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jlucas

Fire system age rule

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I searched and did not find anything so forgive me if this has been discussed.  I just sent this to the board.

 

Mike (& all),

I'm all for increased safety but I can't but be appalled new "service life" requirement for fire systems.
"Systems shall have a maximum field service life of 6 years (SFI) or 10 years (FIA) from the original date of installation."
 
What evidence is this based on?  I've been racing for 20 years and I have never see a fire system issue due to age if the bottles have been serviced.  BY FAR the issues are with poor installation or lack of driver familiarity with how to properly engage the system. 
 
Please help me understand how this type of 6 year limitation can be justified!
 
 
Anyone else think 6 years is a ridiculous rule?
Jeremy
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From a practical sense, the bottle is the sfi approved part of the system (only thing with a tag). Keeping that up to date should pass the only method tech has of enforcement, looking at the tag.

 

The refiller will stop recertification of bottles after a certain age, as the hydro test makes it less economically feasible. Depending on sale price it might be just as cheap to get the whole system at that point, in particular if you use the plastic tube type. 

 

For you own safety make sure the nozzle size and count matches the bottle. I am contemplating using an old out of spec system as an engine only "backup" suppression system that could be used to put out an engine fire without popping the main fire system (and spraying you inside the cab).   

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You make a good point!  I had a brand new 4l bottle in my car at Charlotte.  I had 4 or 5 nozzles (whatever the kit came with).  When I pulled the handle, it kinda oozed out.  It definitely did NOT spray like I thought it should.  

 

I think I had too many nozzles.   Gonna use less and place them better for this build.

 

Which way do you think 6 years is ridiculous?  Too long or not long enough?

Edited by wvumtnbkr

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38 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

Which way do you think 6 years is ridiculous?  Too long or not long enough?

The bottle doesn't really wear out, certainly not in 6 years.  You already have to get it refilled/certified every 2 years.  Now they want you to replace it after 6 if I'm understanding it correctly.

Edited by jlucas

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When I got my bottle recertified, the sticker just stated when it was recertified.  I don't think you could tell the year of manufacture anyway.

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10 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

When I got my bottle recertified, the sticker just stated when it was recertified.  I don't think you could tell the year of manufacture anyway.

Year of manufacture is stamped on the bottle.

 

So if your fire bottle was FIA certified would you be complaining about the 10 year service life as well?

 

As was explained to me. SFI is a lesser standard than FIA. Most of the time the extra money you pay for FIA is well worth it in the end if you compare the two.  ChampCar isn't coming up with these year requirements on end of life. The certifying agencies are.

https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/group.asp?GroupID=FIREREFILL

https://www.sfifoundation.com/wp-content/pdfs/specs/Spec_17.1_022614.pdf

 

SFi doc explains in 2.7

Edited by jakks
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How would anyone know when the system is installed when the only part with a date on it is the bottle?   Keep your bottle up to date and you won't have anything to worry about.  

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52 minutes ago, jakks said:

Year of manufacture is stamped on the bottle.

 

So if your fire bottle was FIA certified would you be complaining about the 10 year service life as well?

 

As was explained to me. SFI is a lesser standard than FIA. Most of the time the extra money you pay for FIA is well worth it in the end if you compare the two.  ChampCar isn't coming up with these year requirements on end of life. The certifying agencies are.

https://www.pegasusautoracing.com/group.asp?GroupID=FIREREFILL

https://www.sfifoundation.com/wp-content/pdfs/specs/Spec_17.1_022614.pdf

 

SFi doc explains in 2.7

Good point about fia.   Mine is fia.  To be clear, I wasn't complaining.  I was curious.

 

I just looked at my bottle.  It has a sticker (that gets replaced) that says date of manufacture as 4/2019.  The bottle is also stamped....  10/2018.  Hmmm.

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3 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

Good point about fia.   Mine is fia.  To be clear, I wasn't complaining.  I was curious.

 

I just looked at my bottle.  It has a sticker (that gets replaced) that says date of manufacture as 4/2019.  The bottle is also stamped....  10/2018.  Hmmm.

Sorry, I should have quoted OP or just said, "OP, if your fire bottle was FIA certified would you be complaining about the 10 year service life as well?"

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Mike's reply:

This rule was written and published in September of 2018.  So there was a 15 month notice.

 

For reasons one needs to look no further than your local attorney.  The bottle manufacturers state the service life of their equipment.  It is by all beliefs quite low, but once they make that rating we either follow it or risk a lawsuit on a freak accident.  Much like seat belts and helmets, we are in no position to handle a lawsuit over an accident with a fire bottle, so we all agreed to follow the fire system manufacturers recommendations.

 

Mike

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SCCA and NASA do not enforce bottle "life".
My bottle is also FIA and whenever possible I always will go with the FIA gear option over the SFI. 

 

Once again SFI is more about some ridiculous lower common denominator and selling more product. 

 

(FIA seems to be all about the $$$ if you have ever had to deal with them, for example just a base license is $225!)

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Safety gear is one area that I feel is always worth the extra money and effort.  I too hate to just replace equipment that appears to be in perfectly good condition just because of an artificial time line.  But having witnessed first hand fire systems that didn't work.  I dont feel changing/ recertifying the bottle every few years is some outrageous requirement.  I will venture to guess all sanctioning groups will adopt a similarrule sooner than later.  There is no way to periodically test these systems so replacement/recertify is the best option. 

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As a car builder, it's just another number added to the cost of racing.

 It sucks. But, having to replace out of date perfectly good belts, seats, nets, and fuel cells is just part of Racing.

