Top-class railway safety

October 2006 Fire & Safety

The equipment for a new fire prevention system on board one of South Africa’s premier luxury tourist trains, was ­recently supplied by GE Security.

"The systems integrator which implemented the solution was Cybernetic Interactive Solutions; which is a local electronics company that both installs and maintains systems such as GE Security's Aritech Fire Detection & Control system throughout South Africa and its neighbouring countries," says Lauren Sher, South African country manager for GE Security.

Tim Woolf, owner of Cybernetic Interactive Solutions, explains: "The customer's requirement for this installation was to provide smoke and fire detection facilities in each of the train's compartments; as well as an alarm in the butlers' cabins, the power/control coach and the manager's sleeping quarters."

GE Security's Aritech system that was installed, consists of a conventional fire detection system, coupled with an analog addressable system via input/output modules in each coach; with a repeater panel in the manager's sleeping quarters.

The challenges

"There were several challenges that our team was faced with," says Wolf. "The train environment is a complex one. Within the train there are 18 coaches, with a variety of different functions; from deluxe guest accommodation to coaches that house power generators and also taking into account smoking areas - such as the bar - and cooking facilities in the kitchen coaches.

"In addition the electrical environment is extremely hostile; for instance the ground or earth is not 0 volts and floats up and down continuously. To resolve this challenge our team had to design and install optical interfaces to overcome this phenomenon," Wolf elaborates.

"Also, given the nature of the train's luxurious décor and design, the fire detection units had be be placed in such a way that they would be unobtrusive and yet functioning to maximum efficiency.

"Other modifications to the system included adapting the fire panels, so that they are able to operate off the train's battery system; as well as installing heat detectors in the power generator areas and the kitchen coaches."

Sher concludes: "GE's ongoing commitment to innovation encountered a challenge in this application. However, through the combination of the technical solutions offered by our innovative solutions, and the resourcefulness of the systems integrator, a reliable and suitable outcome has been achieved."

For more information contact Brett Birch, GE Industrial - Security, +27 (0) 21 937 6000,

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