A Few Words About Bernie Bishchoff – From some of those who knew him best

November 29, 2016

I was fortunate early in my career to work with very talented fire protection experts, Vic Williamson, Fred Roberts, Bruce Scheiman and Bernie Bischoff. Bernie was the consummate professional, well respected, very friendly and a great travel companion. My first ever business trip was with Bernie. He and I went to DC to conduct a presentation to naval architects, engineers, the USN and USCG. I was terrified, but quickly realized no one in the audience knew more about fire protection than Bernie, which eased my mind and made life good. I learned a lot from Bernie, a lot of others did too, we should all be thankful for that opportunity. Rest in peace Bernie, we will miss you.

John Trinajstch — UTAS/UTC


Throughout the 35 plus years of our friendship, Bernie Bischoff (BGB) gave me, my wife Karen our colleagues and friends the great gift of being part of our professional and personal lives. His vast knowledge of life and our unique industry was given freely and above all without prejudice or pretentiousness. These attributes were combined with a great sense of humor. Bernie’s daughter Shirley called shortly after his death; she said his final passage was reminiscent of the many journeys he had taken throughout his life. Fond memories of Bernie will remain with us forever.

Fred Hildebrandt – Janus


I believe the year was 1994 when the NFPA Conference and Expo was held in San Francisco. Who isn’t anxious to return home after a business trip? However, because I was new to the special hazards side of the industry Bernie stayed over the weekend with me and sketched out and explained numerous types of special hazards and their protection options. The next week we made sales calls in the Bay Area and he gave me the fine points of what to (or not to) say. Our calls included PG&E’s headquarters and one of their powerplants about an hour outside of San Francisco. I still have a vivid memory of Bernie climbing onto the equipment to check the size of the selector valve and the PG&E guy almost having a heart attack. God broke the mold when he made Bernie: he was the absolute best.

Don Fletcher – Chemetron Retired


I worked with and for Bernie for 30+ years. He was without a doubt the most highly respected and well known individual in our industry. He was a mentor to many and a Friend to All!

I met my wonderful wife Rene when Bernie hired her in the Marketing Department.

It seems that Bernie knew everyone associated with Fire Protection for wherever you went his name would be mentioned. He was best known for his expertise in High + Low Pressure CO2. In fact he wrote the LPCO2 Bible!

His career started in the early 50’s with Cardox and experienced six acquisitions to the present UTC.

A Funny Story…

He was noted for spilling food on his ties during a meal. It was his Birthday and we thought of a good funny gift. Rene and I went to the Salvation Army and found 3-4 ties that had stains on them. We wrapped them with a note that said “They are pre-stained” to save you the time and effort to stain new ones! Bernie laughed and laughed and always mentioned it each time I saw him over the years.

Distinguishing Characteristics…

Another memory was that Bernie had incredible knowledge of everything and never really got mad or frustrated, or talked in vain about anyone. It was an absolute honor to have known Bernie and I will always remember him as a ‘person of distinction’.

Deke MacPherson – Chemetron (Retired)

FSSA Mourns the Loss of Bernie Bischoff

November 18, 2016



FSSA regrets to inform you of the passing of Bernard (Bernie) Grove Bischoff, 91, on Tuesday, October 25, 2016. He was the beloved husband of Barbara (Miller). Bernie is survived by three children: Alvin, Shirley (Skiviat), and William; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. He was the son of the late Alvin and Ethel Bischoff, of Madison, Wisconsin.

He was a United States Marine Captain who honorably served in WWII and Korea.

Bernie was a Founding Member of the Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA), and served as the organization’s first president. He received the inaugural FSSA Leadership Award in 2008 for his contributions to the special hazards fire protection industry through his dedication in and longevity to the industry, a sense of integrity and fairness, business acumen, a fostering learning, innovation and change, and a cooperative spirit. In many circles, he was affectionately known as “Father Suppression” because of his fervent advocation for the fire suppression industry.

He served on several FSSA Committees and participated in many activities. Bernie represented FSSA on several National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committees including Carbon Dioxide, Gas Turbine Engines, Hydroelectric Generating Plants, and Electronic Computer Systems.

Bischoff, as a representative of Chemetron Fire Systems, served two terms as President of the Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA). He also served on the Board of Directors for the National Automatic Sprinkler and Fire Control Association (NAS&FCA), that later became the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA).

