Extinguishers - Expert Commentary

Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic
Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic

There have been challenges with completing fire safety maintenance and installation projects during the current Covid-19 crisis, most notably as a result of the difficulties for installers in safely accessing sites. Many construction projects halted for lockdown and this resulted in approximately 50% of the British installers we work with having to furlough staff. The challenges, however, are not just restricted to the UK. With Kentec panels sold in more than 90 countries across the world, we have seen varying challenges on a global scale. Throughout this crisis, fire safety continues to be paramount and as such key players, such as Kentec, are rightly considered essential businesses. We have continued manufacturing life safety systems throughout the current difficulties and it has been our mission to ensure that where new installations can take place, our panels are readily available to installers, as well as the expertise and technical support that goes with it for ongoing maintenance. Orders for spare parts have also, in fact, been consistently high during this period, as installers have been able to complete minor upgrades safely and end users have taken advantage of the period to do so. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines so that customers have not experienced any supply issues with any life safety systems or parts has been a major success. Critical Infrastructure We’ve personally seen an increase in sales for our industry-leading Sigma XT extinguishant panels during this crisis as it is widely used within critical infrastructure, in sectors such as telecommunications, data centres and healthcare. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines has been a major success During lockdown, with a vast proportion of the population working from home and relying on the internet to conduct their business and virtual meetings, it has been more important than ever that there is no loss in service in broadband and telephone services. This means that highly reliable and robust fire extinguishing systems are essential to protect essential workers and vital equipment – not only from the risk of fire, but also from the catastrophic damage that false alarms and the release of extinguishant could have, for example, on server room equipment. Understandably, this has resulted in considerable investment in fire systems in these sectors. Glasgow’s Louisa Jordan NHS Facility The recent fire safety installation at the Louisa Jordan NHS Facility Glasgow – located at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which provides more than 500 COVID-19 beds – is just one example of essential fire safety work being completed during lockdown. Vipond Fire Protection Ltd installed a total of seven Sigma XT gas suppression panels, and 32 detectors located within the electrical room that serves the 10,000m2 facility. The project was completed in what was an extremely tight seven-day turnaround, delivering proven reliability within a crucial healthcare facility. Kentec's Experience Operating Through Covid-19 We have learned that operating through this crisis and supporting installations that are going ahead is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration. For example, we’re supporting our distributors by shipping directly to their customers, when it is not safe or feasible to open their warehouses. Operating through this crisis is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration Our own workforce is also adapting to changing work patterns and demands. In the factory, at a practical level, this has meant implementing new shifts schedules starting from six o’clock in the morning to ten o’clock at night to ensure there are never too many people on site at one time. We have staggered arrival, leaving and break times to mitigate any risks involved at entrances, and we were lucky that space allowed us to make the canteen area bigger and increase the number of toilets from three to ten. We have moved work benches to ensure a safe distance between each employee, and where workflows make two-metre distancing impossible we have installed six- and eight-foot screens. Face masks have been provided to all staff and we are also trialling face shields for further comfort and protection. Our office staff have worked from home, and where going to the office has been necessary, they have similarly adhered to staggered arrival times. Internal communication has been essential and I’m immensely proud and extremely thankful for the positivity, proactivity and support that employees have shown through this process.     We have also adapted our Kentec Installation Partner (KIP) scheme to be fully remote to ensure training and support is there when it is needed for our installers. We are hosting webinars as another forum to solve installer queries remotely, and our new range of Taktis panels have highly advanced networking capabilities and a vast suite of communication tools that support remote monitoring. It is therefore critical that our installers fully understand how to help end users realise the benefits such panels can deliver and to ensure their installations are completed successfully. Looking Ahead To The New Normal Remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis We feel that remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis and the advanced communication capabilities of panels will be essential for both installers and end users alike. For installers it reduces the amount of time required on site, because they can access the system remotely to find out what equipment or parts they need to take with them. Similarly, for end users they can access systems remotely to check any alerts or queries off site if necessary. It remains to be seen how the rest of 2020 will pan out, but where projects have been necessarily put on hold, because of the essential nature of our industry we are confident that installers will be able to quickly and easily return to these projects when it is safe and feasible to do so. Communication, collaboration and support will continue to be essential in mitigating the challenges in our future ‘new normal.’

