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Avoiding Electrical Fires Through Preventative Technology
Avoiding Electrical Fires Through Preventative Technology

There are many daily risks faced by buildings and their managers, with electrical fires being one of the most common and dangerous. Commercial fires impact occupant health, property and the business itself – with 25% of businesses who suffer a fire never reopening.  Given the often-unpredictable nature of electrical fires, businesses must invest in the latest technologies to prevent irreparable damage. It is the responsibility of the consultant engineer to show leadership and initiative in improving safety to protect the business, its employees and its most valuable assets. Engineers must look beyond simply tackling overloads and short circuits and examine a range of connected solutions that can stop a fire before it even has a chance to begin. This drastically reduces the cost of damages and repairs, while giving building operators unrivalled visibility. Connected protection is crucial at every level of the circuit, from the switchboard to distribution. A centralized system for equipment monitoring and detection provides building managers with all the information they need to keep fire risk under control, and therefore protect staff, property and business. Electrical fire risk awareness During the design and implementation phase, the consultant engineer’s role is traditionally to respect and master the local standards. They should ensure all components and parts of the circuit comply with the latest wiring rules, electrical and building codes. Yet for enhanced safety they should also be willing to look beyond the standards of the day. Given the often-unpredictable nature of electrical fires, businesses must invest in the latest technologies to prevent irreparable damage Today’s regulations do a good job of protecting buildings from the dangers of short circuits and overloads, mostly by mandating the use of circuit breakers. However, consultant engineers should also be aware of the risks posed by circuit deterioration and mistakes made during the installation. Loose cabling and faulty insulation or connections – even something as small as an untightened screw – can significantly increase a circuit’s fire risk. It’s up to consultant engineers to know their market and provide solutions that go beyond the minimum to detect and prevent electrical fires. Why electrical engineers must go the extra mile A stitch in time saves nine. While tackling overloads and short circuits is crucial, engineers must go further, examining a range of connected solutions that can stop a fire before it even has a chance to begin. Acting pre-emptively can drastically reduce the cost of damages and repairs and provide building operators with unrivalled visibility of their facility. Connected protection is crucial at every level of the circuit, from the switchboard to distribution. A centralized system for equipment monitoring and detection will provide the building manager with all the information they need to keep fire risk under control. Connected protection is crucial at every level of the circuit For optimal protection, organisations should employ smart, connected solutions that detect fire and the risk of fire at every level. This means additional protection for the switchboard and the circuit at all levels of the electrical installation, underpinned by a centralised system for monitoring and pro-active action. Using Residual Current Devices (RCDs) against insulation faults triggered by earth leakage currents exceeding 300mA, is a familiar solution. Engineers now have access to more effective earth leakage protection solutions with the same footprint as a classical overload and short-circuit protection. Products can now also offer permanent earth leakage current measurement which, when connected to a monitoring system, allows pre-alarming and monitoring during the time of any drift in the insulation. Identify switchboard vulnerabilities Unprotected electrical switchboards are especially vulnerable to fire risk. The equipment is susceptible to rodent infestation and internal overheating, issues that can often go unnoticed until it is too late. The IEC 61439-2 Low-voltage switchgear and control gear assemblies – Part 2: Power switchgear and control gear assembly’s standard addresses these risks, making compliance a must. However, fulfilling these design and manufacturing rules for switchboards does not eliminate the risk of connection failure. A critical sequence of events can occur. First, increasing electrical contact resistance accelerates further deterioration. This increased resistance induces a rise in temperature – high temperatures deteriorate the connection surface even more. The more deteriorated surface leads to a further increase in contact resistance, and the resulting thermal runaway will cause complete connection failure. Fire, flash-over and explosions become a real risk. Enhanced electrical fire prevention Moreover, final circuits should be protected by an arc fault detection device (AFDD) for enhanced fire prevention. Final circuits should be protected by an arc fault detection device (AFDD) Circuits age unevenly and unpredictably, so persistent monitoring and predictive maintenance are key to limiting fire risk. Cloud analytics can help provide asset health analytics to interpret the status and history of your most critical assets, with preventive notifications and 24/7 support. Fire prevention must be a top priority when assessing all the safety and risk-management of a building. In the case of electrical fires, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, establishing the right approach before crisis strikes will be invaluable. Connected solutions across the entire circuit are an effective solution for consultant engineers to defend buildings from the often-underestimated dangers of faulty installation and ageing components. In short, smart electrical fire prevention provides peace of mind for engineers, facility owners and occupants alike.