He was also active in the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SPFE), and in 2004, received the Joseph B. Finnegan Award, named in honor of the long-time head of the fire protection engineering curriculum at Armour Institute and Illinois Institute of Technology, presented to a person in the Chicago metropolitan area in recognition of outstanding contributions or long devoted service to the field of fire protection engineering.

A Private Service will be held in Madison, WI.

Funeral arrangements by Beinhauer Family Services, 412-531-4000. Expressions of sympathy and tributes can be made at www.beinhauer.com.

The Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA) Educational Foundation has established a new memorial scholarship honoring Bernie Bischoff. Contributions can be made directly to the FSSA Education Foundation in his name. Contributions should be sent to: Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA), 3601 East Joppa Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21234; 410-931-8100.

Wind Turbine Fires – Industry Searches for Solution

November 18, 2016
August's turbine fire at Isselburg, Germany, gradually consumes a blade

August’s turbine fire at Isselburg, Germany, gradually consumes a blade


By Christopher Hopson in London

On 28 August, firefighters were called to a wind turbine fire in Isselburg, northwest Germany, but upon arrival discovered they did not have equipment tall enough to put out the flames. They could only watch as the NEG Micon turbine was consumed and the burning blades fell to the ground.

A month earlier, a turbine fire in India became an internet sensation after video emerged showing a burning blade tip creating rapid spirals of black smoke. And in May, firefighters in Lubbock, Texas, watched helplessly as a turbine burned itself out, occasionally putting out small grass fires from falling debris.

When a wind turbine catches fire, it is almost always damaged beyond repair because it is so hard to extinguish. A fire and the knock-on downtime will cost a project owner an average of $4.5m per incident. It is a growing problem that costs the industry around $225m a year.

And it is not just money that is lost. In October 2013, a fire broke out inside a Vestas V66 in the Netherlands as four contractors carried out routine maintenance. Two escaped, but two — a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old — found themselves penned in by flames atop the nacelle. One jumped to his death to escape the inferno, the other’s burned body was later found atop the charred nacelle. Authorities are still investigating the incident.

“While the vast majority of renewable energy losses escape the attention of the international media, it seems that every few weeks a turbine fire makes the headlines,” says Jatin Sharma, head of business development at renewables insurer GCube.

“For owners, operators and insurers of wind farms, the thought of seeing a multi-million-dollar asset go up in flames is already a sobering one. For the incident to subsequently be broadcast around the world is the stuff of nightmares.”

According to GCube, there are roughly 50 turbine fires every year —one for every 6,000 machines — and the problem is growing and getting more expensive.

“The cost of fires is actually increasing compared to five years ago, mainly due to the arrival of larger turbines,” Sharma tells Recharge.

Vestas, for one, is taking the problem extremely seriously, treating fire prevention as a critical and integral part of its design and development process.

The world’s top turbine maker believes the wind industry would benefit from greater consistency in fire prevention standards — adopting a more unified approach with defined quality expectations being applied across the industry.

“We would like to see increasing collaboration among OEMs, developers, independent service providers and certification bodies within fire prevention,” a Vestas spokesman tells Recharge.

Sharma adds: “Faced with this increased scrutiny [from negative headlines] and the long-term financial impact of a total turbine loss, we need to address the causes and consequences of turbine fires and, as a community, recognise that it affects each company in the industry.

“We cannot allow a handful of torched assets to become a symbol of our inability to work together.”

Researcher Anne Dederichs at Sweden’s SP Technical Research Institute, says: “There is virtually no research in this area, and no rules or recommendations for fire safety design of wind turbines exists, which is surprising, given its importance.”

So what is causing these fires and can they be prevented?

“The way we look at turbines is that they are effectively a big electrical and mechanical system, so there are two main causes of fire within them,” says Philip Rodger, principal scientific adviser at Bureau Veritas UK, which investigates the cause of fires on behalf of project owners.

“What you find is that the primary causes are electrical faults and failures, due to having a big rotating system. Fires can be caused due to damage or degradation, or in some cases a failure of the lubrication system.”

Rodger says a significant number of fires are due to a combination of high-speed winds and a failure of the turbine’s braking system, resulting in the rotor spinning out of control and causing internal frictions that create sparks, which ignite lubrication oil, plastics or electrical wires.

After the nacelle, the second most likely place for a fire to occur is in the control cabinet at the base of the tower, which contains a large proportion of the electrical monitoring equipment.

