Kidde Fire Trainers: Fire simulation in the petrochemical industry

Kidde Fire Trainers are being used to train rookie firefighters for potentially dangerous situations

Outdoor and industrial fires are one of the most frequently occurring disasters firefighters have to encounter, especially in countries with strong petrochemical industries. Occurrences like split flange fires on raised industrial platforms, exploding gas tanks or damaged tankers with leaking and burning hazardous materials are only a few typical scenarios. All firefighters – especially civil defence and industrial ones – have to be prepared to encounter these emergencies in an appropriate manner.
The question every fire chief has to answer is how to prepare his fire officers for these very different kinds of situations? Traditional fire training that was conducted by burning unreliable fire accelerants such as wood, diesel, etc. does not satisfy the needs of modern fire training anymore – the needs for realistic, effective, economic, environmentally-friendly and safe training.
Companies like Kidde Fire Trainers offer a simple solution for these needs: Live fire training simulators. These systems simulate typical emergency scenarios with hot fire, limited visibility and realistic sound that demand a great deal from every firefighter. They are typically fuelled by clean-burning Propane, Butane or natural gas, not only fulfilling the modern training needs but also offering several advantages beyond.
Programmable training scenarios allow an interlinked start of different fire sources on certain conditions, for instance those involving an “automatic agent detection” that reacts to the amount of used extinguishing agent and decides whether a fire has been cooled down enough to stop it reigniting again. These computer-controlled scenarios can be exactly replicated for every training session offering the opportunity to record, analyze and compare training results of each trainee. Another vital addition to the training experience is their flexibility in creating different fire scenarios through various mock-ups.
The use of cost-effective and easy to obtain gases ensures both an economical and environmentally friendly training option all around the globe. The fueled gases have only a minimal environmental impact on air or extinction water, allowing live burn training even in populated areas. Firefighters in countries with only limited water resources such as in the Middle East might be strongly interested in the fact that Kidde Fire Trainers have successfully delivered a water recirculation system that recycles most of the used extinguishing water for new trainings.
Short preparation times for each training session play another significant role in the cost-effective conduction of trainings, enabling the operators to conduct more training sessions within a shorter period. This also promotes the relatively fast amortisation of the investment of buying a live fire training system.
Industrial-petrochemical live fire training systems, as Kidde Fire Trainers classifies them, typically simulate fires at raised or even multi-story industrial platforms. They simulate a wide variety of fires, for instance tank fires (boil-over, horizontal or vertical), pump packing fires, pit fires or split-flange fires with high flames. Firefighters not only have to learn the techniques and tactics to extinguish these special types of fire, but also how to correctly approach those on a small-sized raised industrial platform.
Burning fuel spill incidents are the most common occurrence of outdoor-industrial fires. The majority of which are related to transportation accidents or to leaking tanks leading to a spill of flammable liquids. It must not be forgotten that these are indeed hazardous material fires which need to be treated in a certain way. As these fire types are quite frequent, every firefighter should be familiarised with the appropriate techniques to encounter them.
Fuel spill fire training systems simulate the expanding fires running on leaking liquids which take shape as large walls of fire with very high flames posing both a physical and psychological threat to firefighters. Systems like the O-series of Kidde Fire Trainers start at a relatively small area running to a larger area of up to 6 x 6 m for over 57 feet (17 m) of fire with peak flame heights of 15 m if not handled correctly. These trainers can reach temperatures up to 1100°F (593°C).
To overcome infernal situations like these mentioned afore, firefighters have to follow the appropriate fire ground tactics such as:
• Stopping the further flow of fuel in either shutting off the leaking system or placing a patch on the leak.
• Cooling down the exposures, for example a leaking tank, while at the same time avoiding flooding the content of the tank itself.
• Choosing the appropriate extinguishing agent (water or foam, type of foam, proper form of foam application technique)
All of these steps can be properly trained with live fire training systems. To improve the realistic impression, additional mock-ups can be added to the scenario. These mock-ups can be either passive or active ones.
