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#1 2015-01-30 08:21:02

JoshNH4H
Member
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526
Website

Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

http://www.space.com/28388-greenhouse-f … ssion.html

Four crewmembers simulating a mission on Mars dealt with a real-life emergency late last month — a greenhouse fire so strong that flames reached at least 10 feet (3 meters) high.

On Dec. 29, the first day of their mission, the crew noticed an unusual power surge in their habitat at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), in the Utah desert near the small town of Hanksville. A few minutes later, somebody spotted smoke coming from the greenhouse.

Crew commander Nick Orenstein, an experienced camper who has built bonfires in the past, ran outside to take a look. He said he figured the group could take on the fire, because the smoke was blowing away from the habitat, and only one shelf inside the greenhouse was aflame. At that time, the fire was about the size of three overstuffed chairs. [Mock Mars Mission Photos: Life on a Simulated Red Planet]

"This is a moment where instinct took over, the instinct of fight or flight, and we had fight," Orenstein told Space.com. "There really wasn't a question at the moment."

It took the crew about half an hour to bring the fire under control. Orenstein and crew engineer Dmitry Smirnov used all available fire extinguishers on site, but even after the extinguishers were exhausted and the power cut, the fire was still not out.

[...]

This is unfortunate but actually probably a good learning experience.  Hopefully the MDRS program recovers!


-Josh

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#2 2015-01-30 23:37:21

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,056

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

Post about fire in MDRS2.0

SpaceNut wrote:

The second generation  MDRS GreenHab Destroyed by Fire

For five seasons, the facility functioned as an experimental closed loop water recycling system, but testing ceased when it was concluded that the system was too small to maintain the Habitat with six full-time crew members.

http://www.marssociety.org/home/press/a … edirects=0

There is a link in the story to help rebuild the stations greenhouse....

Important notes on water useage in the station is that they typically use only a 3rd of what Nasa indicates that will be needed so we now know what size to target for mars to just do water filtration....

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#3 2015-01-30 23:38:43

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,056

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

Excelsior wrote:

The story finally hit the media.

An interesting lesson seems to have been learned here...

It took the crew about half an hour to bring the fire under control. Orenstein and crew engineer Dmitry Smirnov used all available fire extinguishers on site, but even after the extinguishers were exhausted and the power cut, the fire was still not out.

"We put out the rest by putting water on the flames," Orenstein recalled.

The four-person crew was barely able to deal with the emergency, he added. "Six or seven [people], to me, seems realistic as the adequate number of people to handle a situation like this most effectively."

It seems to me that this contingency needs to play an important role in mission planning. Firefighting is a major issue on ships at sea, there is no reason to believe spacecraft and surface habs would be any different. If you don't have sufficient manpower to fight the fire, everyone is dead. There is no "jumping overboard".

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#4 2015-01-30 23:39:44

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,056

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

SpaceNut wrote:

While its a problem on earth a fire on mars would mean jumping inot a space suit, getting into the exit chamber and releasing the air in the cabin to the outside or flooding it with CO2....

"The GreenHab as a greenhouse wasn't cost-effective; we had to keep it heated and cooled. The idea is this will be much easier to maintain," Rupert said.

The Fisher GreenHab was the second greenhouse built at MDRS, after the first one collapsed under heavy winds. Built in 2003, the structure was first used for five years as an experimental water recycling system.

The GreenHab was reconfigured in 2009 for use as a greenhouse, after concerns were raised that the water-recycling system would not be able to support crews properly. Crops for crews were grown for three seasons. A "Zen Garden" was also available for crews inside the GreenHab, allowing for a small spot to retreat from the main habitat for privacy.

The Mars Society aims to have a replacement structure ready in time for the 2015-16 field season, which begins this fall.

Good that it will get replaced bad that its going to be more than $40,000 to do so.

Seems that we need a professionally designed struture to do the experiments within and to get the heating and cooling correct at the least amount of energy costs to boot....

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#5 2015-01-30 23:41:55

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,056

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

I am sure that after a period of cleanup it will be started up again....

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#6 2016-03-17 23:31:18

Dexter2999
Member
Registered: 2016-03-08
Posts: 20

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

Do they crowdsource for funds for this kind of stuff at all?

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#7 2016-03-18 19:37:18

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,056

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

Welcome to NewMars Dexter2999.

I am not in the know as I am not a member but maybe one that is will reply....

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#8 2021-08-06 17:23:59

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,252

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

For SpaceNut (primarily) but all are welcome to comment ....

The top level comments/posts in this topic do not discuss or reveal the cause of the fire in the Mars Society test facility.

I am surprised that a fire of such magnitude was even possible. 

Todo item: Find out cause of the fire and report it to the group via post.

Todo item: Reflect on the fire as it relates to RobertDyck's Large Ship or to a habitat on Mars.

(th)

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#9 2021-08-06 19:29:44

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,056

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

Fires in space as very simular to how you would go about them on a submarine. While small all hands on deck to extinguish but once thats not going to happen in that first minute as it grows one will evacuate the compartment to be able to close it and fill it with an atmosphere or removal of what is present that would put it out.
Other actions are to cut power to the compartment and fluids that can break down to give the fire more fuel to burn.

