Aircraft hangars, the bustling hubs of aviation activity, are vital components of any airport infrastructure. These vast structures house not only aircraft but also valuable equipment, fuel and personnel. With great assets comes great risk, particularly the threat of fire. The combustible materials present in hangars, combined with the potential for fuel leaks or electrical faults, create an environment where fires can escalate rapidly, posing significant danger to both property and lives. Therefore, ensuring effective fire suppression systems in aircraft hangars is paramount to safeguard against such risks.

What are the risks?

Before delving into fire suppression measures, it’s essential to comprehend the unique risks associated with aircraft hangars. These structures often contain a variety of flammable materials, including aviation fuel, lubricants and hydraulic fluids. Moreover, the presence of aircraft, with their complex electrical systems, further increases the likelihood of fire incidents. Additionally, the sheer size of hangars presents challenges for firefighting efforts, requiring specialised equipment and strategies to mitigate risks effectively.

The importance of rapid response

In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. Rapid response is crucial to prevent the fire from spreading uncontrollably and causing extensive damage. Fire suppression systems must be designed to detect and extinguish fires swiftly, minimising potential loss. Delayed response times can have catastrophic consequences, underscoring the need for proactive measures to ensure swift action.

Key components for the effectiveness of fire suppression systems in aircraft hangars

Specialised suppression agents: Traditional water based sprinkler systems may not be suitable for aircraft hangars due to the major risk being a flammable fire. Fire fighting foam is highly effective in quickly extinguishing a fire by creating a blanket over it. This blanket helps to cool the fuel surface and prevents reignition by suppressing the release of flammable vapours.

This ability to quickly suppress the fire also minimises damage to aircraft, equipment, and infrastructure within the hangar. This not only preserves valuable assets but also reduces downtime and financial losses associated with fire-related disruptions.

In addition, life safety is dramatically increased for maintenance personnel and office staff with the fire being contained and controlled from spreading.

Strategic placement of equipment: Proper placement of fire suppression equipment, including foam monitors, Hi Ex foam generators, sprinklers, etc, is critical to ensuring comprehensive coverage of the hangar space. Strategic positioning enables firefighters to access necessary resources promptly, facilitating a swift response to emergencies.  The type and placement of the detection system also need to be considered to ensure there are no delays in the activation of the suppression system.

The type of foam required needs to be determined to ensure it is suitable for the product it will be exposed to and the appropriate discharge device is being used to maximise the foam’s capability.

Regular maintenance and training: Fire suppression systems must undergo regular maintenance and testing to ensure their reliability. Additionally, personnel should receive comprehensive training in fire safety protocols and the operation of suppression equipment. Well trained staff can effectively respond to emergencies, minimising the potential for injury or loss.

Fire suppression in aircraft hangars is a multifaceted endeavour that requires careful planning, specialised equipment and regular maintenance. By implementing robust detection and suppression systems and proactive training and maintenance protocols, airports can mitigate the risks associated with hangar fires and safeguard both property and lives. Rapid response capabilities are paramount in addressing fire incidents swiftly, underscoring the importance of investing in effective fire suppression measures. By prioritising fire safety, airports can ensure the continued operation of their facilities while maintaining the highest standards of protection for personnel and assets alike.

Delta Fire specialises in the fire protection of high risk, high hazard environments such as airports and industrial sites. Contact us for more details.

Also read: Save lives and money by doing a fire risk assessment

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