AFEX Fire Suppression Systems are Factory Mutual (FM) HDME Approved

AFEX Fire Suppression Systems is the First Manufacturer Approved to Factory Mutual Standard 5970 – Heavy-Duty Mobile Equipment Protection Systems.

Raleigh, NC, USA – AFEX Fire Suppression Systems is proud to announce that AFEX dry chemical, liquid agent, and dual agent fire suppression systems were awarded FM 5970 Approval on September 21, 2017.

FM Approval Standard 5970 - Heavy-Duty Mobile Equipment Protection Systems, was developed over the course of four years, and represents a collaborative effort amongst FM Approvals and industry experts. This new standard represents the industry’s most comprehensive and rigorous testing program for vehicle fire suppression systems.

The effective date of FM Approval Standard 5970 is August 2018. Even systems that were previously approved under prior FM standards must be reexamined to FM 5970. Per FM, “Products FM Approved under a previous edition shall comply with the new version by the effective date or forfeit Approval.”

To achieve FM 5970 approval, systems must pass numerous fire suppression, electrical immunity, environmental, and shock and vibration tests. These tests are designed to simulate real-world scenarios and long-term exposure in the field. FM 5970 is the first standard to test all systems in the same manner regardless of the suppression agent used.

AFEX believes strongly in the value of third-party testing and approvals. AFEX fire suppression systems were listed under UL Standard 1254 for over 30 years, and have carried FM Approval since the introduction of FM Approval Standard 5320 in 2009. AFEX fire suppression systems are also ActivFire approved to Australian Standard 5062, CE marked, and certified for use in Russia.

For AFEX, achieving FM 5970 certification represents a culmination of 50 years of experience in the heavy equipment industry and countless hours of research and development.

AFEX Fire Suppression Systems Celebrates 50 Years in Business

AFEX Celebrates 50 Years

AFEX, the leading manufacturer of fire suppression systems for mobile heavy equipment is celebrating 50 years of helping our customers maximize their safety and productivity.

Bill Lease founded the company in 1968 as Lease-AFEX, Inc., primarily to serve the Southeastern timber harvesting industry, and the waste handling industry shortly thereafter.

Bonaventure Group, Inc. purchased AFEX in 1986, and expanded into other heavy industries such as mining, steel, and oil and gas as well as international markets.

Today, AFEX Celebrates 50 Years of systems that can be found on all 7 continents, protecting all types of equipment. Although we have grown and expanded many times over, we remain focused on manufacturing only effective, reliable, purpose-built products designed to withstand the abuse of heavy industry.

It's all we do.

AFEX equipped battery-powered LHD’s headed to Vale Coleman

Vale's Coleman mine recently received two battery-powered Artisan A4 load-haul-dumps (LHDs) equipped with AFEX fire suppression systems for a six-month trial.

The A4 is powered by a lithium battery that provides four hours of operation on a one hour charge.

Vale intends to pursue battery-powered vehicles for it's underground mines across Canada when it's sure the technology will meet their needs and make economic sense. The goal is to reduce ventilation needs, and their associated costs, while also staying carbon neutral.

See here for more information on the A4 and Vale's plans.

AFEX Featured in International Mining Magazine’s MINExpo 2016 Preview

Thank you to International Mining Magazine for featuring AFEX in your August 2016 MINExpo preview issue! The preview focuses on the most exciting exhibitors and technologies that will be on display at the show, and highlights our partnership with Liebherr and Ground Force to display AFEX equipped machines.

If you're attending the show, Be sure to visit AFEX in booth 7062, Liebherr in booth 7627, and Ground Force in booth 6971.

AFEX Dual Agent System Profiled In International Mining Magazine

AFEX would like to thank International Mining magazine for including our fire suppression system in the safety section of their October 2015 issue. The mention focuses on the fact that our systems are rugged and easily serviced. Also included was the fact that our Dual Agent System Fire Suppression Systems provide the most efficient coverage available on the market. They are the best approach to protecting modern equipment, which have hotter-running engines, as they have both fast flame knockdown and a cooling effect to reduce engine surface temperatures.

Assessing Fire Risk

AFEX Fire Suppression Systems tells Mining Magazine about the impact of fire risk assessments on vehicle fire suppression system designs.

When determining how best to protect a piece of heavy off-road equipment from the threat of fire, a fire risk assessment is the most indispensable procedure one can use. This process entails an evaluation of the main hazards of a specific machine and its operating environment.

It provides a decision-making framework to help one evaluate a vehicle’s risk potential, implement changes to mitigate those risks, and, when deemed necessary, to design and install a fire suppression system that appropriately addresses those risks. It is so helpful, the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a guide it publishes to explain and encourage its use.

A thoroughly executed analysis is required for proper system design, installation and performance. A common fire risk assessment ‘checklist’ includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

  • The engine size;
  • Normal operating temperatures;
  • The amount of hydraulics on-board;
  • The type and size of after treatment components;
  • The hazards related to the operating environment; and
  • Any potential impact fire would have on personnel’s safety.

System recommendations

Determining how these aspects affect system recommendations are a combination of industry experience, the system manufacturer’s recommendations (which ought to be based on third party testing results), and industry standards such as those of the NFPA and the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

To begin with, the high temperature areas of a machine need to be accounted for, such as the exhaust manifold, turbocharger, hydraulic pumps, torque converters, brakes, and gears. Other ignition sources are electrical components such as batteries, fuse panels, generators, alternators, electrical wiring and starters. These areas are potential ignition sources for a fire because any flammable liquids which come into contact with them are likely to flash, or because they can catch fire themselves due to malfunction.

