Port of Felixstowe

We’re helping to maintain the sea water fire main safety system at Britain’s busiest container port.

The Port of Felixstowe is Britain’s busiest container port and one of the largest in Europe. With vast amounts of freight passing through each year, continuous crane movements and thousands of people on site at all times, maintaining fire safety systems in such a challenging environment is paramount.

To provide appropriate firefighting capacity the port has an extensive sea water fire main, incorporating large diameter pipework, which stretches across 500 acres. As part of the site’s continuous preventative maintenance plan, the network was due for an infrastructure integrity review.

Having previously been engaged to trace and map the water pipes and valves, we were ideally positioned to carry out the checks required.

Checking the system

Our engineering team began work on the extensive network of pipes, checking operational integrity area-by-area.

By systematically working through various zones of the pipe network they identified every isolation valve in turn, checking that each was fully operational. In addition, each fire hydrant on the network was located, identified and flushed to remove any debris and air pockets that could compromise the performance of the system.

Simon Crane, AWB business account manager said: “Good maintenance helps to improve the operation and life expectancy of the pumps on systems like this sea water fire main. Our team were very thorough, identifying broken and seized valves that could have caused significant issues.”

Putting the pressure on leaks

As well as carrying out checks on the valves and hydrants, our leakage engineers also performed pressure tests across the network. By analysing the results and using specialist detection techniques, they were able to pinpoint the exact locations where leaks had occurred – an inevitability on such an extensive and complicated network.

Results through collaboration

Due to the nature and complexity of the site and its associated activities, it was important for us to work closely with operational divisions of the port – the engineering department, Port Fire & Rescue Service and container handling operations – working safely to protect both members of the public and staff.


Image of the Port of Felixstowe by John Fielding, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37854202
A joint venture between Anglian Water Business and NWG business