Fire Detection: Protecting Food And Grocery Stores
Fire Detection: Protecting Food And Grocery Stores

During these challenging times, it is more important than ever to protect the supply chain of food, including supermarkets and convenience stores in cities around the world. On average 3,740 fires occur in food and groceries stores in the US annually, including supermarkets and convenience stores, according to a report published by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Structure fires in mercantile properties were responsible for the loss of 12 lives and more than $600 million indirect property damages, and this doesn’t account for the cost of business interruption and the effect on the reputation of the store. Many stores haven’t been able to recover after a fire. The report estimates that a single fire may cost $46,000 on average, which in hindsight is considerably higher than investing in a fire detection system. The most common causes of fire in supermarkets It’s important to look at the data from two different perspectives. The first is the number of fires by cause, and the other is to quantify the property loss by cause. The report estimates that a single fire may cost $46,000 on average Fires caused by cooking equipment , including stores with kitchens and warming and portable equipment, account for 21% of incidences, but only for just 7% of total property damage and four civilian deaths (firefighter and first responder deaths are registered on a different report). On the other hand, electrical distribution and lighting equipment malfunctions and defective wiring account for 15% of the total of fires in a given year, but caused $165 million in property loss, or 27% of the total recorded on the report. It is also important to mention that intentional fires are the third cause reported, accounting for 11% of the total fire incidences and 20% of the property loss highlighted in the report. Occupation, materials and risks The kind of store poses a significant variety of risks associated to the type of occupation, the number of occupants and the materials stored and available in the shopping areas. It’s possible to find combustible materials of diverse nature and propagation speed. Cardboard and paper wrapping can be found in all store areas, including book and magazine stands. Cleaning products, oils and fatty products might have a high propagation speed. All of this, surrounded by different kind of plastics, immensely increase the level of risk. Overall, combustible liquids caused 41% of the civilian deaths recorded during the report In my firefighting years I’ve responded to several fires in food supermarkets and distribution centers, and saw tuna cans (canned with oil) exploding and spreading flames to the surrounding areas. Regarding occupation, it is known that supermarkets and groceries stores are places with high levels of occupation, especially during working hours. But one interesting fact that the report found is that fires occurring between 9pm and 5am can cause, on average, $73,800 in property damage. The NFPA estimates that 21% of human life losses happened between 12am and 3am. This highlights the importance of installing and maintaining an automatic fire detection system. Installing fire detection And Protecting Your Store With the variety of materials and the risk level that can be found in this kind of environment, it’s necessary to take a holistic approach. Fire protection should be designed while considering several angles, from passive protection in all interior and exterior structures and cladding to active protection with sprinkler and clean agent systems, proper ventilation and smoke control and automatic fire detection and evacuation systems. On average 3,740 fires occur in food and groceries stores in the US annually Several detection technologies need to work in parallel, depending on the type of products stored, the environment and the expected level of occupation on the protected area. Store height and ventilation need to be taken into consideration and also the kind of lighting in some cases. Depending on the ceiling height, the shopping floor could be protected with beam smoke detectors. If the ceiling is below six meters, or the store shelves obstruct the beam, it’s possible to use spot type smoke detectors. The same approach can be taken for warehousing and storage areas, but here I would recommend multi-criteria detectors, with heat and smoke detection combined. localized protection As I’ve mentioned before, cooking areas have an increased level of risk, which calls for localized protection. Here, I would recommend multi-criteria (smoke/heat) detectors for areas where food is heated and served, and smoke/heat/Carbon monoxide detectors on cooking areas to avoid nuisance alarms caused by cooking smoke and steam. It’s important to mention that until this year it was possible to install heat detection in cooking areas, but the UL 268 7th edition that comes into effect in 2021 will require cooking areas to be protected with smoke detection, and smoke detectors have to be able to reject nuisance alarms caused by cooking smoke and steam. Smaller supermarkets and convenience stores usually have vertical freezers or horizontal open freezers. Here, electrical and mechanical failures can ignite fires, which is why it is important to protect the rear side of the freezers. I would recommend point-type smoke detectors, as photoelectric smoke detectors tend to perform better on smoldering fires. The report mentions that air conditioning equipment and electrical equipment can be sources of ignition as well. To protect A/C rooms and electrical rooms I would recommend combined smoke/heat detectors, or maybe even smoke/heat/CO to assure better detection and avoid unwanted alarms in these business critical areas. There is a type of photoelectric smoke detector that uses two different LED sources inside the smoke chamber. This technology, called Dual-Ray, allows the smoke detector to identify the particles inside the chamber by size. The detector knows if it is sensing dust or steam, and can even differentiate between cooking or cigarette smoke from actual smoke from a smoldering fire. Bosch Building Technologies first introduced dual Ray technology in 2015. protecting the food supply chain During these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to protect the food supply chain and avoid the social and economic impact of fires in food stores, especially in impoverished areas. Supermarkets and convenience stores present a variety of challenges regarding fire protection, which calls for a holistic approach where passive and active protection are equally important. To achieve this target, one key element is automatic fire detection. Smoke and heat sensing technologies must be combined, and one size-fits-all approach is not enough. Detection and effective evacuation are critical to protect lives and minimize property loss.

