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Safety & Security January 7, 2019

Reinventing Fire Detection in Industrial Warehouses

The cost of a warehouse fire goes far beyond the loss of the building and goods. Any loss caused by downtime, operation interruption, business reputation and goodwill can be significant.

Fortunately, protecting life and inventory is much easier for large warehouses as aspirating smoke detection (ASD) technology becomes more widely adopted. The process collects air samples through durable piping to detectors and tests it using sophisticated laser-based technology, imaging, and photodiodes. Compared to traditional smoke detectors, this dramatically improves safety by detecting smoke at the earliest possible stage via numerous sampling points, while reducing false alarms and maintenance.

Most large warehouses have high ceilings, which dilutes smoke. This makes fire detection difficult for conventional technologies, where smoke must collect before the alarm sounds. The fire must also generate sufficient heat before triggering sprinklers - by which time, it is well underway. Consequently, traditional spot smoke detectors are usually unsuitable for warehouses with high ceilings. The installation, wiring, testing, and maintenance of such spot detectors also make them inconvenient and costly.

As an alternative, ASD technology is a more effective, early detection option that does not require physical maintenance to access warehouse ceiling areas above high bay racks. Because of such flexibility, ASD smoke detection accommodates irregular ceiling structures, is not affected by internal business operations, and can even provide detection within storage racks for the fastest possible response to a fire threat.

As an example, one system, called VESDA-E VEU, by Xtralis, a global provider of aspirating fire detection equipment, draws air samples in a continuous process through holes in long runs of durable industrial pipe mounted along the walls and ceiling.

While some ASD products use an LED light source and one or more photo receivers, the VEU utilizes a flair detection chamber that uses a short wavelength laser, a CMOS imager, and multiple photodiodes.

With more detailed information to analyze, the unit is able to differentiate smoke from other factors that could cause disruptive false alarms. For warehouse environments where airborne dust may be present and confused with smoke, the unit's dust rejection and data analytics minimize nuisance alarms by at least 3 times compared to similar technologies.

Compared to other aspirating technologies, the system saves on maintenance costs by allowing pipe runs up to 1,310 ft. (400 m) and branched pipe networks up to 2,625 ft. (800 m). This extends detector coverage and reduces the number of detectors required to protect a warehouse fire zone.

Some ASD systems are designed to withstand very dusty, harsh industrial applications with superior dust filtration and NEMA 4 equivalent enclosures. The Xtralis' VESDA VLI system, for example, comes in an International Protection Marking IP66 enclosure that provides total protection against dust and strong water jets. The unit is also designed with a patented intelligent filter that significantly reduces contamination entering the detector.

Warehouse managers who take advantage of the superior capabilities of ASD systems will protect lives and inventory to a degree not previously possible.

For more information, contact Xtralis at 175 Bodwell Street, Avon, MA 02322, call: +1 (619) 252-2015; email: rsandler@xtralis.com or visit: www.xtralis.com/vea.

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Xtralis

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