Article Archive
Variable Risks
New computer software calculates the endless variables involved in storage tank fire fighting.
Volume 25, No. 1

Industrial tank fire fighting is an endless list of variables -- percent of foam used, application rate, foam concentrate used per minute, total foam concentrate required, total gallons of water required and application time for extinguishment, among others. In the past, balancing these variables has taken experience, good judgment and more than a little art.

Based in Cedar Park, TX, FIT-Notes LLC software provides Tank Fire Notes. This is a software program to help sort out these variables. This program allows the user to calculate the amount of foam and water needed to extinguish a flammable liquid fire such as storage tank fires with the click of a mouse instead of paper and pencil.

"A fire scene is the last place you should have to sit with a calculator, paper and pencil to determine if you have the resources to extinguish a raging tank fire. There is a vast amount of technology available to us and we should use it to our best advantage." Carnegie said.

Tank Fire Notes is only one of a range of Fire Service related products sold by FIT-Notes, including their Incident Command program called FIT-Notes, Training Notes, Resource Notes, ISO Notes and Accident Notes.

With regard to tank fire fighting, municipal firefighters have a hard time grasping the balance of equipment and other resources needed in an emergency.

"Okay, I need this equipment," Carnegie said. "Now, where do I put it? How much foam do I need? How much water do I need? It can become overwhelming to many?firefighters. This is especially true for those who don't deal with tank fires on a regular basis"

"I realized there was a lot more involved than just doing a little math. The intent of Tank Fire Notes is to take all the math out of the hands of the person in the field and provide an easy to use system. The program allows the user to simply select what they have (a fire in a 145 foot diameter tank of gasoline), select from a list of available appliances and see if this will provide an acceptable solution." Carnegie said. The program provides data from this selection process like:?Amount of foam required both per minute and overall, the amount of water required, the foam run, and the distance each appliance should be placed from the tank.

When Tank Fire Notes is initially installed, the department is responsible for entering basic appliance information such as: gallons per minute of the appliance, reach in feet, pattern width, pattern length, nozzle pressure and expansion ratio. During the incident, the program automatically draws on this information when the firefighter selects this appliance.

The program breaks down into eight categories -- Foam Estimator, Flow Calculator, Nozzle Specifications, Post Fire Application, Phone Book, Resources, Field Tips and the System Setup

Using drop down menus for each entry in the 'Flow Calculator', along with prompts to guide the operator through the selection process, the firefighter gets to play "what if" to determine the best approach to extinguishing the fire. This can be used as part of a pre-fire planning process to determine what appliances are required to adequately deal with your facility or during an emergency.

After the fire is out, the 'Post Fire Application' helps to figure out when and for how long to re-apply the foam as a protective blanket.

"Putting that advanced information together with the information acquired at the scene allows the firefighter to say 'I have a 145-foot-diameter tank with gasoline on fire -- how much water and foam do I need? Where should I put the monitors? Is the foam proportioning correct? What kind of foam run can be expected? Tank Fire Notes makes these calculations in seconds."

No software program can cover all the bases in tank fire fighting. The firefighter is still required to make judgment calls in matters of wind direction and speed and how geography surrounding the tank affects placement of equipment.

"Managing a large-scale tank fire incident without a good system in place is challenging at best. We try to reduce the stress these incidents create by providing a program that any trained firefighter can easily use to help deal with these incidents." Carnegie said.

 
 

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