Warehouse fire prevention

May 2013 Fire & Safety

The challenge of protecting warehouses from fire can be complex, depending on the fire load of the warehouse and the fire risk as presented by the product stored in the warehouse. A sprinkler system is always the first line of protective apparatus that comes to mind when protecting a warehouse. However, in many cases, even greater supplementary fire detection, in the form of very early warning smoke apparatus, may be required.

This is the view of Duncan Boyes, chairman of the Centa Group. “An aspiring smoke detection system, which gives the earliest warning of an impending fire hazard in a warehouse environment, protects mezzanine and general storage areas, high bay racking, automated pick areas and loading bays. This system ensures there is sufficient time to investigate and intervene, avoiding damage and disruption to business.”

VESDA air sampling smoke detection devices, which reliably measure extremely low concentrations of smoke, protect warehouse contents from smoke, fire and water damage.

The multiple warning levels of this system can be used to trigger different responses at different stages of smoke, from controlling air conditioning, to suppression release. This system has a wide sensitivity range and multi-level warnings, which mean even the lowest levels of smoke can be detected before a fire has time to escalate.

VESDA sampling points can be placed at return air grille, or in equipment cabinets, detecting smoke as it is carried by the airflow. In large open warehouses, sampling points for these detectors can be placed where the smoke goes – often some distance below ceiling level. These detectors are mounted in accessible locations, allowing easy access for maintenance. Only the sampling pipe network is placed in the inaccessible area.

This system, which encompasses a network of pipes with small sampling holes in them, as well as capillary sampling tubes, is well suited in applications where unobtrusive detection is required. These pipes all report back to a control panel which samples the incoming air for hydrocarbons, a by-product of fire.

The VESDA system operates by continually drawing air into the pipe network via a high efficiency aspirator. A sample of this air is then passed through a dual stage filter. The first stage removes dust and dirt from the air sample, before it allows the sample to enter the laser detection chamber for smoke detection.

The second, ultra fine stage provides an additional clean air supply to keep the detector’s optical surfaces free from contamination, ensuring calibration and extended service life of the detector.

For more information contact The Centa Group, +27 (0)31 569 1175, [email protected], www.centa.co.za

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