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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 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)
Autronica, a United Technologies owned fire safety and security company, has announced the release of AutroSense Cascade, a scalable aspirating smoke detection solution that makes installation easier, maintenance quicker, and takes applications further than traditional air sampling detectors. AutroSense Cascade An AutroSense Cascade system consists of two basic module types: Display module – provides control and monitoring of detector modules Detector module – draws air from the risk area and samples it for smoke particles Up to eight detector modules can be controlled and monitored via one display module with each detector module capable of serving up to 250 m of combined sampling pipe. Display and detector module combinations are known as a cluster with devices in the cluster communicating via RS485 Display and detector modules Display and detector module combinations are known as a cluster with devices in the cluster communicating via RS485. This unique modular design allows for clusters to be non-distributed or distributed giving significant design advantages such as maximizing pipework coverage and reduced transport times. AutroSense Cascade is not just about efficient and flexible system design, it also excels with simple user controls, detailed display information, connectivity and easy maintenance. From the designer through to the end user, AutroSense Cascade provides benefits for everyone. Integrated with ClassiFire and waste gate technology AutroSense Cascade embraces exciting new design aspects integrated with proven features and technologies, such as ClassiFire and waste gate technology. Whether it’s providing early warning detection within a clean room environment or providing a problem solving solution for harsh or unusual applications, AutroSense Cascade excels to provide a robust and reliable aspirating smoke detection solution. Autronica is a renowned innovator, manufacturer and supplier of fire and gas safety worldwide. Their products ensure safety in applications on land, sea and in the petrochemical, oil and gas sectors.
Carrier’s fire safety brands will display their extensive fire detection and suppression solutions at NFPA 2019, June 17 – 19 in San Antonio, Texas. On display in booth #1437 will be a wide range of fire products and systems that protect residential, commercial, institutional and light to heavy industrial areas in multiple applications, including oil & gas, power generation, data centers, automotive, hospitality, campus, marine and food and beverage. Carrier is a global provider of innovative heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration, fire, security and building automation technologies. fire and gas safety systems The brands offer a variety of products from industrial fire extinguishers, clean agent suppression systems and water mist suppression systems to smoke and carbon dioxide (CO2) detectors and fire alarm signals and systems to certified hazardous-area fire and gas safety systems. Det-Tronics and Autronica are marking 20 years of working together during which the two brands have provided fire and gas safety solutions to the petrochemical, oil and gas industry worldwide. Det-Tronics will showcase products for new applications and announce the expanded capability of its X3302 hydrogen multispectrum flame detector. Autronica will exhibit its AutroSafe IFP addressable system, at NFPA for the first time Det-Tronics will also present, “Exploring the Requirements for Warning and Mitigation Using a Fixed Gas Detection System,” a paper about how the NFPA 72 compliant, certified SIL 2-capable Det-Tronics Eagle Quantum Premier flame and gas safety system can provide the critical function of warning, containing and mitigating in an approved fixed gas detection system. commercial fire extinguishers Autronica will exhibit its AutroSafe IFP addressable system, at NFPA for the first time. Edwards, a provider of alarm, mass notification and hazard warning, will present their new UL268 7th Edition Compliant Signature Optica Series smoke detector and will introduce EST4, an advanced networked fire alarm and emergency communications platform. Kidde Fire Safety, the first smoke alarm manufacturer to receive certification to the new UL Standard for Smoke Alarms, set to take effect in May of 2020, will be displaying these smoke alarms, as well their full suite of residential and commercial fire extinguishers. Marioff, a pioneer of water mist fire protection technology, will present the benefits and broad applications of its HI-FOG water mist systems, including FM Approved HI-FOG solutions for data centers and food industries, and certified solutions for the automotive industry. chemical fire suppression systems Badger, manufacturer of wet and dry chemical fire suppression systems as well as industrial fire extinguishers, will showcase its range of capabilities. Kidde Fire Systems will display its wide range of clean agent, CO2 and wet and dry chemical special hazard fire detection and suppression solutions for protecting highvalue assets and business continuity in industrial and commercial applications.
At insulation manufacturer Glava, they manage high risk and high production volumes. Hence, they are dependent on an efficient fire detection system. Here, they tell us why they chose Autronica. 60 tons of melted glass, and temperatures up to 1300 degrees Celsius: At the Glava manufacturing plant in the Norwegian town of Stjørdal, the production runs non-stop. The temperature is high when shattered glass is molten and spun into insulation, and the consequences of an incident in the smelting plant are enormous. In the afternoon, evening and night, staffing is limited to a minimum. Only four people keep the 3500 square meters of factory under surveillance. Thanks to solid fire detection, they all know they are safe regardless. However, not long ago they experienced a completely different situation altogether. Catastrophic fire at Glava manufacturing plant "In the 90s, the Glava manufacturing plant and headquarters in Askim suffered a major cable fire, where a grand total of 600 kilometers of cable was destroyed by fire. Production was halted for weeks, and 60-70 electricians were hired to fix the problem. If we had had early warning in case of overheating, we could have saved several millions Norwegian Kroner," said Helge Bakken, an electrical engineer working in the Glava manufacturing plant since 1996. He talks about vast amounts of inflammable materials on the premises. "Glava is a large manufacturing plant with lots of machinery, and we are bordering on the limit of what we can keep our eyes on." Efficient fire detection system With Autronica’s solution we have a complete overview form the screens in the control room" Helge added, "When we rebuilt the Stjørdal factory in 2014, we wanted to install a proper fire detection system. We asked for tenders from a wide range of suppliers, and I feared that Autronica would be too expensive. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out they weren’t the most expensive supplier by far. Additionally, the quality and service were far superior to any of the others. And of course, it was a bonus that they are a Norwegian company, and that most of the equipment is manufactured at their headquarters in Trondheim." Fire alarms and emergency lighting "With Autronica’s solution we have a complete overview form the screens in the control room. Graphical sectionalizations show where the alarm is triggered, and we get an early indication of heat generation. With the help of statistics, we quickly see what the normal temperature is. If there is a real emergency, the emergency light system will multiply the chance of evacuating the employees. There are few fault messages, and everyone here takes any alarm seriously," says fire safety manager, Håvard Sesseng.