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Tyco in Oil & Gas: a heritage of security - Jason Pendlebury, Director, Oil, Gas and Marine, Tyc

Tyco, the world leader in fire and security solutions, has a long and storied history in the world of oil and gas fire safety solutions. With experience going back to the mid-19th century, the company provides staff and asset protection for many of the world’s largest operators in every oil-producing region of the globe. It generates over $11.5 billion in annual sales and employs 90,000 people across the globe, making it uniquely well-resourced to provide effective solutions for the oil & gas industry. Tyco operates across a wide range of industry assets and is just as capable of ensuring the functional safety of drill ships and supply vessels as it is of protecting high-capacity offshore platforms.

Tyco’s roots in the fire protection industry began in 1845 when engineering giant Mather & Platt acquired the manufacturing rights to the Grinnell sprinkler system, the first patented automatic sprinkler in the world. Wormald International, a subsidiary company designed to distribute the system across the globe, went on to major success, developing a wealth of expertise and eventually buying out its parent company in 1976.

Tyco Laboratories, which had originally been founded as a public research organisation, acquired the firm during a period of strategic expansion during the 1980s. So began a transformation that would culminate in the fire and security giant of today, as Tyco International (as the company became known) built on Wormald’s industry-leading knowledge to serve the changing needs of the oil and gas industry.

Fire and water: industry challenges

Throughout its long life Tyco has seen numerous changes in the industry. Fire prevention is never static in such a high-pressure sector and the company has reacted flexibly to major transformations wherever they happen.

The Piper Alpha disaster, for example, rightly prompted a rigorous rework of the industry’s regulatory framework, pushing operators and suppliers alike to redesign their safety processes to ensure risk on board is as low as reasonably practicable. Even on a relatively small level regulatory changes have pushed suppliers towards measures such as the introduction of closed-circuit hydraulics to avoid the discharge of fluids into the sea, requiring a major safety system redesign. In the last twenty years particularly, the ongoing search for new reserves has pushed the industry into ever more difficult locations and conditions - testing its fire protection to the limit.

The conditions on board oil rigs have also changed massively with developments in technology. From the early days of the Tyco family there’s been a continuing need for innovation in fire safety. Offshore platforms are undergoing a major reduction in personnel, partly as a result of dropping profits amidst the oil price crash. These changes mean that fire detection and suppression systems must operate more efficiently and automatically with less supervision. Tyco has been at the forefront of these changes, using its long heritage in the sector to provide the best solution for evolving requirements.

Finally, the future growth of the oil and gas sector is set to compound the difficulties to the fire and security industry. Platforms are increasingly being commissioned for longer lifespans and older installations are being extended to maximise cost-efficiency - so on-board fire suppression technology needs to be future-proof, resilient and self-sustaining. Enhancements to fire suppression technology will be essential in making rig life extension sustainable and safe. Tyco is perfectly placed to provide not only the hardware required, but also to incorporate innovative solutions and service structures which can help operators get the most out of their safety budget without compromising on quality.

Tyco – bridging the gap

As the industry has evolved, so has Tyco - from fire suppression sprinklers in 1870 to high-tech fire detection in the 1990s, the company has remained at the cutting edge of technology.

In the present day, Tyco provides a comprehensive range of products and services to help shipping companies, navies, fuel transporters and commercial lines to effectively protect their staff and assets. Take a look at the areas it now operates in - the culmination of over a century of development.

Fire protection

Tyco can arrange the installation of suppression systems to help combat every type of on-board fire, from dry chemical powder and CO2 for in-hand fire extinguishing to deluge, deck foam and local area watermist for automated wide-reach suppression. Tyco is a specialist in gas- and fluid-distribution extinguishing systems for oil fires, and can provide tailor-made, non-hazardous solutions to suit the individual application.

Life safety

Staff safety is a major priority across the industry and Tyco has decades of experience providing personal and general equipment to keep crew protected in the event of a fire. This ranges from gas detection and personal breathing devices for crew members to general alarms and emergency shutdown systems, as well as on-board hospital and healthcare resources.


Once a fire or security incident has been verified Tyco provides the necessary networking of audio, video and data signals to alert passengers, communicate with staff and record information for future analysis. This includes general alarm systems with speech intelligibility evaluation to ensure urgent messages are received loud and clear.

Integrated service

Tyco operates a unique integrated servicing model, dispatching a single highly trained, multi-disciplined maintenance operative to provide support for several systems at once - for example, deluge, detection and alarms. This innovative approach can help to reduce costs by combining offshore visits to save duplication of engineering support, with a single management fee across all disciplines and consolidation of tooling deliveries – ensuring that significant savings can be generated without compromising compliance, safety reliability and customer service.

Total service

The offshore environment is dangerous and challenging. It takes a company with a deep, well-rooted understanding of the unique issues faced by platform operators to provide the necessary protection. In a constantly hazardous and difficult environment, Tyco is the premier choice for everything from fire protection and video surveillance to gas detection and life-protection equipment.

Whatever the need, however challenging the environment and no matter how remote the location, Tyco has the specialist tools and expertise to keep platforms, staff and assets safe. Without sufficient protection all are at serious risk - now is the time for managers to review their processes and ensure their installations can withstand the unique dangers of fire at sea.

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