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Coolingtowersthenameitselfgivestheairoftheoppositiontofire.Theirexistenceisforthe soulpurposeofremovingheat.However,coolingtowerscontainveryrealfirehazards: PolyvinylChloride(PVC)fill;FiberglassReinforcedPlastic(FRP)walls(FRPisoftenmistakenasan acronymforfireresistantplastic),fanstacks,fandecks,fanblades,louvers,partitions,andcatch basins;AcrylonitrileButadieneStyrene(ABS)andPolypropylenenozzles;andwood.Cooling towersaresusceptibletofirewhentheyareonlineoroff.Whenacoolingtowerisonline,there areseveraldryareaswithinthebuildingwithfirehazardsavailabletofuelablaze.When coolingtowersareoffline,theyareatgreaterriskforfirewithalargervolumeofdryspaceto invade.Dontwaituntilafireeruptsinacoolingtowertofindoutthefiresprinklerpipeshave failed. Causes:CoolingTowerPipeDeterioration Pipecorrosionandscaleformationarepartofthe lifecycleofpipeswithinacoolingtower.Thehumidliving conditionsofthesepipesaretheperfectcatalystforthe deteriorationoffireprotectionpipes.

s.Infact,without pipeandgeneralmetalcomponentupkeep,itis estimatedthatacoolingtowerwillneedtobecompletely torndownandrebuiltapproximatelyeverytwentyyears. Therearethreemaintriggersofpipebreakdownina coolingtower. 1. ContaminatedWater Manycoolingtowersareopenandexposedtothe outsideenvironment.Airpollutionparticulatesand dissolvedgasescontaminatethewater.When evaporationoccurs,thepurevaporwaterentersthe atmosphere,whilethecontaminatedwaterremains inthecoolingtowerinaconcentratedstate.Thisacceleratesthecorrosionprocess. Thecorrosionprocessisdictatedbythevelocityofthewater.Highvelocitywaterincreases thevolumeofcorrosionbytransportingoxygenandparticulatestothemetalpipesata quickrate,providingtheopportunitytocontaminatealargervolumeofpiping.Whenthe watervelocityislow,itlocalizestheparticulatedistribution,causinggreaterdamagetoa smallerarea.Thedeterioratingmatterissittinginonespot,givingittheopportunitytoeat awayatthepipeinaconcentratedmanner. ContaminatedwateraffectsthepHbalanceofthewater,providingnewopportunitiesfor deteriorationandcorrosion.

QSR72201 REV10/1/2012

2. pHBalance Waterincoolingtowerscomesfromavarietyofsources,andthesourcewilldictatethepH balanceofthewater.Thedamagecausedbyparticulatesbecomesexasperatedwhenthe waterlosesitspHbalanceandbecomeseithertooacidicortooalkaline.Theimbalanceof pHcancauseeitherscaleformationorcorrosion,dependingonthenumberitreacheson thepHscale. WaterthatisapHbalanceofsixorlowerisacidicandincreasescorrosion.Acidicwater mixedwithoxygenandcontaminateslikechlorideorsulfatewillcausecorrosion.Corrosion isthedeteriorationofmetalthroughchemicalorelectrochemicalreactionwithits environment. WaterthathasapHbalanceof8orhigheristooalkaline,causingscalestoform.Alkaline waterhashighconcentrationsofcalciumand/ormagnesium.Thecalciumormagnesium carbonatebecomesdepositedonpipes,creatingscales.Whenscalesbuildup,itcantrap oxygen,causingcorrosion.Withoutannualinspection,testing,andmaintenance,afacility wouldnotlearnofthepipedeteriorationuntilafireeventhappens,leavingthefacility withoutwatersupplyfortheirfireprotectionsprinklers. Scalebuildupmaycausemicrobial growthbetweenthescalesandpipes. Thiscancausepipecorrosioncalled microbialinducedcorrosion(MIC)in additiontothealreadypresentscale problem. Therearethreedifferenttypesof attacksonthemetal: GeneralAttack:Corrosionis evenlydistributedoverthe metalsurface. PittingAttack:Smallareasof themetalarecorroded,likein thecaseofMIC. GalvanicAttack:Corrosion whentwodifferentmetalsare incontact. 3. WarmEnvironment Thewarmenvironmentistheperfectatmosphereformicrobestothrive.Themicrobial growthcausesdifferentialaeration.Differentialaeration,alsoknownasoxygen concentrationcells,occurswhenoxygenistrappedbetweenscalingandthemetalpipe.

QSR72201 REV10/1/2012

Thisentrapmentwillnotallowtheoxygentodiffusenaturallyanduniformly.Withoutthe abilitytodiffuseevenly,oxygendevelopsintoaconcentrationofcells,causingthecell concentrationtoeatawayatthepipewhereitistrapped.Every2530degreeincreasein temperaturedoublesthecorrosionrate. Thecontaminatedwater,pHbalance,andwarmatmosphereallactincombinationto corrodeorscalefireprotectionpipes. EnsuringSafetyintheEventofaFire Becauseofthenatureofacoolingtower,itisdifficulttofindaconvenienttimetotakeitoffline forinspection,testing,ormaintenance.However,annualinspectionscouldleadtoalonger lifespanforcoolingtowerfireprotection.Theenvironmentofacoolingtoweristheideal formulaforpipedecay.Itcannotbestopped,butitcanbedelayed. Todelaypipedecay,annualinspectionandtesting needstobecompletedbyaqualifiedfireprotection solutionprovider.Ifcorrosionorscalebuildupis foundearly,itcouldberectifiedwhenitisonlya smallproblemanddelaytheneedforacompletely newsystem.Ifcorrosionorscaleformationis foundandmaintenanceisneeded,thepipingsystemcanbereplacedwithstainlesssteel,which decaysatamuchslowerratethanstandardsteel. Donotdelayinreplacingafireprotectionsystemwhenithascorrodedbeyondthepointof repair.CoolingTowerfireprotectionsystems,ingeneral,needtobereplacedevery710years duetocorrosion.Withoutannualinspection,theonlywayforafacilitytolearnthatthefire protectionpipesystemiscorrodedorhassignificantscaleformationisifthereisafireandthe fireprotectionsolutionfails. Whenafireprotectionsprinklersystemreplacementisneeded,chooseafireprotection solutionproviderthatcanmeettheacceleratedtimelinethatcoolingtowersrequire.Many aspectsoftheinstallationcanbedonebeforehandoroffsitetominimizetheoutage:design, survey,materialdropoff,safetytraining,andcustompipefabrication.Formoreinformationon coolingtowerhazards,FMGlobalhascompiledanindepthdatasheetavailablehereorclick hereforFEMAscoolingtowerfirehazardtraining.

QSR72201 REV10/1/2012