Fire Suppression System Accessories - Expert Commentary

Teledyne’s Handheld Laser Detects Explosive Methane From 100 Feet Away
Teledyne’s Handheld Laser Detects Explosive Methane From 100 Feet Away

A new handheld device can detect the presence of explosive methane gas from up to 100 feet away. For firefighters, the tool provides situational awareness, saves time, and ensures safety from a distance. Knowing the presence of methane gas enables a firefighter to deal with an emergency gas leak and to avoid a deadly explosion. Gas laser The Gas Laser from Teledyne Gas and Flame Detection can shoot a laser beam through a window, a gap in a door, or another common venting point to provide an instant reading of the amount of methane in an area up to 100 feet away. The laser is invisible, but a green-spot pointer guides the aim as a user “points and shoots.” The laser bounces off any reflective object and then analyses the parts per million (ppm) of methane gas per meter of distance along the path of the laser. It measures down to a threshold of 1.25 ppm/meter. The handheld device can also capture a video image and a GPS location in addition to the gas reading stored on the device. It can be connected via WiFi and/or Bluetooth to a smartphone or other device and has onboard data logging. The device is automatically calibrated and tested when it is returned to its case. Detects minute quantities of methane Gas laser detects a much smaller amount of methane than would be explosive, thus preventing explosions  “It’s a brand new device, and everybody wants it,” says Alan Skinner, Regional Manager, Portable Gas Detection for Teledyne Gas and Flame Detection. “Once they understand what it does, they want it. Now you don’t have to be inside a hazard to detect the hazard.” The Gas Laser detects a much smaller amount of methane than would be explosive, thus preventing explosions by addressing leaks early.  The lower explosive limit (LEL) for methane is 5 percent, the equivalent of 50,000 ppm, much higher than the measurement threshold of the Gas Laser. Previously, there was no entirely safe method of evaluating the gas concentration without being near an area, typically using a three-foot probe sensor, for example.  “Now they know what they are getting into before they enter,” says Skinner. “It saves a huge amount of time.” Understanding working of gas laser Getting the word out about the device has been a challenge given the continuing coronavirus pandemic and disruptions of the hurricane season. “It’s one of those products you have to show them and let them play with it to understand what it does,” says Skinner. Interest was high at the recent FDIC show, where Teledyne unveiled the new sensor alongside its broader range of gas detection sensors. Teledyne’s range of portable sensors traces its roots back to GM Instruments (GMI), founded in Scotland in 1947. The sensor company was involved in multiple mergers and acquisitions in recent years, including ownership by companies such as Battery Ventures, Tyco, Scott Instruments, Johnson Controls, and 3M. Two years ago, the product line was acquired by Teledyne and represents the portables segment of their Environmental Monitoring Division, which also includes Detcon, Simtronics, and Oldham. Protege ZM and PS200 sensor PS200 sensor measures levels of four gases – methane, oxygen, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide Another sensor among Teledyne’s range of handheld devices is the Protégé ZM, a carbon monoxide sensor that a fireman can clip to their helmet, pocket, or bag. The “disposable” device has a 24-month lifespan, requires zero maintenance, and provides a calibration and bump test. The PS200 sensor measures levels of four gases – methane, oxygen, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide. An internal pump extracts a sample before a firefighter enters a confined space. A charge, bump, and calibration station (ABC Station) ensures calibration on a weekly, monthly, or twice-yearly basis. PS500 and GT Fire sensor The PS500 model adds another sensor to the four – typically either a photoionization detector (PID) for volatile organic compounds such as benzene, or a hydrogen cyanide (HCN) sensor to measure the presence of carcinogenic compounds that can be a byproduct of burning vinyl or plastics. The PID sensor can help investigators detect propellants that might indicate arson. The GT Fire sensor detects explosive gases in the PPM/LEL ranges with optional CO, H2S, and O2 sensors. The device can sniff out small gas leaks before any LEL level is reached. Able to find leaks in the PPM range, the device can pinpoint exactly where gas is leaking.

Why Communication Breakthroughs Are Going to Be Crucial To A Healthy Post-Pandemic Fire Sector
Why Communication Breakthroughs Are Going to Be Crucial To A Healthy Post-Pandemic Fire Sector

