The petrochemical and chemical industry have recognised from the start that firesafety and fire protection are an important part of facility planning and operations. Changing conditions bring new and unusual problems with an ever present threat of catastrophic losses.
The capabilities of the fire protection engineer are challenged every time again during the execution of a study for this type of industry. A thorough knowledge of the different processes and an overall understanding of the product chemistry is indispensable to assure a successful safety and fire protection evaluation.
Total systems approach
Fire protection can play an important role in plant siting and equipment layout decision making, particularly when hazardous materials and public safety issues are involved. FPC has developed an engineering framework for evaluating plant sites and layouts so as to promote cost-effective fire, explosion and environmental protection.
The driving force behind this engineering framework is the design of credible fire scenarios. From the moment that the idea of the construction of a new plant is created and an inventory of the products involved and different individual plant functions are made available, we can determine the fire scenarios. This so-called performance based approach exposes weaknesses with respect to fire protection in the preliminary plant design stage which can be rectified in a cost-effective way. Although we adhere to international and local codes the advantage should be apparent : "FPC's approach is client specific and depends upon the nature of the plant operations, functions and processed materials".
How do we select "credible fire scenarios" ?
QRA (Quantitative Risk Assessment) is a broadly accepted method that quantifies the probability and magnitude of an unwanted event.
The retained fire scenarios are used together with the fire protection siting considerations as a basis to evaluate plant layout for fire/explosion protection. Appropriate actions will then be proposed to optimise the firesafety of the facility.
The same thought process is followed by FPC to evaluate the fire protection of an existing plant. Here, FPC will investigate what can be accomplished with the available and recommended resources within the concept of a firesafety upgrading program.
This evaluation requires multidisciplinary teamwork involving experienced and polyvalent fire protection engineers with a solid petroleum and chemical background. Unfortunately, these people are rare and in the past, all too often, hazards have been under or overestimated which resulted into expensive, ineffective or non-practical fire engineering. FPC employs and trains several chemical and petroleum engineers. Together we have developed a revolutionary fire protection concept for this type of industry based on a cocktail of State of the Art fire science and long time experience.
It should be obvious that there are also stand alone studies since the services offered by FPC depend on the client's individual desires and objectives. The flexibility of integrating the different components into a client tailored package is the real strength of our concept. As such this method can be employed for upgrading the fire protection/prevention means of an existing facility and/or for a complete fire protection design starting from scratch.
FPC has proven expertise to focus on existing and new problems. We have developed new approaches and have identified the most cost-effective method to keep this important industry productive and safe at the same time.