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Fire Safety for Process Heating Plants

Fire is an imminent threat at plants that use thermal fluid for process heat. Because the fluid is often above its flash point during normal operation, any upset condition such as a spark or a leak can cause a catastrophic fire.

Fires can occur when hot thermal oil is exposed to air. The most common sources for thermal fluid fires are the mechanical seal of thermal fluid pumps as well as flanged connections such as thermal oil piping.

There are 2 components to fire safety: preventative safety and suppression.

Thermal fluid degrades during normal operation, and high- and low-boilers can form in the fluid. This results in a decrease in the fluid’s flash point and fire point. It is recommended to regularly test your thermal fluid for key indicators of degradation and take measures to correct any damage through a routine flash point recovery program or if the issue is severe, a full oil replacement.

While most fires can be avoided by the implementation of preventative programs, it is equally important to be prepared for an active fire. Foam and chemical fire suppression systems are the industry standards for fire suppression. Conventional fire suppression methods are often slow to respond to an active fire and regularly lead to capital equipment loss and costly production downtime. Fortunately, new technologies are arising regularly to improve the efficacy of fire suppression at manufacturing plants.

Wechsler Technologies and Engineering is pioneering innovative ways to prevent, detect, and suppress fires at facilities with thermal oil systems. We would love to talk to you about your operation and how we can give you the peace of mind that your fire safety protocols and equipment are in line with the most current and effective technology that exists today.


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