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The project team arrives at Canadian Forces Station Alert, Nunavut, the northernmost permanently-inhabited place in the world.
The project team arrives at Canadian Forces Station Alert, Nunavut, the northernmost permanently-inhabited place in the world.

Designing a modern fire suppression system is a complex task, but add in aging buildings, limited access to water and -40℃ to -50℃ temperatures? That’s a whole other level of complexity.

It’s just such a challenge that DCC is currently working to meet, as it manages a $6-million project to design and install new fire alarms and fire suppression equipment at CFS Alert in Nunavut.

The station’s 90 or so buildings—work areas, accommodations and outbuildings, covering more than 25,000 m2—date from the 1980s and lack up-to-date fire alarms and, in some locations, sprinklers, explains Nathan Koutroulides, Technical Specialist, Project Management.

However, water is in short supply. Fresh water from a lake 2.6 km away is stored in two 100,000-litre tanks on site, but that could be insufficient to put out a larger fire, and there is no secondary source.

At the same time, water itself can be a problem for facilities with specialized equipment or outbuildings with no heating, because of the damage it causes—either directly or due to freezing—when used to fight a fire.

These and numerous other factors mean that the final design for the station’s fire system includes “different approaches for different types of buildings and contents,” Koutroulides says. At the same time, “we need redundancy and consistency across systems for similar facilities” to ease any maintenance that might be required at this distant location at the top of the world.

Koutroulides and DCC colleagues are currently working to ensure the design is complete and all the necessary installation equipment is ready to be delivered to CFS Alert by the annual sealift in May. The alarm system is expected to be up and running three months after the design, with the fire suppression system scheduled to be fully installed and tested in 2019–2020.

The Alert fire suppression project team at CFS Alert, Nunavut.
The Alert fire suppression project team at CFS Alert, Nunavut.




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