Re: Fire guides? Be rigorous when human lives are involved.

Subject: Re: Fire guides? Be rigorous when human lives are involved.
From: Alan Miller <alan -dot- miller -at- EDUCATE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 14:20:59 -0500

Geoff Hart's advice is, in general, on the mark. Because hard, engineered systems are fundamentally different from hardware/software systems, your approach to the document structure will be significantly different. A structure I have had success with for industrial and power plant system manuals is:

System Function and Design Requirements:
States the system's raison d'etre and what the underlying design specifications are. Includes statements like: "The function of the VeryTall Building fire protection system is to detect and extinguish any Class A, B, C or D fires in the ...<blah><blah>." And "The VeryTall Building fire protection system meets NFPA Code Section X.X."

System Flowpaths/Circuits:
This is a general overview of the entire system. Here you describe the water, cardox, halon, electrical power etc. gets from source to end use in the system, and all components encountered along the way. An example: "City water enters the fire water system 16" supply header through a non-return valve and manual isolation valve. Two fire booster pumps take their suction from the supply header and discharge into the building fire main."

Detailed Component Descriptions:
For each individual component you should include a function, detailed physical description, how the component works, where it gets its power, and what, if any, internal (i.e. contained) controls it uses. Include any nameplate data. Example: "The function of the two fire booster pumps is to raise the City Water system pressure from a nominal 100 psig to the 150 psig required for proper operation of the fire protection system. Each pump is a single stage centrifugal pump manufactured by Aurora Manufacturing Co...."

Instrumentation and Controls:
Explain here how the operator acquires system parameter data and controls its components. Describe the system control logic (a lot easier said than done!), i.e., how control signals are generated, transferred and used. ("The ultra-violet flame detector, in the presence of an oil fire, generates a null signal that deenergizes the deluge valve control solenoid. This opens the pressure release valve on the deluge valve body. A decrease in air pressure allows the Deluge valve flapper to reposition...")

System Operation:
Describe how the operator starts the system, shuts down the system, responds to system alarms and abnormal operating conditions, and any routine operations (such as transferring from pump A running and pump B in standby to the opposite). This should be both as a narrative overview followed by a detailed step-by-step procedure for each operation.

System Maintenance and Inspections:
This section should include all routine maintenance and inspections required by the equipment manufacturers and regulatory bodies (NFPA, local fire codes, etc.). Major maintenance operations (pump overhaul, circuit breaker replacement, etc.) should not be covered here. These procedures are typically contracted out and covered by procedures approved at the time the contract is negotiated.

Trouble-shooting Guide:
This is where you will describe what to do when unexpected and bad things happen. These are related to the alarms described under the Instrumentation and Controls topic.

List all the references you used to develop the manual. These can include:
* Fire Protection drawings (blueprints) - these are the approved (and signed by a licensed engineer) prints used to design and build the system.
* Equipment manufacturers' O&M (Operations and Maintenance) Manuals - if you are lucky, the contract for the installation of the system specified that these be provided to the purchaser. If not, you can generally contact the manufacturer for a copy (though, sometimes for a price).
* National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes - if your employer/client is installing a fire system, their engineering department should have a copy you can borrow.
* Local Fire Code - check with your local fire department or Fire Marshall.

I know this looks like a lot, and it is. I've tried to condense what I usually cover in a week of instruction. Hope it helps.

Al Miller
Sylvan Prometric
alan -dot- miller -at- educate -dot- com

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