Fire Systems on Rolling Stock HELP!

JPNH

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Hi,

I am an apprentice for Northern coming to the end of my engineering apprenticeship. I have a powerpoint presentation to do on fire systems for rolling stock. I am looking for any help possible on the history of fire systems, Ive been googling but struggling to find any significant information of the history of fire systems and when they were brought in and a significant reason to why they were brought in e.g. a famous fire.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 
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37057

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There's a piece in this video of the fire system doing its job on an old DMU. I'm sure there are people at Newton Heath who might remember them.

As for modern DMUs (my own experience being 185s but should be inline with most), they're fitted with a twisted pair of wires that run around and over the engine. It's electrical resistance is monitored so if it short circuits, audible alarms and visual indicators commence (in cab and external) and the bottle discharges AFFF when the train is at a near stand still. Open circuit triggers fault indicators. In both cases the engine will shut down. The nozzles are designed to aim at certain areas of the engine such as the turbocharger etc. There's also manual handles connected directly to the bottle actuator via cable too.

Internally they're fitted with smoke detectors in the saloons and toilets.

Maintenance wise, its important to carry out the tasks. Bottles and actuators go through overhaul, cables need to keep tension, cab and saloon extinguishers need to be kept in date, there's test kits for simulating engine fires and actuator timing and even smoke-in-a-can for the internals...

Also, gangway doors have intumescent seals and engine rock shields have intumescent paint applied.
 
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John Webb

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Additional information/detail added:
The Taunton sleeper fire was in a coach due to linen in a bag being left against a heater and igniting. A lack of fire detection allowed the fire to grow undetected and it swept through the coach.
There were several fires in coaches in the late 1940s and in the 1950s caused by hot cinders igniting flammable varnish inside the coaches; 23rd June 1949, 8th June 1950, 14th July 1951, 14th March 1952 are mentioned in Stanley Hall's "Railway Disasters" page 132 (published 1992 by the Promotional Reprint Co) or Chapter 1 of his "Danger on the line" (published 1989 by Ian Allan and which forms the second part of "Railway Disasters"). The official reports of these and other accidents can be found at The Railways Archive website.

DMUs and locomotives fire protection systems are mentioned in Section 15 of "Diesel Traction - Manual for Enginemen" published in 1962 by the British Transport Commission (who ran BR at the time). Locos tended to use Carbon Dioxide as the extinguishing agent. DMUs went in for other gaseous agents including BCF (Bromo-Chloro-diFluromethane) which used lighter cylinders as they could be stored at lower pressures than CO2. But BCF was withdrawn some 30 years ago as being unkind to the Ozone Layer. These days it's 'AFFF' as mentioned by 37057 above - stands for 'Aqueous Film-Forming Foam' - has the advantage over gases in that it isn't blown away so readily.
Some early DMUs were prone to fires due to design and maintenance problems. These involved a build-up of flammable grease which could ignite, or the positioning of fuel tanks over rotating cardan shafts such that if the cardan shaft or its universal joints failed, the tank was punctured.....

A word of caution - when reading books or reports prior to the mid-1970s, you will come across the terms "Non-inflammable" and "Inflammable". The preferred terms since the mid-1970s are "Non-flammable" and "Flammable" respectively. Regrettably some people mixed up 'Inflammable' with 'Non-flammable' with poor results; some people still get them confused today!
 
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matchmaker

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As mentioned above by John Webb, there were a number of serious train fires in the late 1940s/early 1950s due to the use of highly flammable nitrocellulose lacquer - check Beattock 8th June 1950, Penmanshiel Tunnel 23rd June 1949 and Huntingdon 4th July 1951.
 

High Dyke

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It also has to be noted that traditional loco-hauled coaching stock has never had a built in fire suppression system, only hand operated fire extinguishers. I stand to be corrected on the use of "never".
 

John Webb

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It also has to be noted that traditional loco-hauled coaching stock has never had a built in fire suppression system, only hand operated fire extinguishers. I stand to be corrected on the use of "never".
I'm not aware either of any loco-hauled stock fitted with any fire suppression system in the UK; that's from 65 years of railway enthusiasm, nearly 30 years of working on fire safety matters and 20+ years of active retirement still doing occasional consultation work.
The Taunton sleeper fire of 6th July 1978 caused a re-evaluation of the design of the new Mk3 sleepers that were being planned. I wasn't directly involved with this, alas, (other colleagues were) and am uncertain if fire suppression was ever suggested. In the end they went for improved fire resistance and compartmentation together with fire detection and alarm systems.
 

Tynwald

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Quite a complicated subject you have chosen there. Fire systems were introduced with the move to modern (non steam) traction. AC locos & DMU had Halon gas, diesel locos had CO2 systems. but that is just the start of it. I could write chapter and verse about whats happened since.
 

JPNH

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Quite a complicated subject you have chosen there. Fire systems were introduced with the move to modern (non steam) traction. AC locos & DMU had Halon gas, diesel locos had CO2 systems. but that is just the start of it. I could write chapter and verse about whats happened since.
Thankyou, its a topic i got given as I have to complete a presentation as part of finishing my apprenticeship. Do you have any information on when the fire system was brought in date wise (roughly) and was there a significant accident / reason as to why they were brought in? Also do you know which DMU's used the fire system first.
 

John Webb

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Thankyou, its a topic i got given as I have to complete a presentation as part of finishing my apprenticeship. Do you have any information on when the fire system was brought in date wise (roughly) and was there a significant accident / reason as to why they were brought in? Also do you know which DMU's used the fire system first.
To the best of my knowledge locos were fitted with fire suppression systems from the start (not certain about the smaller shunting locos). I think the same applied to the DMUs; I assume it was realised that with the engine(s) and fuel underneath occupied carriages it was sensible to control the early stages of a fire to enable the train to be evacuated. (Unfortunately I can't find my book on the early DMUs to see for certain.)
 
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WesternLancer

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To the best of my knowledge locos were fitted with fire suppression systems from the start (not certain about the smaller shunting locos). I think the same applied to the DMUs; I assume it was realised that with the engine(s) and fuel underneath occupied carriages it was sensible to control the early stages of a fire to enable the train to be evacuated. (Unfortunately I can't find my book on the early DMUs to see for certain.)
Interesting thread - occurs to me to wonder if the pioneering diesel units (eg GWR railcars) had such systems, or if it 1st came about on the 1st generation DMUs - eg from the 1950s?

General link in case the OP unaware of these early units:
 

John Webb

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Interesting thread - occurs to me to wonder if the pioneering diesel units (eg GWR railcars) had such systems, or if it 1st came about on the 1st generation DMUs - eg from the 1950s?

General link in case the OP unaware of these early units:
I'd forgotten the GWR railcars. I'm not certain, but I think it unlikely. I think it was BR's 1st generation DMUs that were first fitted with extinguishing systems. Reference 4 in the Wikipedia article you linked to would probably tell us!
 
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