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Explosion Protection Ahoy Ex-Zones! Explosion Protection Equipments Sets Sails for Hazardous Waters

Editor: Dominik Stephan

A fire fighting vessel in the heart of Europe's industrial and chemical clusters needs special equipment: Equipped with specialised technology, Europe’s latest high-tech fire-fighting boat is able to work in hazardous atmospheres, fighting fires, explosions and chemical accidents. Its secret? Explosion-protected electrical equipment and lighting by technology specialists Eaton.

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The Fireboat ‘Metropolregion’ in the port of Mannheim
The Fireboat ‘Metropolregion’ in the port of Mannheim
(Picture: Eaton)

The Mannheimer Fire Department’s ‘Metropolregion’ firefighting boat is one of the most modern, well-equipped firefighting boats in Europe. Approved for driving on tanker ports 23 metres long and up to 40 km/h, this high-speed firefighting boat was put into service by the Mannheim fire department.

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On the boat, mixed teams made up of members of the Mannheim and Ludwigshafen fire brigades and the BASF plant’s fire brigade can be called into action. The boat covers a very wide area of the Rhine, from Germersheim to Worms, the Neckar all the way to the Neckargmünd lock.

The Latest High Performance Boat Technology

As well as being equipped with the very latest ship technology such as dual jet propulsion, bow thruster, radar, combination steering gear and surveillance technology, the ‘Metropolregion’ also has three high-performance fire service pumps, a foam mixer extinguisher, a bow monitor foam water cannon, a rear view monitor hollow and spray nozzle, 2-off 7-part hose connections for delivering water to landside-based firefighters. Power is supplied by two MAN V12 1100hp Common Rail diesel engines with permanent preheating in order to ensure there are no engine start-up delays.

The electrical equipment on the boat must withstand the harshest of conditions, including the release of chemicals, flammables and explosive substances, or oil spills. With the constant risk of an explosive atmosphere, the safety of the crew and fire-fighting teams must be respected at all times. Therefore, the boat’s design and operation is consistently based on a comprehensive explosion-protection concept. The core concept is based on the pressurisation of interior spaces on the boat, which draws fresh air from an aspiration port located 5.5 metres above the water surface level.

The equipment room in the bow of the boat is designed as a lock. A gas detection system, which comprises of four sensors mounted at different heights, detects the presence of an explosive atmosphere and automatically switches to explosion-proof equipment. This means that equipment that is not explosion-protected is turned off in the equipment room an in outdoor areas and only the ATEX 94/9/EC certified electrical equipment and lighting for use in Zone 1 and Zone 2 hazardous areas are in operation.

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