Fire Safety In Subsurface Environments
Fire Safety In Subsurface Environments

  Fire safety in road or rail tunnels is critical in avoiding potentially disastrous incidents Roger Wilton, Assistant Technical Manager of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), explains the challenges of preventing underground fires. Fires in tunnels tend to make headline news, largely because of the potential loss of life that such an incident presents. At the turn of the new millennium three catastrophic fires in as many years ensured that tunnel protection became a real focus on the fire safety agenda. In 1999 the Mont Blanc tunnel fire, probably the most well known of the three, resulted in 39 deaths when a Belgian transport truck caught fire, resulting in temperatures of 1,000°C and taking some five days to cool sufficiently for crews to enter the tunnel to begin three years of repairs and significant enhancements of the safety equipment and procedures. This was followed in November 2000 by the Austrian Kaprun funicular tunnel fire which killed some 155 people as they headed for the pistes in a popular ski area some 350 kilometres to the west of Vienna.  Then, in October 2001, the St Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland, the third longest road tunnel in the world, saw two lorries collide to create a fire that killed eleven people. Tunnel fires have, of course, occurred before and since but three such major incidents in such a short timeframe highlighted very clearly the dangers of tunnel fires and the need to recognise the specific challenges that tunnels present in terms of fire safety engineering. When construction work is undertaken in an underground location, the project plan for safety and in particular fire safety needs to address the extra risks associated with work in an area that, by definition, will have limited means of escape. The area will inevitably be one in which ventilation will be restricted. Lighting will also be a prime consideration. Risk Assessment A comprehensive and dynamic fire risk assessment document is essential for creating a successful fire safety strategy   Managing an emergency successfully is a matter of planning, having the correct equipment in place and employing an effective maintenance programme to ensure that the equipment works when required. The first essential is a risk assessment undertaken by a competent person. Particularly during the construction phase of a project, the risk assessment needs to be a dynamic working document that changes as the work progresses. The ownership and authorship of said document needs to be one of the project manager’s prime tasks. It should link to a project fire and safety strategy document that indicates how the risks identified are being managed and how the process for emergencies are to be handled. For example, if a risk from mechanical plant operating in the underground location is identified, the strategy may require that a mechanical plant containing volatile fuel or gas be fitted with an automatic fire suppression system and that during operation a specified number and type of portable fire extinguishers be available. The strategy document may also require that persons operating the equipment undertake specific training on the use of fire extinguishers. Fire risk and fire strategy are the tools of the trade for driving down financial loss and reducing project delay. A fire risk assessment follows a logical pattern Identify fire hazards Identify people particularly at risk Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risks Record, plan, instruct, inform and train Review the plan Specific fire risks in construction work underground are determined on each site. However, all such work will need to consider the following when producing a proposed fire strategy: Difficulties in providing means of escape. Enclosed environment ventilation issues. Access for emergency services.   Whilst tunnels are constructed, fire hazards must be identified and correct fire safety measures taken During a construction project the first requirement of the risk assessment is to identify the fire hazards. This may be one of the most challenging problems as identifying what will burn and is potential ignition risk is linked to use and the experience of the user. The hazards will change as the construction progresses. The risk will increase as initial construction gives way to first and second fix. The materials used in construction are often delivered in flammable packing to prevent transit damage. A management process for safe storage and for efficient removal of packaging materials is required. The need for fire extinguishers suitable for Class A fires (those involving solid materials, such as paper wood or textiles) is apparent. The construction programme can be part of the risk control programme. For example, the completion of enclosed stair routes before other work proceeds can help address safe escape routes. Early provision of a ventilation system will assist in control of the environment to allow escape. Control of the area by a ‘permit to work’ system and a temporary fire alarm system can assist in the risk reduction process. All of the above underlines my assertion that the risk assessment needs to be a dynamic working document that changes as the work progresses. The fire protection of an area can be enhanced by using heat or smoke detection. The services that a tunnel normally carries can form part of the detection. For example, fibre optic cables can form the sensor for a linear heat detection system that can provide precise location information. As with many fire situations, providing warning at the earliest possible point is the goal and identifying the source of a fire is a significant factor in this process. CCTV systems can also provide a smoke detection output as well as supplying video information. From construction to use Once the construction phase is complete the elements of the operation of a tunnel need to be built into the equation. The risk and the fire load - that is the amount of combustible material in the area or passing through - need to be recognised and the fire protection measures employed accordingly. The requirement for fire fighting systems and the location of portable fire extinguishers will depend on the use to which the structure will be put. If personnel are normally located within a given area of the tunnel, the system to alert them to potential danger needs careful consideration. The variety and versatility of voice and message sounders is an important factor here, with voice-based messaging increasingly being used to provide a precise instruction for an evacuation that is not available from a purely tone-based sounder. Rising to the challenge   Both Europe and the USA are conducting ongoing research into methods of more effectively reducing the threat of underground tunnel fires Tunnels provide their own unique fire safety challenges, whether during the construction phase or when the tunnel is actually in use. This article has only scratched the surface of what needs to be considered. Extensive research is ongoing, both in Europe and in the USA, to find methods of further reducing the threat of fire. This is not only in terms of fire prevention, testing the relative strengths and, importantly, the weaknesses of different fire detection technologies, but also in providing the means for safe evacuation to prevent the tragic loss of life which the three incidents highlighted at the outset demonstrate only too well. Roger Wilton - Assistant Technical Manager - Fire Industry Association (FIA)

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International VdS Conference “Fire Protection Systems” Held In Romania Is Ready To Be Downloaded As PDF-File
International VdS Conference “Fire Protection Systems” Held In Romania Is Ready To Be Downloaded As PDF-File

