The heavy-duty mobile equipment used in a variety of industrial applications, such as mining and forestry, operate for long hours under harsh conditions. And equipment owners are accustomed to performing routine maintenance to keep their investments working at maximum efficiency. However, when it comes to a tried-and-true safety accessory for heavy equipment, fire suppression systems, maintenance is often overlooked or underestimated.
Is maintenance on fire suppression systems really necessary? What could happen if routine inspections and maintenance are neglected?
Component Wear and Tear Could Render System Ineffective
A fire suppression system is comprised of a variety of components, including hosing, tubing, wiring, nozzles, etc. These parts are susceptible to the same harsh conditions as the heavy-duty mobile equipment itself - back-to-back shifts causing extremely hot temperatures; vibrations shaking loose secured components; and excess dust and debris.
Without a routine maintenance plan, fire suppression system components will experience excess wear and tear which could lead to part failure, and ultimately system failure. What could happen to system components? Hosing might start to chaff or crack. Distribution nozzles may become clogged by dirt and debris.
And this gradual wear and tear will eventually render the fire suppression system ineffective. The system may not activate when it should, or it might activate when it shouldn’t. Or, the system may activate right on-time, but a hole in the hosing could cause the system to discharge in the wrong areas, ultimately bypassing the fire. Routine maintenance is vital
Fire Suppression System Adjustments or Damage During Other Work
A variety of technicians perform maintenance on heavy-duty mobile equipment, such as oil changes and engine repair. It is not uncommon for a technician to move a fire suppression system component out of the way while performing these tasks. If these components aren’t moved back after the work is performed, the fire suppression system might not work as intended.
For example, a technician might move a section of system hosing to access the vehicle engine for a repair. The hose is moved so that it now presses against a surface that gets extremely hot during long operating hours. Over time, the hose becomes damaged by the hot temperatures and impacts the effectiveness of the fire suppression system.
This scenario emphasizes the importance of regular maintenance. These routine inspections will uncover any adjustments before they are able to cause a significant problem.
Accessories Minimize Damage but Still Require Maintenance
Fire suppression system manufacturers will provide component accessories for added protection against rapid wear. These accessories might include:
- Fire sleeves = provides additional heat and flame resistance to hosing and wires
- Coil guard = provides abrasion and kinking protection to linear wire
- Hose spiral guard = prevents abrasion and exposure to sharp edges to hoses
- Stainless steel tubing = used in place of rubber hosing for increased longevity
These accessories will allow system components to better endure the harsh conditions and may very well lead to reduced maintenance costs. However, a routine maintenance plan is still a necessity.