Fire Suppression System Accessories - Expert Commentary

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.

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Carrier’s Fire Safety Brands To Showcase Innovative Solutions Together At NFPA 2019
Carrier’s Fire Safety Brands To Showcase Innovative Solutions Together At NFPA 2019

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.

Edwards’ multi-criteria Signature Optica smoke detectors first to achieve 2020 UL Safety Standard certification
Edwards’ multi-criteria Signature Optica smoke detectors first to achieve 2020 UL Safety Standard certification

Fire detection is reaching new, advanced levels, designed to help save more lives. Edwards, continuing in its legacy as the inventor of the alarm bell, is the first multi-criteria smoke detector manufacturer to receive certification to the UL standard for Fire Alarm Systems UL 268, 7th edition, set to take effect May 2020. The new Signature Optica smoke detectors utilise a next-generation sensor that better distinguishes the type of fire and the danger it creates, as well as reducing nuisance alarms. Edwards is part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. UL-certified Signature Optica smoke detectors The Edwards Signature Optica detectors will differentiate between truly threatening smoldering fires and nuisances such as burning food or steam The significantly revised standard incorporates three new tests, including a new cooking nuisance alarm test and two polyurethane foam tests for smoldering and flaming fires. These new tests better represent the smoke profiles and behavior of modern building fires to help ensure next-generation sensors are designed to give building occupants enough time to evacuate safely. All UL-certified smoke detectors are required to meet the enhanced requirements in 2020, representing a major change in the life-safety industry. The Edwards Signature Optica detectors will differentiate between truly threatening fast-flaming or smoldering fires and nuisances such as burning food or steam. The new detectors may also improve overall occupant safety, as commercial buildings typically contain furnishings comprised of synthetic materials such as polyurethane foam that are known to ignite and burn faster than traditional materials. This is a major advancement for commercial building operators, especially in hospitality, healthcare and other facilities that can be prone to nuisance alarms. Importance of multi-criteria smoke detectors “Through our research, we know that fire dynamics have changed over the last several decades,” said Chris Hasbrook, Vice President and GM for UL’s Building and Life Safety division. “We know manufacturers like Edwards have been actively working toward meeting the new smoke detector requirements and we are happy to see the first certification mark on a multi-criteria smoke detector. While expanding the smoke detector’s ability to respond to a range of types of smoke generated from various types of fires, today’s smoke alarm will be more technologically advanced and have the ability to help reduce cooking nuisance alarms, and that’s extremely important for fire safety.” The technology in Signature Optica represents a more sophisticated detection methodologyThe technology in Signature Optica represents a more sophisticated detection methodology. As particles enter the chamber, the size of the particles is analysed by a series of algorithms and consolidated into ratios to determine if the particles stem from a real fire or a nuisance source. This innovative approach was quickly matured using advanced design principles and the Edwards state-of-the-art fire test room. Signature Optica detectors can be retrofitted to existing Edwards systems without replacing control panels or software. Enhanced fire safety “Edwards is providing customers with the tools they need to alarm faster with greater accuracy, building on our 146-year legacy of fire and life-safety innovation,” said Edwards General Manager Angie Gomez. “The new Signature Optica smoke detectors will enhance protection of people and property while minimising false alarms that cause business interruption and unnecessary responses by fire departments.” In 2014 alone, according to the NFPA Journal, U.S. fire departments responded to 2.5 million false alarms. The Signature Optica detector line will become commercially available in the coming months.

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