Complexity leads to specialization. Such is the case when selecting emergency showers and eyewashes. While a standard catalog product might be appropriate in a small application like a single eyewash in a lab, larger facilities with more complex industrial processes and multiple hazards are a different story.

Specifying a complete emergency equipment system, including matched componentry that addresses the specific needs of a business or unique location, has evolved into a science. And, like any science, the more one works in it the more one becomes skilled in the art. With emergency equipment, specialization has led to packaged, “plug-and-play” response systems, known as Enclosed Emergency Environments (E3). These balanced and application-matched systems leverage the engineering talents of the equipment manufacturer in tailoring appropriate packages for each use.

Daunting challenge

The emergency equipment market has been moving toward E3-type products for some time. The challenge of mating drench showers to eyewashes or eye/face washes, with varying water supplies and demands, as well as the further complications of multiple shower/eyewash installations — which could possibly be needed simultaneously — is quite daunting in itself. But if you add in disbursed equipment locations, activation monitoring and, lately, the need for tempered water or reverse tempering, the challenge multiplies.

Today, it is really difficult to stay abreast of all of the requirements and products, let alone selecting and matching the various components. The E3 concept has gained great traction in the marketplace because the equipment manufacturer — whose core competencies are in design and specification — designs and builds a balanced, self-contained package of equipment that specifically meets each customer’s individual needs.

Booth environments

Since E3 booths can be needed in a variety of environments, ranging from ultra-cleanrooms to refineries or remote locations lacking water supplies and/or power, their construction and materials vary. Booth designs and installations range from the use of plastic and resin compounds through all-stainless-steel construction. E3s can be designed for indoor or outdoor installation. And seasonal weather fluctuations can also be accommodated in booth construction materials and internal componentry specified.

Another advantage is that because the E3 is an enclosure it protects the individual and the emergency equipment from both the elements and a possibly corrosive atmosphere. Plus, an enclosure addresses the issue of victim privacy. But, in this case, the variety of booth configurations generally allows sufficient space inside for emergency assistance to be performed by a second individual while the victim is being showered and/or irrigated.

While a booth configuration serves to keep outside elements out, it also keeps warmth from tempered water or cool reverse-tempered water temperatures in, serving to make the victim much more comfortable, obviously aiding in their use of the equipment for a full drench or irrigation cycle.

In many industrial environments, the snarl of pipes, ducts, racks, conveyors and the like can often obscure the visibility of emergency equipment. This is yet another advantage of E3s. Their size and bold color most often act as a billboard of sorts, facilitating a panicked victim’s ability to locate them in a hurry.

As mentioned earlier, most E3s are engineered to be plug-and-play. That is, they are pre-engineered packages usually having a single water inlet connection, a single electrical connection and a single outlet connection for possibly sharing functions, such as tempered water, with other emergency equipment installations.

A variety of booth sizes and configurations are available, depending on need and componentry to be used. Each has sufficient doors and access panels to ease both use and maintenance.

Internal configurations

A complete spectrum of emergency showers, eyewashes and eye/face washes can be specified for E3 use. Tempered water, using either an integral hot-water heater or external steam heat, is often needed. Reverse tempering is also available, where either high ambient temperatures — heating nearby water — or high water temperatures in hot climates are present. And for certain conditions, a combination of both tempering and reverse tempering can be specified. Moreover, E3s can be equipped with integral booster or re-circulation pumps to assure sufficient water pressure or maintain a prescribed temperature range.

Likewise, a variety of electrical classifications can be specified in any voltage requirement while also meeting hazardous, weather-proof or corrosion-resistant standards or any combination thereof.

For remote locations, air-charged systems can be used where there might be power available but not a suitable supply of water.

Finally, E3s provide an excellent platform from which to generate an activation alarm. They can be equipped with flow or proximity switches to signal activation, as well as door opening switches, if needed. Their high visibility lends itself to local alarms, horns or sirens, and they are an excellent, elevated base upon which to mount wireless remote monitoring componentry.

Far beyond

E3s are the future of industrial emergency equipment. While it might have been acceptable to thread together some pipes, unions, valves and a shower head in the past, the science of safety has moved far beyond those beginnings. E3s are the state-of-the-art packaging for state-of-the-art componentry. And updates to newly developed components are automatically made a part of E3 packages.

SIDEBAR: Where E3s are used

E3s enjoy a wide industrial application reach, mostly because they concurrently address a number of challenges faced by today’s specifier. Just a partial list of indoor and outdoor industrial applications include:

  • chemical processing
  • petroleum processing
  • power plants
  • tank farms
  • pulp & paper mills
  • smelters/metal refining
  • mining
  • wastewater treatment
  • food processing
  • laboratories
  • schools, universities
  • automotive
  • aerospace
  • electronics and fabs
  • medical facilities
  • military bases