A container yard is a busy place. In August of 2021, the Port Authority of Los Angeles released numbers showing that over 900,000 containers were handled in that month alone, bringing the yearly tally to just over 6 million containers. Container handlers, such as cranes and reach stackers, are critical to meeting these types of productivity demands for ports everywhere. However, unpredictable equipment fires happen frequently, significantly impacting productivity.
Installation of effective automatic fire detection and suppression systems on container handlers can help minimize equipment downtime, prevent loss of expensive equipment, and safeguard against serious injury.
Three Areas to Protect in Container Handling Equipment
Failures in hydraulic hoses or fuel lines can cause fuel or hydraulic oil to leak or spray throughout the compartment. Once in contact with hot components in the engine, the fuel or oil can ignite - filling the whole compartment with fire.
Crane Electrical Panels
Overcurrent in panels within the crane's electrical room can cause wiring and components to burn. A fire in an unprotected panel can destroy the panel and spread throughout the electrical room.
Crane Electrical Rooms
Electrical faults can cause wiring and components to burn, and lead to arc flash within the crane's electrical room. In these cases, the spread of fire can be catastrophic, destroying the room and possibly the crane, leading to collapsing booms and beams.
Given these three hazards, three systems are recommended to adequately protect container handling equipment. While the most common cause of fire is hydraulic system failure in engine compartments, it's not enough to rely on just automatic fire detection and suppression systems for engine compartments: catastrophic fires can also start in electrical rooms and electrical cabinets on cranes.
Firetrace offers a system to protect each of these hazards, and often, container yards can protect a whole fleet of equipment with Firetrace systems for less than the cost of one top loader forklift. Read more about these systems in the report below.
What is in a Fire Suppression System?
Fire suppression systems can utilize dry powder, clean agents, or liquid. Dry powder systems spray a fine powder, like ABC Dry Chemical, typically made of sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, or monoammonium phosphate and are an excellent choice for engine compartments. On the other hand, clean agents like Novec™ 1230 and FM-200™ quickly suppress fire without harming electrical equipment and electronics and are safe around employees. Other systems like liquid fire suppression systems work by releasing a pressurized mixture of water to smother the fire. Dual agent systems combine dry powder and liquid to suppress fires.
Importance of Certifications
Certain certifications ensure that automatic fire detection and suppression systems perform in demanding environments such as engines and electrical panels on container handling equipment. When considering an automatic fire suppression system for container handling equipment, look out for these certifications:
- Systems that are R107 compliant and PMark SPCR 183 certified are tested and approved for reliability and effectiveness in the harsh environment of engines.
- Systems that are LPCB certified to LPC 1666 are certified to reduce the risks of electrical panel fires.