Intertec has supplied three groundbreaking passive fire shelters for offshore gas production platforms in the Arabian Gulf.

The fire shelters are designed to protect the vital control electronics of automatic emergency shutdown and fire-suppression systems.

The Middle East offshore gas project fire shelters are designed to withstand fire for 120min, affording maximum protection to the control electronics of a platform’s ESD and fire-suppression systems under all foreseeable circumstances.

A large outward-opening door provides personnel with unfettered access to routine equipment inspection and maintenance.

For air conditioning and ventilation purposes, the shelters are equipped with special fire-resistant air transfer grilles containing intumescent damper slats that are especially designed for use in harsh environments.

Under normal conditions, the grilles allow an unrestricted flow of air into and out of the shelter. However, in the event of a fire, the heat activates the intumescent material, which then creates a very durable and insulating barrier against the ingress of flames and hot gases.

All three fire shelters are floor-mounted ‘walk-in’ models of a style more usually associated with process analyser shelters and are the largest that Intertec has produced to date.

"The fire shelters are designed to protect the vital control electronics of automatic emergency shutdown and fire-suppression systems."

Shelters represent a major advance over many current fire protection technologies used in this area, such as fire-safe buildings constructed from concrete or steel and covered with fire-resistant ceramic tiles, or conventional shelters covered with intumescent materials, which can hinder access.

The weight of the composite GRP materials that Intertec uses is approximately 25% that of steel, for a similar strength, and only 10% that of concrete, making it especially suitable for offshore applications.

Shelters are fabricated using lightweight composite glass reinforced polyester (GRP) materials and they employ patented techniques to resist fire for two hours, allowing critical electronic safety equipment to remain operational.

Intertec designs, manufactures and tests its fire shelters to a rigorous proprietary specification, which demands that their internal temperature must remain below 60°C throughout the rated protection time.

The novel shelters are also capable of withstanding both conventional and more severe hydrocarbon fires.

Intertec’s Martin Hess said: "Our ability to manufacture fire-resistant enclosures, cabinets and shelters and to tailor their dimensions, as well as other specification properties like thermal insulation, explosion protection, IP rating, extreme storm rating and blast proofing, is opening up new markets in the offshore and onshore sector."

To date, Intertec produced almost all of the fire-resistant enclosures with a smaller cabinet designed to protect specific critical process control elements of refineries, petrochemical plants and offshore platforms; typically electromechanical emergency shutdown (ESD) valves and actuators.

According to Intertec, it is the first time that fire shelters have been specified for the even more demanding role of protecting heat-sensitive control system electronics from the direct and indirect effects of fire.

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