No matter what the source of a disaster is - explosion, fire, hurricane, earthquake or tornado - a key factor in loss control is an adequate usable water supply for emergency response, either domestic or industrial. Kidde Fire Fighting's team has looked outside the box for a solution.
Kidde's high capacity Big Flow fire fighting system incorporates various products made by Kidde - pumps, monitors, hose and foam - to maximize the distance it is possible to move the water needed in a flammable liquid emergency, said Bill Drake, product manager for Kidde.
"The Big Flow system uses specialized pumping equipment that is capable of flows from 5,000 to 10,000 gallons per minute," Drake said. "You have flexible pipeline which is an ultra-large diameter hose in continuous lengths of 660 feet deployed via specially designed equipment."
The hose can be laid over long distances so your pumps can be located at a significant distance from both the hazard and the source, he said.
"The final piece of the system is the delivery device, a specially designed water cannon that can be operated by a single individual and discharge water or foam solution at distances up to or greater than 500 feet," Drake said. "Range is important as it allows the delivery device operator to function at a safe distance from the hazard."
The only component of the system not manufactured by Kidde is the water itself.
Big Flow uses specialized Neptune pumps to deliver large volumes of water in a very short period of time, making it one of the largest full-scale response systems in the world. The system is also able to draw water from a number of different sources, adding to its flexibility.
In particular, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security put the innovative Big Flow system to the test in December during a test in West Deptford Township, N.J. The system was adopted earlier this year as part of New Jersey's security and disaster preparedness initiatives.
"We have several systems currently in place in the northern part of the state," said Dennis Jackson, vice president of domestic sales for Kidde Fire Fighting. "This is the first time the southern portion of the state has decided it wanted a system like this. The New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Community Affairs funded the technology."
The southern portion of New Jersey includes a critical industrial infrastructure that would benefit from having the Big Flow system available, he said.
"Philadelphia on the other side of the Delaware River has the second largest capacity for refining oil in the U.S. behind Houston," Jackson said. "The Delaware River is a critical transportation corridor. A major event, either accidental or man made, could cause huge financial repercussions for the region and the nation."
Components of the Big Flow system include:
- Mobile Neptune pumping systems with flows in excess of 5,000 gallons per minute at pressures of up to 150 psi and more
- Dominator trailer-mounted, engine driven pumps
- Mobile foam delivery devices, both educting and non educting, with flows up to 10,000 gallons per minute
- Ultra large diameter 12-inch Super Aquaduct NSF 61 potable water 'layflat' hose
- Hose deployment, retrieval and storage equipment
- Hose manifolds and hardware
- Foam proportioning and foam transport equipment
- A wide range of foam concentrates featuring Universal Gold AR-AFFF.
The Big Flow system can be integrated with other standard firefighting components to provide maximum versatility. Also, the Big Flow system can function as a flood water removal system or as an emergency above ground water distribution system to temporarily supplement or replace damaged or compromised underground systems.
Among the big innovations of the Big Flow system is the Neptune pumping system and its ability to lift water 50 feet at distances up to 150 feet.
"Say for instance that the hydrant system has failed," said Jackson. "A typical drafting pump may not be able to access the water because of height restrictions or tides."
The Neptune pumping system consists of two floating satellite pumps that "lift" the water and feed a primary booster pump. Both the satellite pumps and booster pump are driven by two large Caterpillar diesel engines, and the entire system is contained in a single modular unit. Using the Neptune system allows firefighters greater access to a wide variety of water sources.
An alternative to the Neptune pumping system is the Dominator trailer mounted pumping system.
"The Dominator pump system is a more conventional drafting pump system, which consists of a large diesel engine, a large split-case pump and a vacuum system on the manifold that allows the pump to pump from draft," Drake said. "That pump is limited by physics. You can only draft as much as your atmospheric pressure will allow, meaning you only effectively lift about 10 feet vertical from a distance of maybe 20 feet maximum from the water source."
The latest addition to Kidde's Big Flow pumping arsenal is the Triton pumping system, a trailer mounted unit that utilizes the same satellite pumps from the Neptune system, but does not include a booster pump. The Triton system provides the unique lifting capabilities of the Neptune system and enables fire departments to utilize their own existing pumpers to be fed by the Triton system thereby eliminating the need to pump from draft.
"Three different pump systems allow us a great deal of flexibility," Jackson said.
Drake said a contract for the Big Flow system is currently pending in Florida as well. Many international projects utilizing Big Flow are also underway.
"Big Flow is a fairly new technology," Drake said. "It's somewhat of a paradigm shift because of the versatility a system like this can provide. Kidde is the only company that can bring this kind of system together from the water cannon to the large diameter hose, pumping package, deployment/retrieval equipment and foam concentrate."
In any kind of large flammable liquid fire, this would be the type of technology to utilize, he said. Industrial fire and emergency responders working in collaboration with community emergency planning groups can help their plant and their community seek grants and fund the system as a critical emergency incident resource ready for action in a wide range of scenarios. o