Especially active mock-ups can further enhance the training experience as they combine various systems to an all complete live fire scenario. Let’s take for instance tanker/hazmat fires: Realistically simulated roadway tanker and railroad tanker accidents consist not only of running fuel spills but also of split flange fires, pressure relief valve fires or hazmat leak scenarios at the tanker fuselage.
Kidde Fire Trainers systems can simulate class A, B and C fires and can be used with different extinguishing agents like water, foam (CAFS & ARFF) or CO2. In addition the systems can replicate the reactions of certain media like foam and powder even though water is actually used. To ensure the safety of trainees, the systems are certified to international safety standards by recognized test laboratories as recommended by NFPA 1402 or in accordance with the CE & DIN Standards.
In addition all systems are suitably designed to counter the harsh environments experienced in different parts of the world, including the extreme and challenging ambient high temperatures experienced within the Middle East. Kidde Fire Trainers have applications, which are field-proven in such environments as Dubai, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Doha where a site is under construction at the moment.
At Kidde Fire Trainers the degree of automation differentiates the training systems in two series: While the O-100 series is manually controlled via handheld controls, the O-250 series is completely computer-interfaced controlled – not only by handheld but also by PLC controls.
Kidde offers wired and wireless handheld controls called pendants. Each of them is equipped with an emergency stop button, but while the O-250 pendant allows a detailed control of parameters like flame height, burn area growths, etc., the O-100 pendant only allows start/stop operation of the training system. The wired pendants have illuminated buttons that intuitively indicate the system’s status while the wireless pendants permit greater movements around the site of a fire.
Another advantage of the O-250 series is the capability of its automatic agent detection. The PLC can detect the amount of extinguishing agent used by a trainee. For example, this allows them to run the quite typical scenario, where flames automatically grow up again if the trainee has not used enough water to cool down the fire site even though the flames seemed to be extinguished.
One of the most important basic needs on modern training systems has remained unmentioned until now: The safety of the trainees. The use of gas and the high training capacity pose a big challenge to the safety systems of live fire training systems. These systems must be completely safe and fully controllable. Various security systems like automatic gas and temperature detection, fail safe gas valves, emergency ventilation systems and manual emergency stops are installed in each of Kidde’s FireTrainers®. Their self-testing systems prevent them from starting in case of any failure. In addition, every fire training system complies with either NFPA or DIN standards as per the clients’ requirements and is tested by a third party laboratory. As a result of these measures, Kidde Fire Trainers’ customers have safely conducted over 4 million successful trainings in around 32 years. Fire chiefs should ensure that the fire training system they are going to buy complies with these latest state-of-the-art safety techniques.
There is no doubt that computer-controlled live fire training systems supercede traditional fire training in many ways, especially in their unmatched degree of realism, safety, training and cost-effectiveness. The additional features of the systems, such as agent detection, offer further benefits that traditional training cannot compete with.
Live fire training offers a very high degree of safety for the trainees and high environmental sustainability. It is especially this last aspect that negates any community and legislative concerns about air and water pollution, making live fire training system the first and proven choice for every fire training professional worldwide.
Even though the systems of all competitors at the market offer more or less the same features at first glance, they differ in quality and the used safety systems. Everyone planning to buy a live fire training system should take a closer look if their systems fulfill at least the safety standards set by the NFPA/DIN and by local authorities. It should also be kept in mind that a better quality of the system normally results in an increased life expectation.
About Kidde Fire Trainers:
With more than 30 years of experience and over 700 training systems worldwide, Kidde Fire Trainers are leaders in the industry, offering a wide range of fire training solutions including mobile, outdoor, aircraft, structural, and portable scenarios. Kidde live fire training simulators realistically replicate the heat, smoke, flames and chaos of a real fire emergency, yet do so in a controlled and environmentally sound manner.
Kidde Fire Trainers is part of UTC Climate Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX). More information about Kidde Fire Trainers can be found at

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