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#10 2021-08-06 19:38:14

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,252

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

For SpaceNut re #9

Thanks for adding value to this (ancient) topic ....

The ability to contain a fire as you have described depends upon the architect/designer .... and this forum ** has ** one!  RobertDyck is hard at work (or rather, ** occasionally ** is hard at work) on design of Large Ship.  Unlike the ocean going liner that is his inspiration, he is going to have to follow your lead and design for submarine environment and procedures.   RobertDyck has one very significant advantage over a submarine designer!  RobertDyck can follow your suggestion and build rapid decompression capability into modules.  That is most definitely ** NOT ** an option for submarine designers.

***
Because this topic was started way back when (at the time of the fire in the desert facility) I would invite members with posting privileges to update the topic with news of any changes there were made to prevent such conflagration in the future.

If there is a Mars Society member who has experience in the MDRS facility, please consider Post #2 of Recruiting.  At present (to the best of my knowledge) no one currently a member of this forum has experience living in or dealing with the test facility.

(th)

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#11 2021-08-07 00:30:12

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,606

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

tahanson43206,

In the Navy we used CO2 (electrical / paper / wood / clothing / dryer lint) or dry chemical (small grease or fuel oil fires like the deep fat fryers; PKP or "Purple K" was like flipping a light switch on grease fires, but not fun to inhale or clean up after; you are instantly persona-non-grata with the electricians and you will get questioned for using it, but it's still worth it when you need it) or water deluge (mainspaces or aircraft, with or without AFFF; they actually asked us why we didn't use AFFF on that stupid deep fat fryer fire instead of PKP, as if we had our own hose team and equipment laid out and on standby while we were preparing the next meal- this was during my first six months aboard my first ship while "mess cranking") to gain control over fires.  Main spaces are also equipped with Halon systems, but those are not to be trifled with.  You use Halon after you've exhausted other options, because anyone inside who is not wearing full FFE is likely to be killed.

Oxygen Breathing Apparatus

Anyone who thinks an OBA is "light and comfortable to wear" has clearly never spent much time in a 160 degree fireroom as part of a hose team, nor babysitting a backup diesel generator pouring smoke into the ship.  By the time I was aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carriers, we had SCBAs.  The SCBAs were heavier, definitely more comfortable to wear, and slightly more complicated to use.  I can't recall having any of those "thick leather gloves" for removing the canisters mentioned in that Wikipedia article, either.  We had thin fire retardant cotton gloves and used a rag held by your partner to "catch the candle" as the canister was released.  Sometimes a member of your damage control locker's hose team would use real firefighting gloves to catch them for you.  You push the OBA away from your chest so you don't drop the hot canister on your crotch.  The OBA canisters were surprisingly good at starting fires on their own, to the point that we never placed them on top of any sort of fabric or flammable substance.  We would go to a clear deck area with no diesel or kerosene residue, preferably outside the skin of the ship, and place them on the deck to allow them to cool off, and have someone with a CO2 extinguisher watch over them for about 10 minutes.  You'd also better be pretty thin if you want to fit through a hatch while wearing either the OBA or newer SCBA.  The OBAs were much better for going through hatches than SCBAs (lean back and run your backside up against the lip of the hatch while you go through).

I'm partial to our trusty CO2 bottles.  They're heavy, or at least the kind we used were, but they usually get the job done if you respond quickly and don't typically corrode the hell out of electrical stuff the way that dry chemical does.  If you no longer care about whether or not anyone inside a compartment survives, then dog all doors and hatches, use Halon, and call it a day.

If a structure was already weakened by fire, then I would not want to rapidly decompress it, but that's just me.  However, venting the atmosphere to space is a perfectly viable way of gaining control over a fire, and the net effect of doing that would be no different to anyone inside than using Halon.  The primary issue I take with that approach is accidental decompression through loss of sealing.

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#12 2021-08-07 06:22:51

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,252

Re: Fire Ends Mock Mars Mission in Utah Desert

For kbd512 re #12

SearchTerm:Fire suppression aboard ship in oxygen atmosphere
SearchTerm:Halon use of to fight fire aboard ship

Since fires are a constant danger aboard the ISS (or any space craft in LEO or anywhere away from Earth), if anyone with posting privileges would be willing to investigate to see how fire danger and actual events are handled by space travelers, that would be welcome addition to this topic.

A note for kbd512 ...

The Large Ship will have full vacuum suits for all personnel, much as vessels (are supposed to) have life rings for all personnel.

These would be the natural choice for fighting a fire, although rapid action to suppress a fire might be required in space before there is time to don a suit.

A question for kbd512 ...

Since your experience was aboard multiple surface ships and NOT in submarines, the fire suppression methods you described might not necessarily apply to the submarine service, but some of them might.

A question for GW Johnson (who has reported exposure to a submarine in service) ... did you pick up any insights about fire fighting procedures for those?

It is possible that might not have come up in the time available to you aboard ship.

For all ... fire fighting aboard a flying vehicle might be somewhat similar to that activity in a space craft.   Can anyone speak to that?

The CO2 cartridge mentioned by kbd512 might well be standard equipment in an aircraft.

(th)

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