Con Edison of New York adopts a proactive approach to fire safety for its own facilities and for responses to fires involving energy-delivery systems that may have an impact on public safety. A comprehensive regimen of fire/life-safety assessments is conducted at facilities occupied by different operating groups throughout the company. Facilities personnel participate with visiting fire/life-safety professionals to discuss any issues assessments reveal, and to collaborate on plans for lowering fire risk and strengthening compliance with applicable fire and building codes.
In addition, the company has collaboratively developed innovative fire-fighting techniques, including methodology for using water to fight fires on live electrical equipment.
During 2012, another innovation was introduced that is particularly effective when suppressing fire in manholes or other enclosed structures. It involves the use of a new fire suppression agent called FireIce that is added to a hose stream in correct proportions and applied to faulting equipment. The additive helps extinguish flames quickly and dramatically cools burning equipment much more effectively than water alone. This speeds putting out fires and reduces the risk of hot equipment reigniting. With manhole events, there is the possibility that superheated combustion gases and flames may move to adjacent manholes through connecting ducts. The FireIce additive can also be used to douse nearby structures to lower the likelihood of ignition originating from the initial fire and degradation to the grid.
A team of Con Edison employees reached out to the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Research and Development group on an initiative to test the feasibility of the new extinguishing agent. Con Edison performed a demonstration of the FireIce product and commissioned a pilot program in Brooklyn for underground vault and manhole fires. The use of this product will minimize the smoke and other combustion by-products released, limit the potential exposure for firefighters, company employees, and the public, and reduce collateral damage to the electrical system. In 2013, this firefighting technique will be made available more widely for underground vault and manhole fires.
“I want people to be safe in their workplace and know what to do in an emergency.”Tom Tropea Tom joined Con Edison after 25 years with the New York City Fire Department, where he retired as a captain. Today, he leads the company’s fire-safety program which protects 15,000 employees and nearly 90 facilities.