Mar 01, 2023

Fireaway Inc. is proud to announce receipt of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Certificate of Approval (COA) for our pre-engineered Stat-X® condensed aerosol fire suppression systems to protect Class A (surface), B, and C hazards in marine applications. USCG certified fire protection products are required for vessels operating within the waters of the United States. Stat-X is the first aerosol fire suppression system to secure this respected approval.

Fire protection systems for marine applications are undergoing rapid technology and regulatory changes.

You can find the Stat-X fixed fire suppression COA listed under the manufacturer name of “Fireaway” on the USCG-approved equipment list (EQList Search)[2]

Stat-X Receives USCG Approval—Innovation for Marine Fire Protection

Fireaway, the manufacturer of the innovative fire suppression product Stat-X®, is pleased and honored to announce the approval by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) of our marine pre-engineered Stat-X fire suppression systems. According to Fireaway’s president and CEO, Lance Harry, P.E., “The approval of Stat-X by the Coast Guard is a gamechanger for fire protection in the marine industry.” As Stat-X is the first condensed aerosol fire suppression agent to be USCG-approved, this heralds a new era for marine fire protection, providing mariners with alternatives to legacy gaseous fire suppression systems.

Harry went on to say that “Stat-X’s approval not only substantiates the efficacy of our aerosol and delivery system, it is also very timely for the marine industry as multiple fire suppression agents are facing intense scrutiny or are being taken off the market altogether for health and environmental concerns.” Stat-X, in addition to being very effective for fire suppression in a variety of marine applications, poses no health or environmental risks when designed, installed, and deployed properly.

The Backstory

The last few years have been a tumultuous time for fire suppression agents. After Halon was banned in 1994 because of its ozone-depleting properties, many of its replacements have also been found to possess characteristics equally harmful to the environment. Additionally, the fluorinated surfactants used in popular firefighting foams have been proven to be the source of widespread water contamination and serious medical conditions.

To this point, in October of 2022, the USCG issued a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB 06-22)[1] announcing the phasedown of FM-200 (generically known as HFC-227ea) which is a Halon replacement manufactured by ChemoursTM (and under many other brand names, by other manufacturers around the world) FM-200 is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) which, along with other HFC’s, has been identified as having high global-warming potential.

FM-200 was introduced in the mid 90’s as a replacement for Halon 1301. At the time, having zero ODP was the primary qualification for a viable alternative product. As it turns out, there was more to the climate change challenge. Continued research proved that many of the new replacements harbored characteristics that were just as damaging to the environment, but in different ways. In 2020, the U.S. government passed the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act that identified a swathe of HFCs as having high global-warming potential and mandated that their production be severely curtailed.

On the heels of this development, additional but separate investigations by the EPA revealed that fluorinated components such as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) may be linked to water contamination that has led to a variety of potentially deadly medical ailments. These compounds have been identified in firefighting foams and are in the same family as some clean agents such as NovecTM 1230™ (FK-5-1-12). With European Union regulators already acting against PFAS and foreseeing a bleak future for the agent, 3M™ (the manufacturer of Novec 1230) announced they would voluntarily cease production of all PFAS by 2025.

One result of this turmoil is the marine industry experiencing significant challenges regarding fire suppression agents, particularly with respect to fixed systems. Aware of the large number of FM-200 systems currently onboard vessels, the USCG provided the first wave of guidance with the issuance of MSIB 06-22 in June of 2022.

The MSIB highlights the phase down of FM-200 production and predicts supply shortages which will lead to drastically increased cost for replacement agent, if it can be sourced at all. The U.S. Coast Guard goes on to state that this “could lead to systems being unserviceable or delays in completing maintenance. Vessels that have an inoperable fire suppression system are likely to receive a deficiency or be issued a do-not-sail order.”

The MSIB goes on to list a variety of chemicals and systems as possible FM-200 replacements. Interestingly, Novec 1230 still made the list despite 3M discontinuing its production by 2025. Note that the MSIB was issued approximately 3 months prior to the announcement by 3M. Had the timing of these two announcements been different, it is unlikely Novec 1230 would be included as a replacement for FM-200. Further, this MSIB was issued prior to completion of the USCG Certificate of Approval for Stat-X systems. It is likely that Stat-X would be included as an FM-200 replacement, had this timing been different.