Operating turbines in extreme temperatures, outside their normal design parameters, has also been recorded as being a significant contributor to fires. For instance, problems arise when narrow temperature thresholds are exceeded for cables, transformers, nacelle components and the control cabinet.

“The causes of fires are rarely down to inherent design faults,” says Sharma. “It is more usually some piece of equipment which has been changed or been adapted that causes an issue.”

Having said that, he adds: “In some cases you can associate turbine fires with a particular new model of turbine, or with a batch issue from a sub-supplier.

“There are categories of turbines we will not insure because that machine has had so many incidents.”

He reveals that GCube has actually sought legal advice as it knows of a couple of turbine models that are particularly prone to fires. “Unfortunately the industry is not ready to hear that because it is libellous, embarrassing, and of course dangerous,” he says.

While there are some “anecdotal examples” of turbine fires being more prevalent in older machines — the recent German fire was in a turbine commissioned in 2001 — “we don’t have enough research to demonstrate if that is true”, says Sharma.

Another concern is insufficient or incorrect maintenance checks.

Rodger, who believes developers are becoming more aware of the issues, says the industry needs to look at making improvements in its initial fire risk assessments, by identifying hazards and taking actions on specific warning signs.

“We have found those carrying out remote monitoring of turbines who have access to things like heat and temperature logs, particularly for mechanical and bearing systems, don’t always understand the signs that there could be a potential problem,” adds Rodger.

Sharma points to an increasing emphasis by asset managers on reducing the levelised cost of electricity by cutting O&M expenses as being a root cause of a growing number of incidents.

“We are looking at an ever smaller number of staff who can get to turbines once faults are detected. I understand the need to reduce industry costs, but it’s a question of just how thinly you can spread people across different wind sites.”

However, the industry is adamant that the highly emotive images of catastrophic fires paint a false picture of the seriousness of the issue. “In relative terms the number of fires in the wind industry is not that significant,” says Chris Streatfeild, RenewableUK’s director of health & safety.

“For instance, we have worked in the UK with [government agency] the Health & Safety Executive, and they have assessed our risk profile, which is certainly no more significant than any other industry, particularly compared to oil and gas, [as] we don’t have the hydrocarbon risk profile.

“As long as we are producing energy, there will be electrical and mechanical sources of ignition, so the risk will always be there.”

The original story can be read here: http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1185510/turbine-fires-a-burning-issue-for-the-industry.

Honeywell to Receive SNAP Approval for HFO-1233zd Fire Suppression Total Flooding Agent

September 30, 2016

Effective Date: [pending publication in the Federal Register]

Advanced Version Acceptability Determination 32 (signed September 28, 2016) (PDF 38 pp, 196 KB)
Fact Sheet

This action presents EPA’s most recent decision to list as acceptable several substitutes in the refrigeration and air conditioning and fire suppression sectors. New substitutes are:

  • R-448A in retail food refrigeration—food processing and dispensing equipment;
  • R-449A in retail food refrigeration—food processing and dispensing equipment;
  • R-449B in several refrigeration end-uses; and
  • trans-1-chloro-3,3,3,-trifluoroprop-1-ene in total flooding fire suppression uses.

The Director of the Office of Atmospheric Programs signed this notice on 9/28/16, and the Agency is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register (FR). While we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the document, it is not the official version. Please refer to the official version in a forthcoming FR publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office’s FDSys website (http://fdsys.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/home.action) and on Regulations.gov (www.regulations.gov) in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2003-0118. Once the official version of this document is published in the FR, this version will be removed from the Internet and replaced with a link to the official version.

To review publicly available docket materials electronically, visit www.regulations.gov and search for docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2003-0118. Supporting materials will be available in the Air and Radiation docket in hard copy once the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

