Frank Mendham

Dr Frank Mendham

Mendham Consultants

Flammable refrigerant systems: a fire explosion risk perspective


This presentation addresses the need for higher-level risk assessment using Hazard and Operability (HAZOP), risk-based Hazardous Area Classification (HAC) and water-mist-based fire protection for flammable refrigerant systems.

Although design and contracting refrigeration firms declare that their installed systems comply with the prescriptive requirements of AS/NZS ISO 817 and AS/NZS 5149 (Part 1 to Part 4), regulators typically advise that conformity with Standards is only the starting point to achieving regulatory compliance.

In relation to the storage and handling of flammable hazardous chemicals, harmonised Work Health and Safety Regulations focus on the risk of a fire or explosion.

The Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking (PCBU) has certain duties to prevent an occurrence that eventuates in a fire or explosion. These obligations may go well beyond prescriptive standards compliance. Simple compliance with examples shown in the appendix of HAC standard AS/NZS 60079.10.1 may not be adequate in meeting regulatory compliance without it being informed by HAZOP. Additionally, traditional fire protection approaches are considered by some within the fire engineering industry as inadequate for managing the consequences of anhydrous ammonia losses of containment. 

About Mendham
Dr Mendham is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Dangerous Goods Consultants; a Companion Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers; a Professional Member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (USA); a Chartered Engineer; and a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ). He has been practising in dangerous goods and industrial fire and risk engineering for over 40 years, with significant recent work for Australian Defence; Australian Federal Police; the recently completed Hilton Foods facility; and the Port of Brisbane TEYS facility.

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