Fire detection in warehouses

Issue 6 2021 Fire & Safety

With the new release of SANS 10139, there have been multiple changes that impact on how one would protect a warehouse or large facility.

Ensuring high levels of fire safety in warehouses, particularly in the growth of the unmanned warehouse sector, where there is a reliance on automatic fire detection systems being able to identify a real fire and notify emergency services as quickly as possible. As more consumer retail moves online and bigger and more remote distribution hubs are being built to supply this demand, there’s a real challenge when it comes to installing fire detection that can cover these large open spaces and protect their valuable contents.

While traditional point detectors are the most suitable option for many applications, there are other options available:

1. Beams.

2. Aspiration detectors.

3. Video-based fire detection.

All of these devices would, in the right application, offer a good solution to cover a wide area, such as the open spaces found in most ‘super-warehouses’ where a complex network of multiple overlapping sensors must be configured in order to achieve the required coverage. And this doesn’t take into consideration the height of the ceilings in these huge spaces, which in most instances, negates the acceptable use of point detection.

Below is a detailed analysis of each device type.

Beam: Optical beam smoke detectors are increasingly considered the most appropriate option for providing wide-area detection in these types of environments, as each one can cover an area that would normally require up to 15 point detectors.

As a beam detector works by responding to the attenuation of light between two points, anything that partially obscures the beam is potentially a trigger for an unwanted alarm. However, in most modern systems this problem has been eliminated thanks to time-based algorithms that distinguish between unwanted obscuration and genuine fire conditions.

Point detector: Multisensory devices can detect heat, smoke or other gases, however, they are not always the best option depending on site layout and requirements.

Aspiration system devices: These types of devices have been around for a long time and detect smoke with a small sensing hole in a piping system running along the entire warehouse or area being covered.

Video-based fire detection: This product has been around for some time and is fast gaining momentum, it has recently been added to South Africa National Standard and allows for the early detection of both smoke and fire as well as giving the would-be respondent the availability to see what the cause of the fire is and what to expect when they respond.

The siting and spacing of beam detectors is an important consideration. Reference should be made to national or local codes such as the recommendations found in the Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice, SANS 10139, NFPA 72 and the UK’s BS 5839, the last of which specifies the general height limit for point type smoke detectors. It is also necessary to ascertain the height of the heat barrier in a building as a detector that is positioned above this level could fail to operate effectively because of thermal interference, resulting in a delayed response to a genuine fire. Again, guidance is available on how the heat layer can be worked out and in new builds this is often completed by the architect or consulting engineer.

The fundamental criteria to address when selecting a detection technology for any location are appropriateness of location, choice of detection coverage and ease of installation and maintenance.


Credit(s)




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Workplace fire detection: early warning is key
Fire & Safety
Workplace fire detection systems should be correctly installed and regularly tested to ensure they provide proper cover and are able to assist staff members to safely escape and alert you before a fire becomes an inferno.

Read more...
Fire safety in financial organisations
Financial (Industry) Fire & Safety
The data that drives modern finance is physically stored and processed by banks of equipment in cabinets where they give off a significant amount of heat as a side effect to their furious electronic activity.

Read more...
ZYTEQ Fire offers EN54 certified range
ZYTEQ Fire Fire & Safety
Cape Town-based ZYTEQ Fire, a manufacturer and supplier of electronic fire detection equipment, offers a range of addressable, conventional and extinguishing equipment that is certified in Europe to the EN54 standards.

Read more...
Edge or server analytics
XtraVision CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring
Understanding your requirements and the technology’s capabilities is paramount in making effective decisions as to whether your surveillance system required edge or server analytics, or a combination of both.

Read more...
Technoswitch appointed as FST distributor
Technoswitch Fire Detection & Suppression News Fire & Safety
Technoswitch’s appointment as a distributor for the Fire & Security Techniques (FST) range of fire suppression solutions forms part of the company’s strategic plan to expand its range of suppression solutions.

Read more...
Perimeter and fire protection
Hikvision South Africa CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Fire & Safety Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection
Hikvision’s HeatPro is a new series of thermal cameras designed to provide affordable all-weather deterrent and alerts, aimed at perimeter protection and fire prevention applications.

Read more...
Integrated fire protection for mines
FS Systems Fire & Safety
A recent installation of the latest fire detection and gas suppression technologies with custom integrations into the Mining Fire Control Network, was completed by the FS Group in 14 E-Houses for a mining client in West Africa.

Read more...
Suppression solutions by Technoswitch
Technoswitch Fire Detection & Suppression Fire & Safety Products
Technoswitch supplies an extensive range of trusted fire suppression solutions for various applications.

Read more...
ORYX conventional fire panel range update
Technoswitch Fire Detection & Suppression Fire & Safety
Technoswitch recently added the redesigned ORYX repeater panel range to its second-generation ORYX conventional fire panel range. The repeater panels offer control functionality with silence buzzer, silence alarm, sound alarm and reset buttons.

Read more...
EN54-4 certified power supplies
Technoswitch Fire Detection & Suppression Fire & Safety
The Technoswitch EN54-4 certified range of power supplies deliver additional built-in performance features that most others fail to provide. These features ensure that the PSUs provide reliable power and continuously monitor total performance.

Read more...