EPA Issues Final SNAP rule – Approves 2-BTP for Aviation Streaming and Flooding

September 29, 2016



SNAP Action — On September 26, 2016, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the final rule Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: New Listings of Substitutes; Changes of Listing Status; and Reinterpretation of Unacceptability for Closed Cell Foam Products under the Significant New Alternatives Policy Program; and Revision of Clean Air Act Section 608’s Venting Prohibition for Propane. In support of the President’s Climate Action Plan, this rule under EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program expands the list of acceptable substitutes in the refrigeration and air conditioning (AC), and fire suppression sectors; lists unacceptable substitutes in specific end-uses in the refrigeration and AC sector; and changes the status of a number of substitutes that were previously listed as acceptable in the refrigeration and AC, and foam blowing sectors. The EPA is also listing propane as acceptable, subject to use conditions, as a refrigerant in certain new equipment and exempting it in these end-uses from the venting prohibition under CAA. Additionally, the EPA is applying the existing listing decisions for foam blowing agents to closed cell foam products and products containing closed cell foam. In each instance where the EPA is listing a new substitute as unacceptable or is changing the status of a substitute from acceptable to unacceptable, the EPA has determined that there are other alternatives that pose lower overall risk to human health and/or the environment. This rule results in environmental benefits up to 7 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent (MMTCO2eq) in 2025, equal to the carbon dioxide emissions from the annual electricity use of more than one million homes.

An advance copy of the final rule (Rule 21) is available at www.epa.gov/snap/snap-regulations which will be updated once the final rule is published in the Federal Register. To view the public docket in the Federal Register, visit www.regulations.gov and search for docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0663.

608 Action — On September 26, 2016, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the final rule Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. This final rule strengthens the refrigerant management program under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act and extends the regulations to non-ozone depleting substitutes such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This action lowers the leak rate at which large air conditioning and refrigeration appliances must be repaired and incorporates industry best practices such as verifying repairs and conducting regular leak inspections on leaking appliances. EPA estimates the ODS and HFC emissions avoided from this rule to be 114 ozone depletion potential-weighted metric tons and more than 7.3 MMTCO2eq annually.

An advance copy of the final rule is available at www.epa.gov/section608/revised-section-608-refrigerant-management-regulations which will be updated once the final rule is published in the Federal Register. To view the public docket in the Federal Register, visit www.regulations.gov and search for docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0453.

Obituary for Scott Walter Lewis

September 26, 2016


lewis_obit1 lewis_obit2

3M, Ansul, Chemguard, Buckeye, Others Sued Over Foam

September 19, 2016
Credit: George Clerk/iStockphoto.com

Credit: George Clerk/iStockphoto.com


By P.J. D’Annunzio
The Legal Intelligencer

Bucks and Montgomery County residents whose water was allegedly contaminated when toxic fire-fighting foam used at nearby military bases seeped into their wells have filed a lawsuit against 3M and several other manufacturers of the chemical.

The plaintiffs in the prospective class action demanded compensation for medical monitoring and property damage, claiming the defendants—including 3M, Angus Fire and its subsidiary National Foam, The Ansul Co., Buckeye Fire Protection Co., and Chemguard—failed to warn users about the dangers of improperly disposing Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF.

“For years, residents living near military bases in eastern Pennsylvania were unknowingly exposed to dangerous chemicals in their drinking water,” Robin Greenwald, head of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit at Weitz & Luxenberg, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement Sept. 16.

“With this lawsuit, we are fighting to ensure that the companies who manufactured and marketed products containing these chemicals—and put their profits ahead of public health in the process—are brought to justice for their wrongdoing,” Greenwald said.

An attorney representing 3M said Sept. 16 that the company had faced similar cases before and prevailed.

“AFFF is a product that was used by the U.S. military and departments of defense around the world because it saves lives—which likely explains why this product remains in use approximately a decade after 3M exited the sales of it,” William A. Brewer III, a partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselor, said in an email. “In any event, we believe these claims lack merit. 3M sold these products with instructions regarding their safe use and disposal.”

A representative for Ansul and Chemguard said they are aware of the legal action against them and other fire-fighting foam manufacturers, but said it’s their policy not to comment on pending litigation. A representative for Angus did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Buckeye. A representative of National Foam declined to comment.

The complaint said that the spilled chemicals originated from training exercises at the now decommissioned Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster. The U.S. Navy has not been named as a defendant.

“The Navy has offered assistance to several impacted residents, but their effort is too little, too late,” the complaint said.

The plaintiffs instead targeted the companies, arguing “the defendants knowingly manufactured, sold, and distributed a dangerous and defective product, failed to provide proper warnings to protect bystanders, such as the plaintiffs, and failed to recall their products when they took them off the market.”

P.J. D’Annunzio can be contacted at ­215-557-2315 or pdannunzio@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @PJDannunzioTLI.

The original article can be found here.