The decision to add fire suppression systems to your fleet is a great investment not only to protect the equipment itself but for the safety of the operator. Fire suppression systems work if installed and maintained properly. Once installed it is very important that the systems be routinely serviced by a qualified company and checked daily for damage. Heavy equipment operates in a rough environment that can be a challenge to components of the machine. Many industries require pre-shift inspections for this reason. Incorporating the fire system in with your existing pre-shift inspection adds no more than a few seconds to the process.
An operator and/or mechanic that is familiar with the fire system can actually prevent repair cost. Understanding how the system works and what the different components do will help them know when to alert management that there may be a problem. If the systems are left in poor condition the system may not operate as designed. Each fire systems manufacturer has a users manual that give pre-shift inspection instructions. You can obtain the manual from your service provider. You can also ask your service provider if they have classes available for your team.
The Pre-Shift Inspection Process
Step 1 -
As you walk up to the equipment look for dry chemical on the ground or on the machine. This would indicate that the system has discharged and the equipment is no longer protected. You must call your service provider to get the system recharged.
Step 2 -
Look at the ground level remote actuator. Ensure that it has a red strike button, pull pin/safety seal, cartridge in place and that the hose is attached. One of the task to disable the system for maintenance is to completely disarm the system to prevent an unwanted discharge. One of the items on the check list is to unscrew the actuation
cartridges. It is especially important to do an inspection after anyone other than you has been in contact with the equipment or after you wash it.
Step 3 –
Look at ground level nozzles. Nozzles are the point of exit for the fire fighting chemical.
Nozzles are strategically located in areas that have the most potential of having a fire. It is important that nozzles are there and protected from the outside elements clogging the hose. This is usually done with a cap of some sort. They come in all sizes and types. Whatever the type, the cap must be on at all times. If the hose becomes clogged the wet or dry chemical will never make it to its intended target.
Step 4 -
Look at the hand held fire extinguisher. Make sure the unit is there and secure in
the bracket. Also look to make sure the unit has not been discharged.
Step 5 -
Look at the fire suppression cylinders and brackets. Make sure there is no visible
damage to any of the components. Look at the hose connections to ensure they are in
place and not loose.
Step 6 -
Look at nozzles and detection lines located in and around the engine and transmission areas. Detection lines and its components can become loose after maintenance or due to normal wear and tear. If detection lines are not secure it can cause a discharge.
Step 7 -
Enter the cab and look at the panel and actuator. The actuator in the cab looks very similar to the one at ground level. The only difference is there will be a wire coming from the panel to the actuator. Of course check to make sure the red strike button, pull pin/safety seal, cartridge is in place and the hose is attached as well as the wire is in place. Most panels have lights that indicate the condition of the system. Make sure that
the light is green and the panel is not making any noises. This is a quick pre-shift inspection of an automatic system. Some systems are not automatic and will not discharge in the event of a fire without the assistance of an operator. The pre-shift inspection is the same excluding the panel and detection components. In summary, it’s important that fire suppression systems are kept in good working order.
A pre-shift inspection is necessary to ensure the components are present and in good