Simplifying Fire Prevention

Every machining facility should have a plan in place for fire prevention. An automatic fire suppression system installed on a machine can be the solution.  


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This video shows a typical Firetrace fire protection installation on a CNC machine.

Every machining facility should have a plan in place for fire prevention. Fires occurring in machines running oil-based coolant can cause significant damage in seconds. Even in the presence of operators, machines have been completely destroyed. In lights-out operations, a fire can continue to grow, potentially damaging other machines, mist collection systems, or even the entire building.

A Firetrace automatic fire suppression system installed on a machine can help alleviate much of this danger. A system such as this installed on a CNC machine allows quick fire detection and suppression, often preventing any damage to the machine.

The red Firetrace detection tubing (FDT) is at the heart of the system. By routing the tubing throughout the machine, the system can detect a fire at its source, no matter where it starts. Proper placement of this tubing reduces activation time and potential for damage. Tests have shown that under normal circumstances, FDT detects a fire 10 times faster than traditional methods.

Upon detection of a fire, the system can discharge a fire-suppressing agent in as little as four seconds. In most machine applications, either Dupont FM-200 or CO2 is the preferred agent. Both of these are clean agents and will leave no residue nor will they contaminate the coolant in the event of a discharge. Firetrace CNC machine fire protection systems can work with a variety of other agents as well for specialized applications and materials such as titanium.

At this time, Firetrace systems are installed on more than 7,500 machines worldwide, and company officials report that at least one incident is reported each week involving a machine that is saved from significant damage. In these incidents, operators frequently report that the system reacts so quickly that the machine is undamaged by the fire. Because of the clean agent fire suppressants that do not contaminate the oil, once the issue that caused the fire is corrected, the machine can be restored to operation with no cleanup necessary.

The Firetrace fire suppression systems aren’t only for use inside the machine tool, but are commonly used throughout the shop floor, in areas such as cleaning tanks, computers, dust and mist collectors, and electrical control cabinets. In fact, their use has spread to a number of other industries, including farming, transportation and heavy duty trucking, and military. One interesting application that has proven particularly effective is use in wind turbines.

Wind turbines manufactured today incorporate the highest quality and safety standards, but the potential for a fire always exists when electronics, flammable oils and hydraulic fluids exist in the same enclosure. Electrical fires can also result from both shorts in equipment and surges due to lightning strikes. Additionally, secondary wind-driven brush fires originating from wind turbine fires can result in significant additional damage.

Given the remote nature of the turbines (mounted over 100 feet in the air or offshore), little can be done from a traditional fire-fighting perspective. A fire suppression system installed in the nacelle provides a solution to saving these multi-million-dollar units. The Firetrace systems are a natural fit for this application, overcoming many of the issues faced by traditional flooding suppressions systems. They require no electricity or external power and activate automatically, without the need for manual activation or monitoring. Also, they can be mounted unobtrusively so that maintenance activities in the turbines’ tight spaces are not affected.

Firetrace can now offer cost-effective systems to protect a single turbine or an entire farm. And the same principles apply to the shop floor. These systems can prevent thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in fire damage. Fire prevention is an integral part of a disaster plan, and the Firetrace system provides a different approach that can keep a shop going.

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