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Safety first - deluge pump installation at Heathrow Airport

At London’s Heathrow Airport, training fire crews is an almost constant activity, which is why it has a purpose-designed fire training rig constructed from steel to the same size as a Boeing 747. Packed full of safety sensor devices it is a pretty expensive piece of kit with a replacement price tag of around £10 million. So when it is set on fire during training exercises, putting out the fire has to be fast and effective in order to ensure safety for the fire crews undergoing training and preserving the integrity and fabric of the rig. 

In the interests of ensuring optimum performance and attaining greater energy efficiency, BAA Heathrow replaced its existing deluge pump system with a state-of-the-art pump system designed and fabricated by AxFlow. The new unit comprises four Lowara 92SV3/2AG185T Vertical multistage pumps with 18.5 kW motors. The pumps have been sized for a duty of 1746lts/min @ 46.2m/hd giving a total flow rate of 5,238lts/min with three pumps running one being used as a spare. AxFlow selected these pumps due to their high efficiency and compact footprint as they had to fit the four pumps into the space occupied by the one (albeit larger) pump.

“The former pumping arrangement was using one pump and a 110kw motor,” reports Richard Maher at AxFlow UK. “This ran at full speed regardless of the demand on the system, which could vary between filling the fire tenders’ on-board tanks to a full deluge of the training rig itself. The new system uses one 18.5kw pump when filling the tenders and three 18.5kw pumps to fully cool the rig, so there is a considerable saving in power consumption. Also the pumps are controlled by ABB ACH550 inverters so the running speed can be set to match the duty exactly.”

Fire training is held on a regular basis with each session ranging between one and two hours. The rig is set on fire internally and externally with LPG, and the fires last for around three minutes. The purpose of the deluge pumps is to cool the rig and to control the overhead water fill on the fire training ground. The deluge starts before the scenario and works through the period of the fire and then for about one minute after the fire has stopped.

“In summary the water supply system for the rig is now fit for purpose, providing greater flexibility, maintainability and power reductions,” says Ian Jolly, BAA Water Services.  “Many thanks to AxFlow for another quality installation.  All in all, an excellent result all round.”

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