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Burning through port productivity – Firetrace joins expert discussion panel

Firetrace systems are ideal for the complex micro-environments found in ports and we’re protecting port equipment all around the world. This summer Port Strategy magazine invited us to join a panel of fire suppression industry experts to discuss the significant risk of fire in ports – and how they can be mitigated.

You can check out the full discussion in Port Strategy magazine, but here’s what we had to say:

  1. What are the main fire risks associated with ports?

The mobile equipment used by port authorities presents a unique set of fire protection challenges.

Cranes, straddle carriers, reach stackers and lift trucks all work 24/7 under punishing conditions that stress mechanical components to the limit. A leaking fuel line, burst oil feed or an improper or failing electrical connection or component can result in an intensely hot, quick-spreading fire. This can severely disrupt operations, pose a serious threat of injury or death to workers, and result in costly equipment repairs and downtime.

  1. How are ports reacting to fire suppression systems? Are they becoming more popular choices for ports?

Interest in protecting port equipment has increased dramatically, led by some of the biggest names in the cargo industry. Ports across six continents are already using Firetrace fire suppression to protect their critical assets, and in this market of heavy, hardworking equipment where even small interruptions can prove exorbitantly expensive, interest is extremely high.

  1. What fire suppression products do you offer and what are their key benefits for ports?

Firetrace offers a unique fire suppression system for protecting mobile equipment in ports. The key is our proprietary detection tubing, which is immune to the dirt, shock and vibration that port equipment is exposed to, yet reliable enough to avoid false discharges.

Detection tubing functions as a multipoint linear pneumatic heat sensor that bursts when exposed to a fire’s radiant heat, which automatically releases the fire suppressing agent and provides fast and reliable fire detection and suppression.

As the flexible detection tubing can be easily routed in and around the hazard areas in mobile equipment, the time to detect even a small fire can be dramatically reduced, resulting in significantly limited damage to the port. In many cases mobile equipment can be returned to service in a matter of hours after a fire is suppressed by Firetrace.

ABC Dry Chemical Powder is our agent of choice for mobile equipment in ports and for engine enclosures more generally. It’s an all-purpose fire suppression agent that is used around the world, and recent independent engine testing at the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden confirmed its superiority in protecting these complex enclosures. However, we also offer clean agent gas for electrical systems in order to provide a complete solution.

  1. What are the options available for retrofitting fire suppression systems at ports?

Retrofitting – certainly of Firetrace systems – is easy to do and in fact most of our systems installed in ports are retrofitted. The systems and components are flexible enough to be installed on almost any port equipment.

We also work directly with equipment manufacturers to deliver new units fitted with Firetrace systems.

  1. What are the cost issues with respect to fire prevention at ports?

In addition to the initial outlay required to install a fire suppression system, there is the need to budget for maintenance and replacing the system after it’s been activated by a fire.

There are of course many things competing for port authorities’ budgets. But arguably no other risk has the same capacity as a fire to endanger life and assets and shut down port operations. So it’s important also to consider the cost of not installing fire prevention. These can easily run into millions when you take into account the expense of replacing equipment, downtime and – not to be underestimated – loss of reputation.

Firetrace enjoys a market-leading position thanks in part to the good value cost of a system over its lifetime, but also due to its reliability, ease of installation and maintenance and – most significantly – its effectiveness. Fire suppression is insurance against loss. When you evaluate the extremely favourable cost to value ratio, it’s unsurprising that ports are becoming increasingly interested in protecting their critical assets.