Fire Safety & Building Safety Bills Not To be Overlooked During Pandemic
Fire Safety & Building Safety Bills Not To be Overlooked During Pandemic

The fire industry has made it absolutely clear, led by authorized bodies including the BAFE Fire Safety Register, that the current pandemic does not remove the need to comply with any fire safety requirements under the Building Regulations. As we now look beyond the lockdown period, John Allam, Operations Director at Amthal Fire and Security reviews the raft of new proposals demonstrating the Government and industry’s commitment to compliant fire safety and new immediate demands placed on responsible persons. Multi-Occupancy residential buildings Whilst the second phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been put on hold until July at the earliest over coronavirus restrictions, the government has continued its quest to effect change and bring the Fire Safety Bill and Building Safety Bill into legislation. While the Building Safety Bill will ‘place new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products’, both bills aim to strengthen the ‘whole regulatory system’ for both building and fire safety. The Fire Safety Bill will apply to England and Wales, to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005 and seeks to clarify responsibility for reducing fire risk in multi-occupancy residential buildings. The details of the Fire Safety Bill, which has now had its second reading in the House of Commons, includes recommendations of regular inspections of lifts and sprinkler systems for buildings over 11m tall. Quarterly fire door inspections Building owners will now face ‘enforcement action’ from emergency services if they do not manage fire risk Significantly, it also introduces compulsory quarterly fire door inspections, which is a hugely significant development in its own right, to influence an industry where this is no specific legislation that requires fire doors to be checked. The Fire Safety Bill intends to ensure evacuation plans are reviewed, regularly updated and communicated to residents in a ‘form that they can be reasonably be expected to understand.’ And it highlights the importance of individual flat entrance doors, where the external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards. This will play a key part in increasing residents’ fire safety, whereby building owners will now face ‘enforcement action’ from emergency services if they do not manage fire risk in a building’s structure. Improving the fire safety of buildings In addition, the government is consulting with the National Fire Chiefs Council to begin testing evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks of flats, which could support fire and rescue services’ operational response by alerting residents if they need to escape. The National Fire Chiefs Council to begin testing evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks of flats The new program will be governed by a Building Safety Regulator (BSR) that will initially be led by Dame Judith Hackitt during the set up phase, who will be tasked with improving the fire safety of buildings. Launched by The RT Hon Robert Jenrick MP Secretary Of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, he cited the new program as taking, “Ambitious steps to further reform the building safety system with the biggest changes in a generation to ensure residents are safe in their homes.” He added: “This new regime will put residents’ safety at its heart, and follows the announcement of the unprecedented £1 billion fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in the budget.” Major regulatory decisions The BSR will be responsible for all major regulatory decisions made at key points during design, construction, occupation and refurbishment of buildings. And such decisions and obligations must be upheld and maintained throughout a development’s life. The new safety case regime will apply not only to new buildings, but also to buildings that are already in use" In Dame Judith’s own words: “When introduced by the new regulator, the new safety case regime will apply not only to new buildings, but also to buildings that are already in use and occupied. If those buildings were built to poor standards in the past, it will not be the case that you can simply say ‘well it complied with building regulations at the time’. The test will be different. The test will be ‘is this building safe to be occupied?’ and, if not, what are you going to do to improve it?’ … People will be asked to think about what they can do, what is reasonable and what is practicable to do in order to improve the safety of a given building.” Regulating the fire safety industry Both Hackitt and the Government want the BSR to be set up in shadow form before the Building Safety Bill becomes law. The plan is to put the bill before Parliament by the autumn, despite the challenges thrown by the Pandemic. The new legislation proposed by Government will undoubtedly ensure that buildings and those that live and work in them are maintained to be fire safe. In the words of BAFE CEO Stephen Adams: “The time is right to help better regulate the fire safety industry to change end user behavior and create a UK that's safer from the devastating effects of fire.” As BAFE further attests, as lockdown measures begin to be lifted, there will be a need for the competent maintenance of fire safety systems/provisions and fire risk assessment work. Fire doors and risk assessments Amthal is working closely with building owners and managers across the UK to deliver the benefits of safer environment This means for those who own or manage residential buildings, will soon be ‘held into account’ if they do not ensure fire safety in their buildings, and the requirements will impact further on costs and resource allocation, for investigating buildings and ensuring compliance. There is a definite sense to be proactive in acceptance of the new impending legislation. But the concern cited amongst building owners is the industry’s ability to undertake the volume of assessments required, given the lack of current lack of specific legislation on specific elements such as fire doors and risk assessments, together with the steep expectations for fire strategy and evacuation plans. Amthal is working closely with building owners and managers across the UK to deliver the benefits of safer environment within a holistic fire safety approach. Working in partnership, means taking the time to understand the implications of the Government’s Fire Safety Bill, alongside the implications of the Building Safety Bill and BSR program. This way, we can ensure responsible persons confidently achieve all operational requirements for the ultimate benefit of residents’ peace of mind.