The program of the second international VdS-conference on fire protection systems, April 29th, 2020 in Bucharest (Romania), can now be downloaded as PDF-file from their official website. At the conference, international experts from industry and fire protection organizations will present an overview on current technology and developments as well as numerous solutions based on practical experience. Automatic fire protection systems The participants can look forward to the following topics: Automatic fire protection systems from the point of view of fire brigades Sprinkler systems: New developments in the guidelines VdS CEA 4001 for planning and installation Major fire and reconstruction of a medium-sized sawmill Operational readiness of water extinguishing systems Automatic water extinguishing systems from view of installer Planning and installation of water mist systems Water mist protection of an underground mass transport system current solutions In addition there will be an exhibition at the conference site where international companies will present their current solutions, among them Siemens, Salzgitter Mannesmann, Viking and FireDos. At the evening of April 28th a get-together with possibilities to visit the exhibition takes place. The conference will be held in cooperation with ROFMA, the Romanian Facility Management Association. Conference languages are Romanian and English with simultaneous translation.

Motorola Solutions To Exhibit Advanced Mission-Critical Communications Solutions At Critical Communications World 2019
Motorola Solutions To Exhibit Advanced Mission-Critical Communications Solutions At Critical Communications World 2019

Motorola Solutions will demonstrate how its advanced, mission-critical solutions enable public safety and enterprise organizations to overcome their most complex challenges at Critical Communications World 2019 (June 18-20, MITEC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, booth G30). At CCW 2019, Motorola Solutions will showcase a comprehensive set of innovations spanning mission-critical communications, command center software, video security solutions and managed and support services. Mission-critical communications Mission-critical communications are essential to maintaining safety and security for our communities Mission-critical communications are essential to maintaining safety and security for our communities, from daily operations to extreme events including disaster recovery. These solutions are essential for the Asia Pacific region, as evidenced by a United Nations report estimating that economic losses from natural disasters could reach USD$160 billion annually by 2030. Organizations also demand new solutions to augment voice communication with the unprecedented volumes of data and video available today. To address this need, Motorola Solutions has brought together a comprehensive, integrated mission-critical ecosystem of technologies comprising: Mission-Critical Communications: Including the TLK100 and LEX L11 LTE devices that show what is possible over LTE networks and the ultra-portable LXN505 public safety LTE infrastructure system. Command Centre Software: To streamline and simplify daily workflows including CommandCentral Aware, the world’s only unified, proven, end-to-end public safety applications suite. Video Security Solutions: Including the latest from Avigilon’s video security and analytics portfolio including the H4 Thermal camera with self-learning video analytics. Managed & Support Services: To enable customers to focus on their mission while staying ahead of cybersecurity threats. Access to accurate data Having access to the right data enables organizations to make fast and accurate decisions on valuable resources' placement" “Having access to the right data enables organizations to make fast and accurate decisions about where to place their valuable resources, which work to prioritize and how to prepare for their most challenging events,” Motorola Solutions corporate vice president, Mike deVente, said. “The mission-critical ecosystem we are demonstrating at CCW draws on our 90 year heritage of innovation and our strong understanding of customers’ daily operational needs,” he said. Critical Communications World 2019 At CCW 2019, commercial customers in the transportation, energy and utilities segments will also learn how Motorola Solutions’ mission-critical ecosystem and the innovations in critical communications can be customized to meet their needs. One recent example of this is Motorola Solutions’ successful integration work with Siemens to achieve railway signaling over TETRA networks to European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 standards.

Tema Sistemi And Siemens Announce Fibrolaser III Fire Detection And Protection System Storage Tanks
Tema Sistemi And Siemens Announce Fibrolaser III Fire Detection And Protection System Storage Tanks

In the oil sector, one of the elements most exposed to the danger of fire is represented by the hydrocarbon storage tanks. The best protection of these environments and preventing the risk of fire is fundamental in order to avoid environmental and economic disasters. Fast detection of fire In this sense, the fire detection system plays a fundamental role since it is the only strategic tool that allows one to activate the safety measures necessary for fire control in the shortest possible time. The collaboration between Tema Sistemi and Siemens has brought new technologies to the service of detection systems for the protection of tanks through the fiber optic sensor cable (Fibrolaser III from Siemens), device completely immune to electromagnetic and electrostatic interference, suitable for installation in ATEX areas. Unlike traditional systems with heat-sensitive cable, the detection systems with fiber optic cable allow one to take a predictive action against the fire: the detection of the outbreak occurs in the incipient phase since the system also intervenes by increasing the thermal gradient (set via software based on the protection to be applied). Activation of fire countermeasures These systems are able to locate the fire in a timely manner, identify its direction and categorize its dimensions, making it possible to adapt the countermeasures to be activated. All this can be integrated into a Management System / SCADA which allows the temperature to be displayed and monitored along the entire protected area. Furthermore, following a fire alarm, the sensor cable can be reset, restoring its efficiency and functionality without the need for repair.

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