World’s largest fire test of ship doors

Large testing frame

Larger and larger ships demand ever larger fire testing facilities

Larger and larger passenger ferries and cruise liners are being built, while shipping lines are competing to offer passengers the most open and inviting environments on board. This has resulted in a need to conduct maritime fire classification tests on increasingly large doors and glass sections.

Consequently, the DBI - Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, one of Europe’s leading maritime fire laboratories, deemed there would be a market for fire testing ship components which were larger than those that DBI and other certified fire laboratories were able to test using ‘normal’ equipment.

“We therefore decided to build a new and larger testing frame with steel supports which met the requirements for firetesting in accordance with the requirements of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The frame needed to be big enough for us to make optimum use of our combined furnace – with a fitted superstructure. This means that with the new equipment we are able to test ship components measuring up to 4.48 metres in height compared to the 3.18-metre-high components which used to be the maximum size,” says Anne Billestrup from DBI’s testing department.

The investment soon paid off. When the German steel door manufacturer Podszuck GmbH from Kiel heard about DBI’s new facility, the firm ordered a fire test on a 3.9-metre-high and approx. 2.8-metre-wide ship’s door.

The test was performed in two stages as it involved a sliding door which, according to the IMO requirements, needed to be fire-tested from both sides. The first test was carried out in the spring of 2010 while the second test took place in the autumn of 2010.

Largest ship part tested – ever
“This is the first time that a ship door of this size has ever been tested at a fire laboratory,” says Dieter Langhof, Managing Director of Podszuck GmbH. He travelled to Denmark to follow both fire tests at DBI together with his son Lars Langhof, who also works for the family-owned business.

The fire door withstood both 60-minute tests, which were conducted in accordance with IMO Resolution A.754(18). Consequently, the door could be classified as a Class A-60 door and sent on for the certification procedure at GL - Germanischer Lloyd in Hamburg.

Dieter Langhof describes the background for this work:
“We are seeing a demand for increasingly larger doors for passenger ferries, cruise liners and offshore installations. On cruise liners in particular, the shipping lines want to offer expansive, open and inviting areas for the sake of the passenger’s comfort and enjoyment, for example in connection with restaurants and shopping areas.

However, these large, open areas call for big fire doors which close automatically in the event of fire, preventing the fire from spreading.”

Competitive advantages
“Until now, we have only been able to supply fire-classified fire doors up to 2.4 metres in height, but we have received enquiries for doors measuring up to 3.5 metres. Fire doors of this size have, up until now, been approved on the basis of individual assessments based on documentation. However, with a certification based on the latest testing at DBI we, as the first in the market, will be able to offer fire-classified doors up to 3.9 metres high. And this will undoubtedly give us a competitive advantage as customers avoid the need for problematic approval procedures,” explains Dieter Langhof.

Podszuck GmbH’s Managing Director is proud of his company’s new product which, in addition to its size, has the advantage that it is produced and supplied in two parts so it is transport-friendly. Here, Podszuck has developed an installation system that facilitates on-site assembly. It was the joint in particular which was the focus of Lars and Dieter Langhof’s attention during the procedure in DBI’s testing hall, where this detail demonstrated its ability to withstand fire.

Satisfied customer
“We are very satisfied with our collaboration with DBI, where more than 30 fire tests have been conducted on our ship’s doors over the past 10 years,” says Dieter Langhof, adding:

“The facilities are excellent, and we have a lot of faith in the laboratory employees whom we have come to know as very competent partners. Finally, we set great store by DBI’s fast and flexible service.”

DBI’s involvement does not finish with fire testing the product. At least once a year, an employee travels to Kiel to perform product and quality checks at Podszuck GmbH. Here, samples are taken of materials which are fire tested at DBI’s fire laboratory in Hvidovre south of Copenhagen. This check must, above all, document to the US maritime inspection authority, the US Coast Guard, that the fire-classified products are still manufactured in the same way as when they were originally fire tested.

FACT BOX: Steel doors in all sizes

The German company Podszuck GmbH in Kiel manufactures steel fire doors for both onshore buildings and for ships and offshore installations. The firm, which was founded in 1919, is an important European supplier, especially to the maritime market.

Anne Billestrup
Technical Assistant

Phone : +45 51 57 23 37
Mail : ab|

Jernholmen 12
DK-2650 Hvidovre
Tlf. +45 36 34 90 00
Fax +45 36 34 90 01
E-mail: dbi|

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