Communication technology has always been a key area of innovation for a variety of sectors, but the emergency services sector, in particular, is one of those that stands to gain a great deal. Those operating in the fire sector typically operate in noisy, dangerous conditions where communication is essential but difficult. hands-free communication  From Bluetooth headsets to clunky hands-on radio systems, there have been a plethora of communication innovations in recent years designed to connect workers while keeping them safe and productive. Wearable, hands-free communication systems represent the latest frontier in this quest for safe communication Wearable, hands-free communication systems represent the latest frontier in this quest for safe, productive communication, and the pandemic has changed the communication game business of all shapes and sizes will be looking at ‘hands-free’ communication technology in a brand new light.  Since the onset of the pandemic, even the most hands-on workplaces have had to practice social distancing and mask-wearing, adding another layer of health and safety onto an already complex set of rules and regulations. Where workers might once have been able to share radios and other equipment, they now need to do what they can to stay apart and not cross-contaminate surfaces. That means working hard to limit contact with surfaces, and each other.  Critical communication in the fire sector If any sector is ready to lead the charge in terms of communication innovation, it’s the fire sector, which typically sees its workers operating in loud, hazardous environments, has been a driving force behind some of the greatest communication innovations of the past couple of decades and will continue to innovate to keep its workers safe and connected. According to some sources, the critical communications industry is growing at a rate of knots and will be worth more than $20 billion by 2028. That’s a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 10%, no doubt accelerated by the pandemic and our renewed focus on worker safety and the need for hands-free communication solutions.  Perhaps the best way to speculate about future breakthroughs and how they will materialize is to first look back at how the emergency services, hospitals, and other sectors, have pioneered the way teams communicate.  There have been countless communication breakthroughs over the years, but which ones have stood the test of time, and which ones are going to be most valuable to us as we emerge into a post-pandemic world?  ‘smart PPE’ and wearable communication technology Workers in a variety of settings were able to communicate completely hands-free without removing their PPE Wearable communication technology isn’t new by any means, but its adoption and innovation have certainly been accelerated since the pandemic. While front-line and mission-critical workers carried on throughout the pandemic, they still needed to adhere to social distancing guidelines wherever possible and that also meant limiting contact with surfaces and staying in PPE. Workplaces in other sectors, when they were able to go back to the office, also faced the same conundrum. Health and safety had changed and businesses needed to adapt accordingly. Their answer? Wearable communication technology in the form of ‘Smart PPE’. By incorporating comms technology into masks, helmets, visors, and overalls, workers in a variety of settings were able to communicate completely hands-free without removing their PPE, giving them complete freedom without compromising on safety. No more pulling off visors to fiddle with intercoms, or reaching for the bulky radio that’s been passed around from shift to shift. Smart PPE makes operating in hostile environments by giving them the ability to stay in touch with their co-workers without having to interface with anything physically or share personal devices.  Intelligent ‘active listening’ ear protectors Did you know that an estimated 22 million workers every year are exposed to potentially damaging levels of noise? The traditional solution would be to muffle the sound with ear guards, but that comes with its own set of problems. Communication is as much about listening as it is speaking. For workers in busy, loud, or dangerous environments, being able to hear what’s going on around you while also protecting your ears from potentially damaging sounds is crucial. Active listening headphones can protect workers from potentially damaging noises such as heavy machinery, but let through important sounds such as warning signals, radio communications, or the voices of their co-workers. That means instead of constantly taking protective ear guards on and off, or lifting a cup of the gear to hear a colleague yell something important, active listening headphones allow workers to stay alert and in-tune with their surroundings without putting their hearing at risk. Pioneering self-healing networks A perfect companion to ‘smart PPE’ but also an excellent technology in its own right, self-healing networks are designed for teams that are constantly on the move, from hospital staff to busy fire teams. They’re called ‘self-healing’ because of their ability to reconnect units that come back within range, and they stay connected even when one or more units drop off the network. Sectors like the emergency services are going to play a critical role in keeping those innovations coming A self-healing network is a cut above Bluetooth, which is typically unreliable with limited range and requires no base unit - allowing team members to roam far and wide and stay in touch so long as they’re in range. It facilitates ‘always on’ communication, meaning no need to push buttons to talk and can be voice-activated, so no member of staff has to come into contact with another or with any surface. While not invented since the pandemic, much like Smart PPE, its uptake has increased dramatically.  Communication breakthroughs have been central to health and safety for several years, but as we emerge into a so-called ‘new normal’ following the pandemic, sectors like the emergency services are going to play a critical role in keeping those innovations coming. 

Fire Prevention: A Cost And Opportunity Analysis
Fire Prevention: A Cost And Opportunity Analysis