Once the ignition sources have been accounted for, one should evaluate the potential fuel sources, which are divided into three separate classes of combustible materials:

  • Class A materials are referred to as debris, which would include coal dust, electrical insulation, upholstery, tyres etc;
  • Class B materials are fuels such as gasoline, diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, grease, oil, or battery acid; and
  • Class C hazards are electrical in nature. These result from electrical shorts, defective wires, defective wire insulation and the like.

After the fuel sources have been evaluated, one must then determine the probability of their co-existence with the ignition sources. Part of making a thorough job of this step is to have some base familiarity with the fire and maintenance history of the vehicle model in general.

An assessment should be made of existing areas where lubrication, hydraulic oil, fuel lines, rubber and plastic, and other combustibles are in proximity to an ignition source. An evaluator will also look for areas where fuel sources might leak, drip or spray fuel onto hot surfaces or potential spark generators. The presence of accumulations of combustible materials, such as oil-soaked waste and fuel spillage, represent potential fire hazards as well. One should also account for cooling fans and/or air flow to determine how it might impact flame propagation. With these factors in mind, a picture of a properly sized and configured system will emerge.

Another significant consideration when determining a fire suppression system’s design is the machine’s operating environment. When the product itself is flammable and/or there is debris created, the fire risk assessment, and therefore the fire suppression system design, will be impacted. How any by-product materials influence a system design will depend on their relative flammability, which of course impacts the chances of a fire starting.

This is where the ‘housekeeping’ of a machine comes into play. A machine that is kept clean and relatively debris free is less at risk than one which has build-up on it. End users must be reminded that machine cleanliness is always the first line of defence against a fire in any industry.

By the same token, regular mechanical upkeep can prevent fires caused by part failures. Keeping an eye out for damaged hoses is especially important in mining as the majority of vehicle fires in that industry are caused by high pressure flammable liquids spraying upon a hot machine surface.

Worker safety

The exposure of personnel to fire is obviously a significant concern, and one which cannot be over emphasised. To properly account for this critical issue, one must determine the number of persons involved with the machine under fire risk assessment and their location during operation and maintenance.

Beyond that, the exposure to potential fire risks for each person and whether fire and smoke could impair safe egress needs to be determined. There is a broad range across which operators’ risk goes from practically non-existent to high. Determining where along the continuum a particular job falls is also part of a fire risk assessment.

An example of a high-risk situation would be the driver of a large haul truck whose cab is 20ft (6.1m) above the ground, essentially sitting atop the engine, with a ladder required for egress.

Once personnel concerns have been assessed, one should fully evaluate the cost of repair or replacement of a vehicle, the cost of damage to a site, and the potential issue of site clean-up. These economic risks, along with the cost of vehicle down time and lost production, can significantly impact the amount of suppression deemed appropriate for a given machine. So too can the cost of any potential loss of natural resource.

System options

Once these steps have been taken to determine the need for fire protection, one can then begin to select fire suppression system hardware and agent types. This process includes determining the number of nozzles required to cover the high-risk areas, and, accordingly, the number of agent tanks required in the system.

There are two options for fire-fighting agents to choose from: dry A:B:C powder and A:B liquid. A third option, combining the two and taking a dual agent approach, is often the most efficient and appropriate because it utilises the benefits of each type and doesn’t take up as much space physically (or cost as much) as a liquid-only system. It should be noted that choosing the appropriate agent for the hazard is a process which should involve the suppression system supplier as there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Other configuration particulars that need to be determined at this point are whether an automatic or manual system is most appropriate; the type, number and placement of fire detecting sensors; and the number and location of manual actuation points. System options like engine shutdown, remote alarms, and telematics integration can also be chosen at this point to complete a system configuration.

It is important that a right-sized system is settled upon once this stage is reached. It is easy to subscribe to a ‘more is better’ mentality at this point, but sufficiently sized systems are the most desired outcome for the end user. On the other hand, undersized systems that are insufficiently sized might seem attractive due to their lower price points, but their effectiveness when discharging is suspect at best.

To find the appropriate solution, one which is aptly sized yet economical, one should request that a copy of the system manufacturer’s recommendation be provided. If a specification sheet is not available, one should ask the service provider if the basis of its recommendation is founded on a solid fire risk assessment, thereby ensuring it is not arbitrary in nature or that non-certified components are not being offered.

Whether the result of a legal requirement, an industry standard or a proactive machine owner, every fire suppression system needs to be at least sufficient for the task at hand. AFEX Fire Suppression Systems believes in an open and honest assessment of the particular situation to establish its recommendations, the basis of which is a fire risk assessment. End users should be aware of this tool and be sure that their best interests are being taken into account through its use.

AFEX Referenced As Industry Experts on Vehicle Fire Protection in Heavy Industry Trade Publication

Tom Jackson of Equipment World magazine wrote a great piece for the March edition about reducing machine fire risk which features a call out section about vehicle fire suppression systems. Quoted in the article is AFEX VP, Mr. Rod Cavallaro, who speaks to the state of the industry in general and how AFEX is always looking ahead to account for industry advancements and trends.

Read the article here.

AFEX Control Unit and System Featured in International Mining Magazine

AFEX Fire Suppression Systems would like to thank International Mining for including their Control Unit in the October issue. Included in the piece is an overview of dual agent systems which combine the benefits of a dry A:B:C powder agent and a liquid agent. The magazine itself is a global, technical publication which is written for miners by miners. The article may be read in it's entirety here.