Structured Approach to Fire Damage Assessment Reduces Costs - Part 2 of 2
Read Structured Approach to Fire Damage Assessment Reduces Costs - Part 1 of 2
By Vince Carucci
The first article in this series described the general approach to fire damage assessment contained in API RP 579 and identified the importance of assigning appropriate Heat Exposure Zones to the portions of the unit that were involved in the fire. This article provides “helpful tips” for performing a fire damage assessment based on our experience.
- Define the objective of the fire damage assessment team. This group is not necessarily also doing the fire investigation and will not do all the required follow-up inspections.
- Include the correct engineering specialists on the team. The team should always have both a mechanical and materials engineer. A civil engineer is also helpful if there is concern about the condition of foundations or structural support of major equipment.
- The assessment team must get into the unit early, preferably before anything significant has been disturbed. Cleanup and demolition could move or destroy important clues that are needed to establish the Heat Exposure Zones.
- Schedule sufficient time for the initial damage assessment. A typical complete damage assessment for a major process unit fire will take 1-2 weeks of elapsed time. Follow-up inspections and possibly engineering evaluations identified by the team will extend beyond this initial period.
- Organize local support, primarily the interface with local inspection personnel.
- Identify “big ticket,” long delivery time items and evaluate them first. Any needed follow-up inspection on these can begin while the team moves on to "map" the overall Heat Exposure Zones of the unit.
- Identify the Heat Exposure Zones for the equipment first. Then, go back to establish the complete zone boundaries within the unit.
- Color-code the Heat Exposure Zones on plot plan and elevation layout drawings of the unit.
- Keep local management informed of the team's progress in a timely manner so that they can make reconstruction and purchase decisions as soon as possible.
- Take careful notes of the visual condition of each equipment item when first seen.
- Take photos to document the equipment condition and key fire damage indicators.
- Don't forget the potential impact of the fire on equipment and areas that are outside of the immediate fire zone. For example, excessive pipe thermal expansion may have caused damage to pipe or structure outside of the immediate area of the fire.
- Do not be overly concerned about performing detailed engineering and metallurgical evaluations of apparently damaged equipment during the initial damage assessment. This can become a distraction and delay completing the overall unit assessment. Additional evaluations should be done as a parallel or follow-up activity on items where it is worthwhile. The condition and appropriate actions to take will be obvious for most items after the initial visual inspection and any inspection follow-up that is done.
We hope these tips help if you are faced with having to do a fire damage assessment.