As organizations start to plan for next year’s operating budget, it’s a good time to take a closer look at fire prevention, what’s its costing and the value it delivers. It’s the perfect time to look at the policies and procedures associated with fire prevention and look for areas of improvement and optimization. To help facilitate this discussion, I turned to the report put out by the Fire Protection Research Foundation in 2017, which explored the total cost of fire in the United States based on data collected from 1980 to 2014. Opportunities for improvement While I appreciate the data itself is a little dated, the report gives a great view of the actual cost of fires, where the priorities lie based on spend and highlights opportunities for improvement. The report defines the total cost of fire, as the collective of all net expenditure on fire protection and all net losses due to fire incidents. The report defines the total cost of fire, as the collective of all net expenditure on fire protection The good news is the hard work is paying off with losses only representing a fraction of the total costs, prevention at $273.1 billion (83.1% of total), and losses at $55.4 billion (16.9% of total). To help operators ask the right questions for planning and budgeting we dug into the data and identified 5 facts for your consideration in 2021/22. Investment in fire prevention Fact #1 The total cost of fires has increased by 50% over the 14-year period of the report, with the total losses decreasing by 47%, and the total expenditures increasing by 140.6%. Which tells me, fire prevention is a priority and worth the investment, it saves lives and therefore reduces overall loses. But it also highlights that the budget requirements are growing and likely to continue to grow. Therefore, it is more important than ever before that we protect the investment in fire prevention, understand and maximize it, which as many knows is easier said than done! So, ask yourself, do you have a clear understanding of your investment, tools, and resources needed to stay safe and prevent fires? Do you have the data necessary to identify opportunities for improvement? Are you exposing operations to unnecessary risk? Fire grade products The costs of meeting the required standards within the system are passed down to the buyer Fact #2, Expenditure on fire grade products represent 16% of total costs at $54 B. This is the ‘cost of meeting ‘fire grade’ standards in the manufacture of equipment, particularly electrical systems equipment and ‘smart’ equipment with its greater use of computer components.’ These systems represent a significant investment for the operation, the costs of meeting the required standards within the system are passed down to the buyer and defines the quality of the system. Therefore, the question is, are the systems being properly maintained to maximize life span and ensure it maintains its fire grade standard? Are you adhering with manufacturer warranty requirements, will it work when needed? Large ongoing investment Fact #3, Expenditure on fire maintenance and fire retardants represents 13.4% of total costs at $44 B. This includes the ‘costs of fire maintenance, which was defined to include system maintenance, industrial fire brigades, and training programs for occupational fire protection and fire safety.’ Expenditure on fire maintenance and fire retardants represents 13.4% of total costs at $44 B Fire Retardants include the ‘costs of fire retardants and all product testing associated with design for fire safety.’ This represents a large ongoing investment in resources and budget for operations, the question is, are they being used efficiently, are they adhering to regulations, is the training being done? Is the money being well spent? Investment in fire prevention Fact #4, Expenditure on disaster planning and preparing/maintaining standards represent only 1.2% of total costs or $4 B. This represents the ‘costs of disaster recovery plans and backups’ and the ‘costs of preparing and maintaining standards.’ What jumps out at me on this one, is it appears to be a relatively small amount in relation to other areas, so the question becomes, is it being given the right priority, could we further reduce losses and maximize the investment in fire prevention if we improved how we planned for disasters and managed standards? Fire insurance expenditure Net fire insurance expenditure represents, 7% of total costs or $23.6 B Fact #5, Net fire insurance expenditure represents, 7% of total costs or $23.6 B. This is ‘defined as the difference between the insurance premiums paid by property owners (personal and commercial) for insuring their property from fire and the damages claimed from insurers.’ Which says investing in the insurance necessary to protect the operation has a sizable impact on the operating budget and you need it to be there and available if a fire strikes to ensure business continuity. Therefore, the questions to ask yourself are, if the insurance is needed, will you have the data to defend your claim? Or if it’s not needed because fire prevention is top notch, will you have the data to negotiate lower rates? How long will it take to compile the data necessary to support your argument, is the data believable? Other important questions There is no doubt, fire Prevention is an important and significant investment for organizations, but the question is, is there a better way of managing it, do you have the data necessary to ensure compliance with operating regulations, are staff operating efficiently, is the job getting done? Unfortunately for many, we simply don’t have the data necessary to answer these and many other important questions when it comes to planning and defending your operating budget. Fire prevention is complicated, the building code for commercial properties has over 200 pages Fire prevention is complicated, the building code for commercial properties has over 200 pages detailing the safety procedures, products and signs that must be installed and functioning 24hours a day, 7 days a week. That must be inspected and tested daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to reduce losses and improve safety. Fire prevention policies The challenge is not in understanding what must be done but in how we manage it. Many organizations are still relying on spreadsheets and signing off the ticket on the fire extinguisher for tracking and monitoring fire prevention procedures. Hoping that when a faulty, missing, or broken fire extinguisher gets identified that the right people are informed, that the issue gets addressed. This lack of visibility presents a lot of opportunities for something to go wrong, and when it does have dire consequences. It is our belief that it is time to digitally transform how we manage fire safety and procedures. Relying on the ways of yesterday, are no longer going to cut it and are actually exposing operations to more risk and cost than is necessary. Technology has evolved in ways that enable operations to cost-effectively eliminate the fear, uncertainty, and doubt in fire prevention policies and procedures and have the data to prove it!

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