DURASTEEL® Reduces Risk of Power Station Fire and Blast

On 8th August 2008 an explosion and subsequent fire at the Enron Power Station in Middlesborough, Teesside led to the deaths of 3 employees. The coroner’s report returned a verdict of ‘accidental death’. This followed an investigation in which the blast was found to have been caused by an electrical fault in a transformer, most probably a short circuit.

Power stations represent some of the most high risk working environments in the UK, because of the complex operations that take place on site. They also house a range of combustible materials which raises the potential for rapid spread of fire following a blast. For these reasons, power stations require the very highest levels of blast and fire protection, to ensure minimum risk for employees.

Transformer Barriers

At Enron, the initial blast occurred in the transformer room where routine maintenance was being carried out. Transformers transfer electrical energy between circuits. A sudden surge of electricity (as happened at Enron) can cause an explosion or fire without warning. For this reason, areas housing transformers are now required to provide added protection to avoid the spread of fire.

Wallace Fire Protection provides Promat DURASTEEL® blast resistance walls to power stations. These bespoke barriers are individually designed due to the access restrictions and confined spaces in which transformers are housed. Our blast barriers are lightweight and easy to install. The benefits include:

  • Up to 4 hours protection from fire spreading
  • Blast Resistant from 0.3 bar to 2 bar over pressure
  • Fast installation
  • Can be retro-fitted
  • Subject to seismic testing

Creating a Fire Protection Infrastructure in Power Stations

Promat DURASTEEL® is made up of fibre reinforced concrete which is mechanically bonded to punched steel sheets on both surfaces. It’s non-combustible and has been tested globally in the most extreme environments. As such, it’s the ideal material to form the basis of a passive fire protection system, providing employees with crucial time to evacuate the premises.

Power plants will normally have multiple transformers on site, and often these will be lined up adjacently. Wallace Fire ProtectionL designs compartmentalising DURASTEEL® barriers which both contain the explosion, and minimise the potential for a chain of explosions. By isolating the transformers from each other, the risk is substantially lessened.

Multiple Uses of Promat DURASTEEL® in Power Stations

The risk of transformer blasts is one vulnerability in power stations, but passive fire protection systems seek to create a defensive infrastructure throughout the entirety of the operating environment. We use Promat DURASTEEL® to house high voltage cables safely, provide fire protection for ventilation shafts and ducts, and compartmentalise tunnels to stop the rapid spread of fire following a blast.

Wallace Fire ProtectionL for Design and Installation

Our skilled and experienced team have designed and installed passive fire protection systems in high risk environments across the UK. We’ve provided firestopping solutions in nuclear facilities, power stations, transformer substations, waste management centres and railway depots. We’re committed to delivering second-to-none design and installation, whilst maintaining our excellent health a safety record.

If you would like to know more about the range of Promat DURASTEEL® firestopping solutions Dunbar Wallace offer, contact us today on 01908 109045