Royal Canadian Navy Evaluation of Handheld Aerosol Extinguishers
Sheehan, Thomas David
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Defence Research and Development Canada - Atlantic is currently under a project arrangement with Sweden and Holland to investigate new or emerging fire suppression technologies in naval applications. One possible outcome of this project arrangement could be the identification of a safe and effective Halon 1301 replacement suppression agent within the respective navies. The subject area Canada has agreed to investigate is aerosol fire extinguishing agent technologies. Although aerosols have been shown to be effective in suppressing demonstration fires, to date there has been little systematic scientific research into fire suppression using aerosol particulates. Therefore, there is a need for more in depth investigation of some of the commercial aerosol products available on the market to determine their fire suppression efficacy in naval applications, as well as any potential negative impacts that the aerosol may have on personnel, equipment and the environment. Aerosol suppression systems range from small handheld grenade extinguishers to large fitted and remotely activated aerosol dispersal units. The fire research and testing presented in this thesis looks specifically at the efficacy and safe use of two variants of the small handheld aerosol extinguishers, while also assessing aerosol agent suppression technologies overall. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) currently uses a two tiered response to fire, consisting of first response by a Rapid Response Team (RRT), followed by full response by an Attack Team (AT). A Rapid Attack Team (RAT) has been introduced as an intermediate response team. To enhance efficiency of the RRTs or RATs, handheld aerosol units, in this evaluation the Dry Sprinkler Powder Aerosol (DSPA) and StatX fire knock down aerosol extinguishers, could potentially be stored throughout the ship or transported by the teams to a fire scene and used to control, suppress or even extinguish a fire prior to the AT arriving on the scene, particularly in the case of smaller enclosure fires. To fully evaluate their potential for use in this capacity, it is important to carefully study the suppression efficacy of these units under conditions similar to those in which they would be deployed, as well as to better understand their impact on a fire environment in terms of important parameters such as compartment temperature reduction, visibility, oxygen concentration, aerosol particulate dwell time, and toxicity. In terms of operational issues related to deployment of these pyrotechnic tools onboard RCN vessels, it is critical to assess the requirements for extinguisher safe storage and to gain an understanding of the incendiary potential of the units, as well as post suppression overhaul, smoke/agent clearing and compartment gas free certification. The thesis includes a description of the experimental design, measurement techniques, and key results and conclusions for each of the 26 full-scale simulated marine enclosure live fire tests that were conducted. In general, handheld aerosol extinguishers have proven to be effective for fire control and even suppression under certain circumstances. They can improve the fire safety of RCN vessels when used correctly. Experimental data measured that relate to the consequences of accidental discharge and incendiary potential can also be used to ensure naval applications are safe and effective.