Latest Silent Knight news

Honeywell’s Addressable Fire Detection Devices Improve Protection For Modern Buildings
Honeywell’s Addressable Fire Detection Devices Improve Protection For Modern Buildings

The new line of addressable detectors includes photo, photo/thermal, and heat detectors, along with bases and accessories Honeywell, a pioneer in Connected Buildings, is helping customers get ahead of upcoming building code changes and improve fire detection through a new line of addressable smoke and heat detection devices available across all Honeywell Fire brands. The devices improve detection of fires involving synthetic materials that are commonly used in modern buildings, and offer improved system reliability against false alarms. In addition, these devices have been designed to meet new industry requirements that go into effect in the United States in 2020 – the UL 268 7th Edition standards – ensuring a smooth transition to the new codes. “Honeywell’s newest fire detection devices step up to the challenge of modern construction methods and codes with the latest technology in fire safety,” said Samir Jain, general manager for Fire Americas, Honeywell Home and Building Technologies. “Serving customers in more than 10 million buildings around the world, we were able to redesign our devices with an unwavering focus on customers and end users. Our products across all of our fire brands are easy to install and use with a lower cost of ownership without sacrificing safety.” Photo/thermal and heat detectors Whether it’s a photoelectric detector or more advanced multi-criteria solution, the Honeywell devices provide advanced features for fire or life safety systems So-called ‘addressable’ detectors connect to a fire alarm control panel and are assigned an address so responders can more easily locate the source of an alarm. The new line of addressable detectors includes photo, photo/thermal, and heat detectors, along with bases and accessories. Additional specialty detectors, including higher-sensitivity and combined carbon monoxide detectors, will be available in the coming months. Each spot-type detector is designed for ease-of-use, simple installation, and project flexibility. With varying base sizes, an expanded colour offering and modern design, the new line supports contemporary aesthetic needs to fit any environment. Whether it’s a photoelectric detector or more advanced multi-criteria solution, the Honeywell devices provide advanced features for fire or life safety systems. Beneficial to the small and medium sized facilities            Honeywell addressable smoke detectors and accessories can be used in commercial building spaces across the country including offices, hotels, schools, airports, hospitals, high rise, retail, stadiums, military buildings and more. Small- to medium-sized facilities can benefit from photo and heat detectors in a contemporary white colour to meet popular design demands. Diverse commercial environments can integrate broader offerings, like remote test capabilities in the ducts, heat detectors in furnace rooms, photo detection across the main building, high sensitivity for a server closet, and the wider system connection. The new line of smoke detection devices will be available across Honeywell Fire brands: NOTIFIER, Honeywell Gamewell-FCI, Honeywell Farenhyt, Honeywell Silent Knight and Fire-Lite Alarms.

