Offshore accommodation buildings and modules should be designed for maximum safety, as well as comfort. Offshore drilling units and related operations provide some of the most unique working environments on the planet today. It is imperative that workers reside in buildings that are constructed according to strict safety standards, such as IMO Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) guidelines or regulations from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) or the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
A60 buildings meet most of the common safety standards related to accommodations within the offshore oil and gas industry. This article will provide a brief overview of what an A60 rating involves, and why A60-rated buildings are so important to worker safety.
What is an A60 Rating?
An A60 rating is a fire class rating that indicates how long a door, wall, or other construction component can withstand a cellulosic fire. A60 doors and walls are designed to protect people from cellulosic fires for up to 60 minutes. Thus, an A60 building is composed of such A60-rated construction materials.
Cellulosic fires are fires primarily fueled from cellulose substances (such as timber, paper, cotton, and so forth). Cellulosic fires are (relatively) slow-growing with regard to temperature and intensity. A normal fire curve for a cellulosic fire achieves a temperature of 500 degrees Celsius within 5 minutes of ignition.
Cellulosic fires stand in contrast to hydrocarbon fires. These fires originate from the combustion of hydrocarbon compounds like oil or gas, and can achieve a flame temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius within 5 minutes. A60 rated doors and walls are thus tested along a different fire curve than H-class components. Basically, H-rated components are tested at higher temperatures within longer time frames.
That being said, for offshore applications that don't involve the likelihood of a hydrocarbon-based fire outbreak, A-rated construction materials usually provide sufficient protection for onsite employees.
Requirements of A60-Rated Components
A60 construction components are generally composed of toughened, rigid steel or a similar substance. Per 1974 SOLAS convention regulations, A60 doors must prevent the entrance of flame and smoke into the interior/exterior of the room for at least a full hour. No joint, nor any other area of the door, can rise more than 180 degrees Celsius above the ambient temperature within that hour-long time frame.
Det Norske Veritas Germanischer Lloyd (DNV GL) guidelines provide several technical requirements relating to both passive and active fire protection, as well as fire/gas detection within A60 buildings. With regards to passive fire protection, DNV GL regulations are designed to achieve the following goals:
- To prevent the escalation of the fire from one area to another
- To ensure that the temporary refuge remains intact for at least the specified time frame
- To protect offshore workers and other personnel from the heat and smoke of the fire, thus enabling evacuation or escape
- To protect systems and equipment vital to safety
- To maintain structural integrity for as long as possible
Why is an A60 Rating Important?
In contrast to an A0 rating (which provides minimal fire protection in an offshore drilling context), an A60 rating ensures that most fires that break out within an offshore working environment will be contained, and workers will have the opportunity to evacuate or at least stay protected until the fire is eliminated. Since offshore accommodations often include tight living quarters and significant space constriction, an A60-rated building could potentially mean the difference between life and death for company employees that stay onsite.
At Specialist Services RedGuard, we ensure that each one of our clients receives a highly customized solution for offshore accommodations. We supply A60 buildings and accommodation modules that comply with all relevant safety codes and standards, and fit the unique needs of each customer's situation.
We take worker safety very seriously, and work hard to deliver high quality, fire-rated accommodations for each company we partner with. Additionally, we take worker comfort into account as well. From lightweight modules to cantilevered accommodations, from J class to A class, from single modules to entire complexes, we are the offshore accommodation experts that can provide a solution perfectly tailored to your company's specific circumstances.
If you would like to learn more about the products and services that we offer, reach out to us at Specialist Services RedGuard today for further information.