 

And having seen fire systems that failed to work at ChampCar events, I work say it's a good idea 

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21 hours ago, Snake said:

How would anyone know when the system is installed when the only part with a date on it is the bottle?   Keep your bottle up to date and you won't have anything to worry about.  

Snake.  I have a bran new, never installed bottle as a spare for me or if a competitor needed it for a weekend to borrow just in case.  Bran new in the box.  I brought it to tech in Sebring and he said it just expired. I wS like it has never been used and bran new in the box.  He did not care.  I was like no way.  So not I have to spend like $100 for them to put a new sticker on it.  

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5 hours ago, Bill Strong said:

As a car builder, it's just another number added to the cost of racing.

 It sucks. But, having to replace out of date perfectly good belts, seats, nets, and fuel cells is just part of Racing.

 

And having seen fire systems that failed to work at ChampCar events, I work say it's a good idea 

Bill. Assuming this was my system. Please stop quoting my fire system failure as the be all end all to things like this.  Mine failed due to the cable and the routing of the cable, which I have fixed.  The real issue is you do not know that would fail because it is not like you can test the cable under full pressure it needs when pulled.  Mine slid back and forth. When I tried to pull hard on it it linked the cable due to the angle and did not work.  Fixed now and people should know that and why so they can address it themselves.  My bottle and system worked as it should except for the cable.   

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My tank has a label with a table of information and every box in the table is empty that is supposed to have a date, capacity, part/serial number etc... It was in the car when I bought it so I have no idea of it's history

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18 hours ago, MR2 Biohazard said:

Bill. Assuming this was my system. Please stop quoting my fire system failure as the be all end all to things like this.  Mine failed due to the cable and the routing of the cable, which I have fixed.  The real issue is you do not know that would fail because it is not like you can test the cable under full pressure it needs when pulled.  Mine slid back and forth. When I tried to pull hard on it it linked the cable due to the angle and did not work.  Fixed now and people should know that and why so they can address it themselves.  My bottle and system worked as it should except for the cable.   

 

This was not you. I was not at that event if you remember.

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I would imagine most (if not nearly all) incidents with suppression systems are installation or equipment error outside the extinguisher, unless it lost pressure which obviously is easy to inspect.

NFPA requires only testing/recharging portable dry chemical extinguishers every 12 years and they can be re-used for a very long time if they pass the test and check out visually. NFPA governs the fire fighting industry. 

I don't necessary blame Champcar as they are following SFI/FIA standards but as with many safety items the requirements in racing are excessive and it seems to me there's no need to comply strictly with SFI/FIA as just a few years ago we didn't even need these things.

Edited by Slugworks Paul

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9 hours ago, Slugworks Paul said:

I don't necessary blame Champcar as they are following SFI/FIA standards but as with many safety items the requirements in racing are excessive and it seems to me there's no need to comply strictly with SFI/FIA as just a few years ago we didn't even need these things. Maybe it has to do with some of our series sponsors?

 

Maybe it has to do with the SFI and the FIA? Read below. I also included links to the SFI and FIA documentation. Being an engineer, I figured you would like to see facts.

 

Service Due Date and Recertification

SFI and FIA both require the bottles to be recertified every 2 years. The recertification must be performed by the manufacturer or their authorized representative. This can take a few days (plus travel time back and forth). It is important to plan for this downtime and to incorporate it into your racing schedule.

Bottles that are past their mandatory service date cannot be recertified or refilled. This doesn't mean that a bottle that expires on Monday has to be discarded on Tuesday, but it does mean that if you ignore the mandatory recertification schedule, we can't help you.

Total service life from the date of installation is currently limited to 6 years for SFI systems and 10 years for FIA systems (assuming timely recertifications). When the bottle reaches the end of its service life, you will need to buy a replacement bottle.

SPA requires the same 2-year service interval / 10-year life span for their non-certified systems as for their FIA systems.
 

 

SFI 17-1  -  https://www.sfifoundation.com/wp-content/pdfs/specs/Spec_17.1_042018.pdf

On-Board Fire Suppression Systems shall be inspected for recertification at least every two years after the date of original certification or as specified by the certifying manufacturer. When a unit is determined to be acceptable for continued service, a new conformance label marked with the inspection date shall be used. In-field recertification is permitted, but ONLY by the original manufacturer or its authorized agent. Mailing of certification labels to customers is strictly prohibited. Systems shall have a maximum field service life of 6 years from the original date of installation. At the end of the 6-year period, all systems must be returned to the manufacturer or a certified recycling service center for lawful disassembly, recycling and decommissioning. No system may be refilled more than 6 times during its 6- year field service life.

 

FIA STANDARD FIA 8865-2015https://www.fia.com/file/78435/download/9191 

 

9. VALIDITY The extinguisher system shall be serviced every two years. For example, an extinguisher system manufactured on 1 January 2014 will be "Not valid after January 2016". Whenever the extinguisher system is serviced in accordance with Article 10, the manufacturer or their official must replace the maintenance label with a new one. 10. MAINTENANCE Extinguisher system contents shall be replaced.
Body shall be examined for signs of corrosion, abrasion and paint finish. Should the maintenance engineer decide that the body has been subject to corrosion or exhibits abrasions that may affect performance, the body shall be discarded. Extinguisher systems with poor paint finish should be refurbished. The interior of the body must also be inspected for signs of damage or corrosion. All seals should be replaced. The operating head should be cleaned and tested and repaired or replaced as necessary. Nozzles should be checked for damage/possible blockage/corrosion. They shall be tested to ensure that they are in good working order. A new marking as shown in Figure 4 shall be put in place.
Figure 4
Screen Shot 2020-01-14 at 8.54.40 AM.png

 

 

 

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