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Hazardex 2017 Conference: Safety System Fire Analysis - How can fire challenge the safe operation of a facility? How can it be established whether a fire can cause a facility/process to enter an unsafe state?

Author : James Daly - RPS Risk Management

04 November 2016

The above questions are fundamental in determining whether facilities are capable of operating safely under the adverse conditions encountered during a fire. Not only can a fire prevent the correct operation of safety systems or protection measures installed on a facility, it has the potential to initiate a major incident.  

There are additional issues with regards to fire and explosion on facilities such as: 
*  Are engineers and operators that work on these facilities confident that the safety systems
installed, will function correctly in the event of a fire? 
*  Do facilities segregate safety systems by applying a diverse design throughout to prevent
fire undermining safety? 
*  Are safety systems protected from fire?
*  In the event of a fire would safety system faults/ failures be revealed? 
*  Could the safety systems response to a fire cause further operational or emergency
shutdown issues?

To establish whether a fire could cause a facility/ process to enter an unsafe state, detailed analysis of the facilities fire prevention and mitigation provisions should be completed.  This analysis will determine whether the effects of fire could have detrimental effects on the facilities ability to operate safely and establish whether a facility could be  shut down in a systematic and controlled manner (including emergency).

It is recognised that most hazard studies consider the loss of utilities and control, hence should consider the loss of safety systems but there is limited analysis completed to justify the expected outcomes in the event of the fire on a facility.  It should be recognised that fire is a common cause failure if equipment is collocated and the questions posed previously are rarely answered.

On the basis of the safety systems fire analysis, the robustness of the basic process control and safety systems engineering design and their effectiveness can be confirmed, and the requirements for emergency response can be demonstrated.

This paper will provide practical examples of how safety systems have been analysed with regards to being effected by fire, examples of improvements and the overall benefit of such an analysis. 

About the Speakers

James Daley has a BSc(Hons) in Fire Safety and Risk Management from the University of Central Lancashire and is an Associate (AIFireE) member of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE). James joined RPS Risk Management (Warrington) in 2013 and is working as a Safety Consultant within the company’s Fire and Process Safety Team.

James works predominately in the nuclear and process industries and has gained experience in conducting nuclear and conventional fire safety assessments, DSEAR/ ATEX inspections and various Hazard Studies (HAZOP/ HAZID).  James is working towards gaining Chartered Engineering Status and currently developing a continued professional development portfolio to aid in this process.

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