Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd

Transforming the potential disaster into a small glitch

Published:  01 October, 2008

COBRA – the dual purpose extinguisher. The COBRA cutting extinguisher is an abrasive water jet cutter that has been modified for firefighting and also rescue work where it is essential to not generate sparks or heat.

It has been especially designed mainly for firefighting in enclosed spaces, and this is done in a new and revolutionary way so that firefighters don’t even have to enter a compartment. In fact, the fire is extinguished from outside by shooting a hole in the construction and injecting a fine micron-sized watermist within.

In firefighting it’s often used by fire departments around the world to stop spread of fires, and to create safer environment for firefighters and reach hidden fires in constructions.

One of the major benefits here is the low water consumption (only app 50L/min) which gives almost no water damage to a building.

Typically, COBRA is used together with TICs (thermal imaging cameras) and PPV fans. Users in industrial fire departments include BASF in Germany, Ovaco steel in Sweden, Nynas refining in Sweden and Ukraine coal mines.

Its dual purpose use has already been seen in Nynas refinery, explains COBRA’s Marketing Manager Lars Lundmark, “In Nynas they had a big cistern that they had to empty from a highly flammable petrol product and they needed to make a hole in the side of the cistern to get a suction hose inside. The steel wall was approximately 1.5 to 2 cm thick. There was a big explosion risk and they used the COBRA to cut the opening in the cistern.”

COBRA also offers a variety of attachments for making precise cuttings, for example in Chinese oil field today a pipe-cutter is used for cutting pipe lines.

So besides firefighting in enclosed spaces, this system can be used in any environment where hot work permits are required for cutting.

Water mist – in a bottle

The benefits of fixed water mist systems are fast becoming widely accepted and UK-based Amerex Fire International’s model 272 has been designed especially for Class A fires in particular where electrical hazards exist.

The fine spray from the misting nozzle provides safety from electric shock, while greatly enhancing the cooling and soaking characteristics of the water, and reducing the scattering of burning material.

Manufactured with a stainless steel body, model 272 contains nine litres of de-ionised water, and it is fitted with heavy-duty chrome plated brass valves and stainless steel handles. It has also been approved for use on shipping under SOLAS and IMO regulations, and has passed the 35KV electrical conductivity test as specified in BS EN3 as well as European Marine Directive certification.

The nine litres of fine mist are discharged in 80 seconds, and the units have a range of four metres. According to Amerex International, the water mist extinguisher is ideal for use in rooms that contain lots of electrical equipment, but where dry extinguishants could not be used due to potential respiratory or dust mess problems, or indeed CO2 because of freezing or oxygen depletion. Additionally, because model 272 has been designed to be non-magnetic, it can also be used within facilities using magnetic devices.

Fighting (metal) fire with powder

A portable extinguisher specifically designed for metal fires has been launched by Total.
To combat the extreme heat of metal fires – which can reach temperatures above 2,000 degrees C – the new extinguisher features the new TOTALIT M metal-fire powder extinguishant, which works by forming a crust on the combustible surface, depriving the fire of oxygen.

The new unit has been developed at Total’s research and manufacturing facility in Neuruppin, Germany.  Two versions are available, one a 12kg hand-held and the other a 50kg wheel-mounted unit, both with a 1.5 metre hose and lance.

The extinguisher is suitable for use with metals including magnesium, aluminium, potassium, sodium, calcium and lithium. And unlike conventional class D extinguishers, there is no risk of a chemical reaction when the powder is applied.

The TOTALIT M is aimed not only at metalworking production areas and appliance plants, but also chemical/nuclear plants and laboratories.

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