The Stat-X Solution

The special hazards fire-suppression industry is in a challenging time, with genuine pitfalls that can have outsized consequences if an organization makes the wrong decision about which fire suppression agent to use. Many companies have gone through the replacement of Halon, selecting FM-200. Now, the situation is similar with the need to find alternatives to FM-200, and possibly Novec 1230. Additionally, with Novec 1230, they may find themselves with civil exposure if the current class action lawsuits for PFAS water contamination are any barometer.

Although the situation is not getting much media attention, it is widely discussed in industrial circles that safety managers, fire protection engineers, environmental safety managers, and fire chiefs are trying to figure out the best response to the gap in protection options.

A solution to this challenge is an innovative fire suppression agent with a unique delivery system that is not only highly effective on Class A (surface), B, and C fires, but is certified to have no global-warming potential, no ozone-depletion potential, zero atmospheric life (persistence), and is rated for use in normally occupied areas. That agent is Stat-X.

In addition to having superior asset protection, Stat-X users are afforded a feature of almost equal value—regulatory certainty. They can be certain they will not find themselves facing health and environmental pressure from regulatory agencies.

Stat-X Achieves USCG Approval

Adding to these already considerable benefits, Stat-X is now USCG-approved. This is a significant development, as the Coast Guard is recognizing Stat-X’s value to the marine community and making it available for installation on a wide range of vessels it inspects for safety equipment and seaworthiness.

Receiving a U. S. Coast Guard Certificate of Approval (COA) is a lengthy and rigorous process. What makes Stat-X’s approval special, it is the first condensed aerosol agent to ever be selected, making Stat-X a pioneer in the world of fire suppression agents.

Based on the COA issued in December 2022, Stat-X received approval for the installation of T-units (thermal/automatic) for use in enclosed areas such as machinery spaces. In the COA, the Coast Guard declared the “Stat-X system is deemed equivalent to a gas-based fire suppression system within its dimensional limitations.”

Specifically, the approval covers Stat-X installations for marine spaces having the following dimensions:

This is equivalent to a ~16’ x 16’ x 10’ space, which translates into vessels of all types between ~33’ (10m) and ~492’ (150m). It is important to note that the approval is based on volume of the protected space and not the length or type of the vessel. The COA also states explicitly that Stat-X is approved for use in “both normally unoccupied and normally occupied spaces,” implying it is safe to use where personnel may be exposed to the agent following an activation.


Stat-X Achieves USCG Approval

Stat-X Achieves USCG Approval

Another Stat-X Advantage

Let’s compare piping and components required for different types of systems. Both gaseous and water-based systems have significant piping requirements to deliver the agent from its supply to the point of application. Additionally, these systems require a dedicated space on the vessel to store the agent containers. For any gaseous system, the bank(s) of cylinders required can be considerable. And for water-based systems, fire pumps, nitrogen (or air) cylinders and system control valves represent a substantial amount of infrastructure. For vessel designers and commercial operators, vessel equipment space and weight are important attributes. Finally, installation costs for systems with substantial piping and component infrastructure, can be burdensome and prohibitive.

Gaseous systems also have laborious testing and maintenance requirements which must be completed with records available for USCG inspection. Failure to properly care for and maintain the systems according to the applicable standards can result in the vessel being issued a Do-Not-Sail Order, taking it out of service and ceasing its earning ability until the issue is rectified. On large vessels, this lost revenue can be substantial.

Contrast these systems to Stat-X, which has no piping requirements, does not require dedicated space for the system, has a fifteen-year service life, and requires almost no maintenance. The Stat-X benefit immediately becomes apparent – compact design, light weight, and effective fire suppression. Plus, a Stat-X system can be easily and quickly retrofitted to vessels without costly downtime and shipyard rework.

In test after test, Stat-X proves itself as an equivalent or superior fire suppression agent to its peers. With Stat-X, the agent performs as expected, with multiple, global approval and certification agencies attesting to this fact. In this instance, the most respected agency in the world for marine safety—the United States Coast Guard—has literally put its stamp of approval on Stat-X with its inclusion on their Approved Equipment List.[2]

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The last few years have been filled with uncertainty of one form or another. Presently, there are many vessel owners and operators that are uncertain about how to handle the crisis affecting fire suppression agents. With Stat-X, you can be certain that it will perform effectively while causing no environmental hazards, and that its use will not harm mariners or the public. It is also easier to install and maintain than the other marine options. Stat-X: Certainty in marine fire suppression

[1] USCG MSIB (06-22)

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