Industrial extinguishing systems must be periodically inspected, tested and maintained. The government wants this to be done from now on according to the principles of the American NFPA 25 (National Fire Protection Association). Companies at Chemelot must make adjustments to comply with this. Sitech fire brigade and engineers came up with a practical and time-saving solution.
Best practices compared
It all started during an audit in 2020 at one of the companies at Chemelot. Sebastiaan Guzik, Reliability Engineer at Sitech: "The maintenance of the extinguishing systems here was organized according to the best practices of the Chemelot fire brigade. These were drawn up in consultation with customers at the time. However, NFPA 25 prescribes other best practices. We then put them side by side for a so-called gap analysis. On a number of points, the best practices at companies at Chemelot differed from the government standards."
Risk different approach 99% acceptable
Different does not mean, however, that our best practices are not good. For example, NFPA 25 requires you to demonstrate the integrity of pipes with wall thickness measurements. "We have secured that in a different way, namely through our inspection methods," said Wim Tholen, Manager of Operations Day Support at Sitech Fire Brigade & Security. "We assessed all the anomalies in the gap analysis to see if the risk of a different approach was acceptable. That turned out to be 99 percent the case. We explained this to the government and they accept that we deviate from the standards on certain points. As long as we document this transparently."
Customization for Chemelot companies
On other points, the best practices do need to be partially adjusted. Sebastiaan arranged that for the audited company: "These new best practices cannot be copied 1-to-1 for other customers. It's customization, because every customer has different installations." So all companies at Chemelot will eventually have to adjust their best practices for extinguishing installations. Anticipating this, Wim made a schedule in advance. "The government knows this schedule and knows exactly when it is the turn of which companies. They take that into account in their audits."
Close cooperation in audits
SABIC is one of the first companies to introduce new best practices. Sebastiaan: "In 2022 we will do this at all the tank farms, and the rest will follow in 2023. Although the facilities are different, we can use the same approach. So first make a gap analysis to then determine what is critical and what we need to do something with. For this we work closely with the government auditors. As Sitech, we have the knowledge and expertise in-house to help all plants meet government standards."
SABIC happy with knowledge and expertise from Sitech
As Senior Engineer Process Safety, Armand Slangen is closely involved in adapting best practices at SABIC. He is pleased with Sitech's specific knowledge and expertise. "This has taken a lot of work off our hands," he responds. "Otherwise, we would have had to figure out a lot more on our own. SABIC is an international company, so we think it's important to work in accordance with international standards. True, there are minor differences from NFPA 25, but by explaining them well, the government has confidence in them. And so do we. We still had until 2024 to make adjustments, but thanks to this approach we hope to complete the matter for SABIC as early as 2023."