Project : Hydroelectric Central Porce III and Design of
fire protection systems

name: General Fire Control Ltda.

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Project Manager

Dates: From February 22 /
2010 to April 09 / 2013


I was hired as a Project Manager by General Fire
Control (GFC) for commissioning fire protection systems. Initially I was
assigned to the project “Power Plant Porce III” for the first two and half
years, a project for Empresas Públicas de Medellin (EPM or Medellin Public Enterprises); afterwards, I was assigned to other
projects in Bogota because the first project finishedJp1 JJ2 . The Power Plant is
located in AntioquiaJJ3  (Colombia) within the
mountains 4 hours away from Medellin City. All the equipment and facilities
were underground, and the recommended access is by car.




1.2  The scope of the entire
project was the design and construction of the power plant Porce III, sponsored
by EPM, which business was to build power plants and supply the main public
services (electricity, water, communications, gas and sanitation) to Antioquia
Community. GFC was responsible to install the fire detection, protection and
extinguish systems. GFC had already designed these facilities in the past, but now
it was time to install them, in order to protect the specialized equipment and
professionals that were going to work there. GFC was dedicated to Fire
Engineering (consulting, designs and construction). The project scope for GFC included
consulting, fire detection (i.e. lineal heat detector, smoke detectors, beam
detector and VESDA), protection (i.e. fire doors, rolling fire doors, passive
protection and smoke curtains) and extinguishing systems (i.e. CO2,
sprinklers and portable extinguishers), and smoke extraction. All this
equipment was controlled from a Central Alarm Control Facility (CACF), where
systems were interconnected and programmed to work with a predefined sequence
if an emergency came up. Afterwards, GFC would take over the maintenance of all
this equipment according to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
standards. The cost of this project was $3.500.000 USD. Jp4 JJ5 


Our team was made up of the main Project Manager, who had
three managers in charge, I was one of them (see organizational chart below). My main responsibilities were the commissioning of the
fire protection systems, extinguish systems, smoke extraction, evacuation
routes, and CO2 facilities to protect the power generators. Jp6 Most of them were mechanical installations, when
electrical facilities were needed, the third manager took care of them. We all
arranged weekly meetings to coordinate the efforts. The three managers had crews in their charge,
which were made up of high qualified technicians from the city, and personnel from rural area who had
little education and some experience regarding mechanical installations.JJ7  Sometimes, it was
complex to manage the people from the rural area, since their work rights and
lifestyle were different.Jp8  According to the plan of EPM, my responsibilities as project
manager, and the required dexterities, I made my internal schedule of works
with MS Project, and requested the needed workforce (either specialized from
the city or from the surrounding rural area) and resources.Jp9 JJ10 





Figure 1. Organizational Chart



During the third year, the project was finished and I took care
of maintenance of the facility, and carried out small projects. Jp11 Since
the plant was located away from Bogota, I arranged monthly visits to supervise
and verify the executed maintenance work. Among my new responsibilities were
the design of fire extinguishing systems (e.g. CO2, sprinklers, etc.)
for offices, warehouses, power plants and other kinds of buildings;Jp12  dealing with customers; preparing quotations according to an initial
design. Depending
on the client and their needs, sometimes I visited their projects on site to understand
their needs and requirements to provide the proper advice regarding the right
fire protection facilities they neededJp13 . All these processes were performed under ISO 9000 (i.e. international
standards on quality management) and OHSAS 18000 (i.e. international
occupational health and safety management system), consequently we had to
follow and document each work to meet these standards.


Personal Work Place


At the beginning of the installing phase, some
materials and equipment were requested beforehand, however the supply and
installation of all the required equipment were too complex and many events were
not prevented. Because of that, I checked the conditions of the place to verify
I had all the supplies I required, and arranged the supply of missing items to
do the job correctly, according to the design. Many times, it was belated to
get some items on time because of the location of the project, however I managed
to get some of them from other contractors thanks to our good relationship, or brought
them from a nearby town when possible.Jp14  The
task of getting the materials, equipment and tools was done between the three
managers, as we all shared some means like trucks, forklifts and bridge-cranes.Jp15 


The first system I took care of was the fire
extinguishing systems. Jp16 I reviewed the
drawings and built facility conditions to plan the work. I gave my crews the instructions and
goals to work, and made sure they had everything they needed (i.e. materials
and tools)Jp17 . After I
checked they were working according to the technical standards (e.g. NFPA 13 standards,
client’s specifications) and safety regulations, I had to make sure the
installations were completed satisfactorily, and get them approved by the
client. Jp18 When certain
extensions of pipes were finished, I ask my crew to set up the pressure testing
and then handed this installation over to the auditors. The auditing company
reviewed according the sponsor’s specifications. These deliveries were
documented formally. When results were not satisfactoryJJ19 , I also documented the event, and analysed the data to find a reason
and a solution. 


The sprinklered system was supplied with water by
gravity pressure from a tank water that was on the top of the mountain. Once I
had finished the installation of all the pipe network, we filled up the tank with
water with a pump. Then, we tested all the hydraulic piping network according
to NFPA 13 standards. To finish successfully this installation, sometimes I had to
redesign some parts of the pipe network and sprinkler location, as EPM asked
changes due to new equipment or changes in their schedule. I used Fire Software
for sprinklers calculation (i.e. flow and pressure), AutoCAD and NFPA standards,
and MS Word to support the solution and changes.


