Luis Gerardo González
Director General
Fire Service Plus Mexico (FSPM)
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View from the Top

Putting out Fires Saving Industry

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 22:17

Q: What unique products can FSPM offer its clients within the industrial segment?

A: Fire has four main components, oxygen, heat, fuel and free radicals. Eliminating any of the first three means eradicating the fire. While most extinguishing agents attack only one or two, our products target all four. FireAde transforms water into foam multiplying its volume 20 times and giving it an ecological edge over competitors as it helps to reduce water consumption and pollution. 3M was the first company to develop aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), more commonly known as light water, which is the basis for our technology. These early foams contained persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that were eradicated from European industry in 2010. They were finally banned in Mexico in 2015 but the authorities have not completely enforced their substitution. Our products, however, are certified under the NOM 002-STPS-2010, and are nonpolluting agents without perfluorooctanoic acid or perfluorooctane sulfonate.

Our entire Enforcer line works with FireAde including our extinguishers of up to 12 liters, our tanks such as the Enforcer 10 and the Enforcer 200, as well as our automatic spraying spheres. When tackling fire, response time is crucial and we have worked hard to provide effective and user friendly products. As an example, we are developing small off-road vehicles, or first response units, that can be operated by only one person where a fire truck cannot be deployed.

Q: How has FSPM helped improve Mexican regulations in the industry?

A: We have lobbied for stricter regulations in the industry and have even fought for the implementation of an official norm in terms of private extinguishing equipment. With regard to the automotive industry, we have askedf the government to establish clear norms regarding fire extinguishers in all vehicles, especially in the public transportation and the logistics segment.

The current Mexican norms have been in force for a long time and are only reviewed every five years without taking technology developments into account. For that reason, we have reached out to SEMARNAT, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health to collaborate in regulation updates. We are working with Volkswagen and we will probably be equipping the new Audi plant in San Jose Chiapa, Puebla.

Q: How does FSPM help its clients to develop their fire extinguishing infrastructure?

A: We have a design and risk analysis team that collaborates on the development of our clients’ infrastructure, following international regulations. We follow comes the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard and mainly work according to NFPA 11 regarding low, medium and high-expansion foam. In Mexico, there are certain reference norms like NRF-116 PEMEX-2007 and PEMEX-2010 and we are the only company that complies with addendum 12.1 of this particular standard. This requires our products to extinguish a fire in a PEMEX tank model within 3 minutes. Ours do it in only 1 minute and 17 seconds.

Q: How corrosive are FSPM’s chemicals on machinery and manufacturing equipment?

A: FireAde has a neutral pH of 7.2 and its wetting agent helps protect the equipment from any potential damage. If someone were to ingest it or if it were to splash in someone’s eyes, they would not be harmed. We even have a letter from Boeing that recommends AFFF products instead of chemical powder for any accident involving their aircraft. Chemical powder is an effective extinguishing agent, but its corrosiveness could result in the overhaul of the entire plane.

To work with Volkswagen, we underwent several testing processes, particularly related to metals that react aggressively with water. Their supplier Rassini had a metallic paint that reacted with the humidity in the air, igniting the filters behind the brakes. After applying our product the company managed to counter that effect. We have been working with the Volkswagen Group for four years and recently started operations with Irizar in Queretaro.

We are also approaching Mazda and negotiating with Honda and Nissan. There are some challenges in the commercialization of our product given its advanced technology and the initial payment but this has to be seen as an investment rather than a cost.

Q: How much participation has FSPM had in the development of new products and solutions?

A: Since we started innovating approximately five years ago, all our new products have had a huge impact on the industry. Having developed purchase and rental programs, many companies that rent industrial facilities in Mexico have opted for our rental solutions as the best alternative. Our innovations are diverse. Administratively, we have created software to track the extinguisher stock of our clients throughout their production or distribution chain.

Regarding technology, we designed several compressing systems and are working on a firefighter drone in collaboration with IPN. This project is being developed with heat detection features based on artificial vision creating a constantly prepped security system. In terms of vehicles, there are certain off-road models that catch fire easily so we are working on a portable first response unit to handle the situation. These are highly sophisticated add-ons so we are working to lower our production costs to offer better prices to our clients.

Q: How have you educated operators and private users to promote a safety-oriented culture?

A: We teach the basics of fire theory and offer practical courses with digital equipment and laser extinguishers. These courses grade users according to their level of expertise and they are designed to train people on fires type A, B, C, D and K. We are trying to target different industry segments to involve people of all ages in this process. Similarly, we hope to implement a norm stating that all handicapped and elderly people should be located as close to the exit as possible in any public setting. This serves as a precaution in case of an accident. Prevention will always be cheaper than any corrective action and our gloabl offices have worked hard to promote this mindset. Furthermore, alongside the Ronnie Thames Foundation, the company has the goal of helping children that have been severely burned. The organization already does an amazing job in the US and we are now looking to establish it in Mexico in 2017.