Fire Fighting Safety - June 3rd, 2014

Greetings from Gemini Energy Services! Here is the latest issue of our Monthly Safety Newsletter, and thank you for taking the time to check it out.

The wind industry is filled with hazards and the purpose of this newsletter is to share useful information, refresher training and safe work practices to our subscribers so that we can raise the bar for safety throughout the industry.  This week's topic focuses on Fire Fighting Safety.

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Best regards,
The Gemini Team
Combating Different Classes of Fires

In the wind energy industry we are posed with many challenges specific to our field.  Some of these challenges include prevention and suppression of fires that occur up-tower.  With some towers being over 300 feet tall and miles away from the nearest local fire department it is vital to know when and how to fight the fire or when to evacuate.  

There are many types of fires all designated by class. Class A fires involve combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper and certain plastics.  This type of fire can be combatted with water fire extinguishers to lower the material's temperature below ignition point.  The next class of fire is B which involves flammable materials such as grease and hydraulic fluid.  Smothering or using the blanketing effect with the applicable agent is the best way to put a Class B fire out.  Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment.  The safest and most effective way to combat this type of fire is to de-energize the source of power.  Once the power source has been removed, dry chemical (ABC) fire extinguishers can be used to control any potential spread to surrounding equipment.  Some wind turbines have emergency stops which remove all power.  But beware!  Not all turbines are created equally.  It is imperative to know all power sources to the turbine you are working on.  The last class and most difficult to fight are Class D fires.  These involve combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium and aluminum.  Class D fires require special extinguishing agents.  Do not attempt to fight this fire with water!  It may cause an explosion damaging additional equipment and potentially harming workers!

Even the most experienced technician may find him/herself in a situation where they are unable to suppress the fire up-tower.  It is imperative prior to conducting maintenance on a turbine that all egress paths have been identified.  These paths can be pointed out during the Job Safety Assessment.  If the fire threatens to spread and cannot be controlled, determine the location of your team and evacuate immediately.

In conclusion the best weapon for fire-fighting is fire prevention.  The potential for a fire to break our always exists when electronics, flammable oils and hydraulic fluid are in the same enclosure together.  Add shorts in electrical equipment, lighting strikes and power surges, and the possibility for fires up tower increases.  Safe practices such as removing all trash from the nacelle, following all proper "hot work" procedures and using aerodynamic braking are just a few of the actions that can help reduce the risk.  With training and implementation of safe practices we can help keep our turbines and technicians safe.  Remember, the life of a technician will always outweigh the life of a turbine! 
Join us for our Safety Webinar on Fire Fighting Training   

Thursday, June 26th 
 11: 00 am PST

In this webinar we will discuss fire prevention in an operational wind turbine.  We'll talk about  the  unique work environment a wind turbine presents and what must be assessed prior to beginning work.  Noting the possibility of a fire occurring, egress routes and emergency actions.

Register Today!

Gemini Energy Services is the premier independent service provider to the wind industry.  Safety is not just a philosophy at Gemini; it's our defining characteristic.  Whether Gemini technicians are driving to the project site or working on energized equipment in the hub, we strive for zero injuries.  Our proactive safety initiatives, which incorporate safety indoctrination, tailgate safety meetings, ongoing Personal Qualification Standards (PQS), a safety incentive program and completion of thorough Job Site Assessments, have resulted in an unblemished safety record.  We are confident that our colleagues in the wind industry share our commitment to safety and a zero-injury workplace.  


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