Silent Knight Introduces SK-FIRE-CO Detector For Fire And Carbon Monoxide Detection
Silent Knight Introduces SK-FIRE-CO Detector For Fire And Carbon Monoxide Detection

Silent Knight’s SK-FIRE-CO replaces multiple devices, including a CO and a smoke detector, mini horn, monitor modules Silent Knight by Honeywell recently introduced a single detector that senses both fire and carbon monoxide (CO) and greatly reduces nuisance alarms. The SK-FIRE-CO Detector minimises parts and labour, equalling big cost reductions. It is also the only non-proprietary, addressable detector of its kind to be made readily available through Security Equipment Distributors nationwide, which ensures competitive pricing and readily available parts. “This detector will satisfy the new CO legislation many states are implementing for commercial properties, and save the owners a lot of money by eliminating the cost of separate devices that require additional junction boxes and wiring,” said Loren Schreiber, product marketing manager, Silent Knight. Currently, 40 states have CO detection requirements, which largely affect commercial sleeping spaces, such as hotels, dormitories, apartment complexes and nursing homes, for example. In addition, CO detection can be required for buildings with mechanical/boiler rooms, laundry rooms, gas fire places and any other facility containing fossil fuel-burning appliances. When compared to a typical installation of separate fire and CO sensors, the SK-FIRE-CO Detector and its compatible B200S Sounder Base, replaces multiple devices, including a CO detector, a smoke detector, a mini horn, monitor modules, three junction boxes and all of the wire associated with each. Utilising fewer devices within a space also gives a cleaner appearance. To satisfy both local and national fire alarm requirements, the SK-FIRE-CO Detector’s sounder base provides distinct tones for a fire versus a CO emergency. In response to customer requests, tones emitted from the B200S Sounder Base can also be synchronised to nearby horns. “When you have a fire alarm in a dorm or apartment, it’s important the sounder in your room synchronises with the temporal horns in the hallway as one consistent, clear tone, otherwise it can cause a lot of anxiety in the midst of an evacuation,” Schreiber explains.

Silent Knight By Honeywell Releases SK-F485C Wire To Fibre Converter For Its New And Existing Systems
Silent Knight By Honeywell Releases SK-F485C Wire To Fibre Converter For Its New And Existing Systems

SK-F485C is designed to allow new and existing Silent Knight systems to increase wire runs Silent Knight by Honeywell recently released the SK-F485C Wire to Fibre Converter, designed to allow new and existing Silent Knight systems to significantly increase wire runs between fire alarm control panels and power supplies, while providing a major boost in surge protection. Being the first wire to fibre converter to be UL listed for a non-proprietary line of fire alarm systems and sold over-the-counter at Security Equipment Wholesalers nationwide, allows Silent Knight to offer the ideal solution to large facilities and multi-building campuses seeking non-proprietary fire alarm systems. A fire alarm system run on copper wire underground, between buildings is incredibly susceptible to lightning damage due to earth ground differentials. The new fibre converter allows one Intelliknight addressable fire alarm control panel from Silent Knight to be extended over fibre-optic cable to protect multiple buildings while severely limiting the risk of damages from electrical surges. Covering longer distances over fibre allows Silent Knight systems to offer more economical and reliable fire protection to larger facilities such as warehouses and factories, as well as for multi-building projects, including K-12 schools, universities, corporate campuses, apartment buildings and assisted living complexes. The fibre converter offers a great solution for adding smaller, standalone buildings, such as maintenance sheds and guard shacks to a fire alarm system over fibre too. The adaptable design elements of Silent Knight systems enable them to provide a closer-fit to the fire protection needs of each facility, which can equal big savings in parts and labour. This has a positive effect on recurring fees too. Case-in-point, the costs associated with monitoring one control panel versus many are much less. “Flexibility in the design of its systems and minimisation of wire has been a continued focus for Silent Knight’s product development teams”, says Loren Schreiber, Product Marketing Manager for Silent Knight. “We’ve always been unique with ‘distributed intelligence’ built into power supplies and other s-bus devices to allow you to place them where needed, as opposed to home-running wire all the way back to the main control,” Schreiber explains. Silent Knight’s complete portfolio of IntelliKnight products are non-proprietary and sold through security equipment wholesalers throughout the U.S., which helps to ensure competitive pricing and readily available parts.

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