Electrical Contracting News (ECN) April 2017 - Page 41

SPECIAL FEATURE

FIRE DETECTION & SAFETY

SPECIAL FEATURE

GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE

Peter Lackey , fire marketing manager UK and Ireland at Tyco , assesses the challenges facing the fire suppression industry .

The fire suppression and

detection industry is constantly undergoing change . As new technology becomes available , it changes the way people and businesses approach safety and compliance . From basic sprinkler systems and smoke alarms , we are now entering the age of smart analytics and connected sensors capable of discerning far more detail about a potential fire than ever before . In turn this new insight is reducing workloads for stretched safety staff and improving the chances of a fire being quickly suppressed .
What ’ s more , the industry is growing fast – according to research firm Markets and Markets , the fire protection systems market is predicted to be worth $ 79.18bn by 2020 , up from $ 33.58bn in 2013 , at a compound annual growth rate of 11.53 per cent .
However , despite these benefits , the fire suppression industry is still plagued by false alarms . Smart technology can go a long way to helping resolve this issue , but there is still a long way to go . This issue is one of the key challenges facing the industry – it wastes resources , endangers lives and causes major disruptions to businesses and consumers alike .
The scourge of false alarms
Building managers have responsibilities not only towards their own employees , but also the lives and interests of the communities around them . It ’ s essential to avoid any unnecessary risk or disruption to either group . Should an investment bank building be evacuated , for example , millions of pounds could be lost in a matter of minutes . Even worse , should a large number of false alarms occur , it could result in those using the building becoming complacent to the sound of an alarm and failing to respond to the warning of a real fire .
False alarms can also cause unneeded fire brigade callouts , which will only damage corporate reputations and relations with the local community , as well as putting victims of real fires at risk . Indeed , one of the biggest issues with false alarms is that they are an incredible drain on public resources . Repeat offences increase the risk that the response to a genuine incident will be delayed . Some site managers could be unaware that the local fire brigade might not respond to an unconfirmed fire signal , generated by automatic detectors via systems connected to an Alarm Receiving Centre . Automatic alarms are hard to verify . As such , site management needs to ensure either that fire wardens are well trained in correct
CCTV cameras can help to aid the early detection and verification of fires .
reporting procedure , or that fire detection equipment is capable of discerning between , say , dust and smoke .
Evidently , any building or facility installed with a fire detection system must ensure the reduction of false or unwanted alarms is prioritised , and with the latest innovations in the fire protection industry , this is a closer reality than ever before .
Moving to the future
For organisations looking to improve safety and reduce false and unwanted alarms , it is clearly advisable to implement a well thought out fire safety strategy that takes into account the necessary risk assessments across each of these possible triggers and situations . This is crucial in order to identify and wherever possible eliminate the potential scenarios in which false and unwanted alarms could occur .
If an existing system has been prone to false alarms , it is advisable to look at incorporating intelligent fire alarm detection devices . For instance , the use of interactively adjusted algorithms can establish if the detected properties of carbon monoxide , heat or smoke correspond to those held in memory for real fire events . By utilising this type of detection technology , steam from a shower will not trigger an alarm , for instance .
It can also be incredibly beneficial to have a wireless radio enabled system in place to ensure that detectors across the site are integrated – such as with the latest CCTV technology – to aid the early detection and verification of fires . This can help to improve system functionality and performance and in the case of false alarms , CCTV cameras can help to aid the early detection and verification of fires by allowing users to view the area to gain a fuller picture of the situation – acting as a secondary investigation strategy .
Once a fire detection and alarm system is in place , although it might sound very
April 2017 | 41