My second responsibility was the smoke extraction system,
which was made up of two fans of 52 m3/s, two natural tunnel
formations, two ducting systems (average 6.5m2) and a smoke cooling
system (to protect the fans from the smoke’s heat). The ducts had to be
installed at 25 metres high over the floor and would join the two natural tunnels.
Ducts were built long time ago according to the drawings the client supplied,
but many had to be re-built onsite because the client could not maintain the site
relative sea levels (RSL) during the excavation. Therefore, I designed
some of the new ducts in AutoCAD, considering the fans, flow, speed, the new RSL
of the tunnels, the available space, and the dimension and shape of some
existing ductsJp21  that we wanted to reuse. I finished the assembly drawings and requested
to Bogotá branch the new pieces to build the final ducts onsite. Afterwards, we
proceeded to install them. I was supervising and taking part of this operation to
ensure people were following safety procedures and prevent any failure or
accident during the installation. It was a high-risk job due to the 25m height.


The third facility was the fire and smoke control
system, which consisted of fire doors and smoke curtainsJp22 . These materials were imported from USA and Germany respectively. One of my
duties was coaching my crews on how to install the equipment according to the Original
Equipment Manufacturers´ (OEM) instructions.Jp23  Another duty was the design of the passive protection
to get better the compartmentation and avoid the spread of fire and smoke to
other areas. Reason why I conducted a research with suppliers and literatureJp24 , and designed the passive seals according to the building requirements (e.g.
cable trays and pipes through walls), and submitted the proposal to EPM with the
required information and ACAD drawings to support the design and obtain theirJp25  approval. After some meetings the design was approved, and I quantified
and ordered the materials we required. Afterwards, I taught my crew how to
install them. Finally, I ran the testing (commissioned) of all these
installations according to the manufacturer´s specifications.


The forth system I managed was the fixed CO2
extinguishing system for the power generators. Jp26 Each generator had a pipe network, two batteries of 12 CO2 cylinders, a
Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) and its required electronic instrumentation. Jp27 I coordinated the installation works according to the drawings, providing
my crew everything they needed. This system was activated by sensed smoke with
VESDA (Very early smoke detection apparatus) detectors. Before installing its pipes, I verified
the real route and dimensions of the pipes and modelled it by the VESDA
Software to make sure it would properly sense smoke, Jp28 otherwise I would have to design another route.


All the mechanical equipment, detection gadgets and FACP
associated to Fire Protection and Extinguishing services were interconnected,
monitored and controlled with a software called “Web Server”. From a single
place, it allowed to program, operate and test the equipment under predefined
sequences, which were programmed depending on a specific contingency. After my
colleague programmed this software according to specifications, I and the auditing
company, tested, simulated and monitored all the emergencies and sequences in
order to check its operation. Jp29  


The last system was the evacuation signageJp30 . The initial evacuation signage plan was out-dated once the project (Power
plant) was completed, as there were a lot of changes regarding the position of
the equipment. Therefore,
I was given the latest as built drawings of the power plant, and I designed a
new evacuation signage design to insert and relocate signs, complying with the
guidelines of standard UNE 23035. Lastly, I coordinated their installations.   Jp31 


Whilst I managed the above duties, I used AutoCAD to
update all drawings, and deliver to EPM the as built drawings. I also used
MS Office to do the monthly reports Jp32 in
collaboration with my colleagues’ inputsJp33 , so GFC would be able to proceed with the invoice. Moreover,
by the end of this phase (i.e. installation) of the project, I also updated the operation manuals of
the fire facilities I managed, as it is an important guide for the power
plant’s operation teamJp34 . The manuals were handed formally after myself and my
peers trained the EPM’s workers at the proper use of the equipment.


Once the phase of installing all fire protection
facilities finished, I moved back to Bogota to manage the maintenance phase for
the power plant, and carry out basic and detailed engineering for fire
extinguishing systems, according to the requirements and needs of the client. I
managed these small projects since the quotation until their delivery. As I
mentioned before, the projects included the design of varied fire protection
systems, to this end I used AutoCAD, MS Project to program and monitor activities,
MS Word, MS Point, and Fire software. Jp35 




These experiences showed the complexity of the fire protection
facilities in a Power Plant, as they are all interconnected for life assurance
and limiting equipment damage. It involved management of different types of stakeholders,
Jp36 practical job application, research, software usage, soft skills,
mentoring and relocation adaptability; and in consequence, all of it gave
confidence and knowledge to manage similar projects. The contract was
successfully completed despite the drawbacks we faced due to some contractual
misunderstandings between EPM and GFC. I could manage some of these situations thanks
to my soft skills, and other issues with contractual written communications
that provided comprehensive technical details that supported the contract







 JJ3Es este el nombre quivalente en
ingles para “departamento”?





Cultural people







 Jp121.1a/a Fluidos

Evaluar el diseño apriopiado.

1.6a,c/e Management, engineer regulations, safety






Managing people





Construction Standards knowledge.














1.3/b. Design of HVAC

2.2/d. Visualization Acad





Research and apply literature.











 Jp311.3. Design for risk management,
fire engineering.

1.4/a. Research of signs.

1.6/c. Management, engineer regulations, safety














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