe, wysokie ciśnienie mgły wodnej w trakcie akcji gaśniczej. W przypadku mniejszych powierzchni, a tym samym mniejszego zapotrzebowania na wodę, można rozważyć rezygnację z budowy pompowni na rzecz zbiorników wypełnionych wodą pod ciśnieniem. Koszty takiej inwestycji z dużym prawdopodobieństwem będą niższe, jednakże należy wziąć pod uwagę, że takie źródło wody dedykowane jest najczęściej do jednej strefy gaśniczej. Więcej stref gaśniczych w jednym obiekcie może spowodować, ze efekt ekonomiczny przesunie się w stronę systemu pompowego.

Technologię mgły wodnej stosuje się w takich gałęziach przemysłu jak energetyka zawodowa (elektrownie i elektrociepłownie) włącznie ze stacjami transformatorowymi, oraz m.in. w przemyśle petrochemicznym. Oprócz konkretnych branż są to także systemy gaśnicze, które można szerzej zastosować w ochronie tuneli kablowych, sterowni, linii produkcyjnych, magazynów, czy maszynowni.

  • W sytuacjach, kiedy skuteczność systemu mgły wodnej nie jest wystarczająco udowodniona – np. testy skuteczności działania dysz w akredytowanym laboratorium nie wyjdą pozytywnie
  • W sytuacjach, kiedy tańsze i równie skuteczne są inne rozwiązania, a głównym kryterium zakupu jest cena, a nie np. konieczność zużycia do gaszenia jak najmniejszej ilości wody, przez obawę przed zniszczeniem parku maszynowego, długim przestojem produkcji po gaszeniu zwykłą wodą itp.

Do you have any questions?

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