Is Cheap Fire Safety Equipment Really Cheap?
How many times in your life have you bought that new material possession for yourself, only to realize belatedly that you are the proud new owner of utter rubbish? Count me among those who have! In fact, it’s a lesson I have learned the hard way many times, and will likely have to learn it a few more times before it truly sticks. I have lost count of the number of really bad shirts, shoes, and miscellaneous gadgets (that I never needed) that I’ve randomly purchased online, only to realize my folly when the junk shows up at my door. But when it comes to the things that truly count, the big things upon which the wheels of my life depend to roll me smoothly forward, I try hard to get it right, to buy quality products upon which I can bank my fortune.
Why Would Anybody Buy a Cheap Safety System for Critical Equipment?
Seriously, why? What part of that even sounds like a good idea. Why would you trust the safety of your critical equipment, the lifeblood of your manufacturing throughput, to a questionable subsystem? Why let your security slip away, because like me buying a stupid sweater online, you think you have a bargain, without really thinking it over?
Was it some slick salesperson selling you a fast line? Was it an eager purchasing agent who wanted to look good on the spreadsheet? (There seems to be an ongoing struggle in many semiconductor companies, between the engineers who recommend the proper equipment specifications for their processes, and the purchasing people who try to squeeze every nickel they can into the bottom line. While we can all appreciate the need to be cost-effective in our business dealings, we must never allow the zeal for cost savings to compromise the well-being of our bread and butter.) It really doesn’t matter why some people waste their money on cheap and substandard safety equipment. We all know better, and we should not do it.
Something that really bugs me, as a semiconductor fire safety professional, is seeing a customer with a fire safety system that couldn’t function even if the continuation of the universe depended on it. Why even bother having a fire safety system, if all you have is a dubious, overpriced decoration? One can extrapolate the hypothetical scenarios that led to a customer depending on a useless decoration on their process tool, pretending like they have a fire safety system in place. It’s alright for me to pretend like my ugly tee shirt is fashionable. It’s not even slightly amusing to pretend like a useless decoration will serve as a proper fire safety system.
We once audited a semiconductor manufacturing company, a name-brand, global semiconductor company, and discovered the CO2 lines for their fire suppression systems had never been connected. They had gone nearly a decade with a fire suppression system that, besides being utter junk to begin with, was not even connected to the suppression agent. It was essentially an overpriced decoration, and not a festive decoration at that! Sigh!
Why even bother having a fire safety system, if it’s not going to work? Why buy one if it is going to become defective in a few months’ time? At KFPI, we realize how bothersome fire safety systems can be. We understand how challenging it is to maintain a semiconductor process line. Having to worry about a fire safety system is an added responsibility that few people desire to shoulder. We get it! We really do. But please don’t underestimate the importance of having one, and having one that works.
One should not be installing a fire safety system because some pesky government or industry code requires it. The purpose and advantage of having proper fire safety systems to protect the lives of workers, expensive manufacturing equipment, and the well-being of the process line, should be quite clear to anybody vested in semiconductor manufacturing. We have to have them. Let’s choose the right systems and install them properly! Pretty please!
Cheap fire safety systems are not cheap in the long run. They are more trouble than they are worth. No more wondering how long those exposed metal nozzles will last in an acid mist! No more wondering if your flame detectors will really detect a fire fueled by the chemistry in your tool! Will those bargain-basement CO2 pipes hold together when the time comes to blow that pressurized gas into the process tool, to save the process line from utter disaster? Is there enough CO2 to suppress a fire in your particular tool? Did anybody actually calculate the exhaust flow rate, when they sized the system? Stop worrying about it, and let KFPI worry about it for you!
Fire Safety Leadership
In addition to fire safety solutions for semiconductor equipment, KFPI also provides fire safety leadership in the semiconductor EHS arena. We provide fire safety recommendations for industry improvements, equipment fire safety risk assessment and consulting, and system inspections and audits – regardless of size and scope of the requirement. KFPI also offers fire safety testing for semiconductor process chemistries and fire safety hazards, as well as research and development of new fire safety products and fire safety methodologies.