Prevention and Control
Every industrial plant and setting is susceptible to fire hazards especially where high temperatures, fuel, high volts of electricity and machinery can generate heat and fire. If not prevented or at least controlled, the chance of saving human lives and expensive equipment is greatly reduced.
Plants and factories always have fire prevention and mitigation plans in place to avert hazards. Among these plans is the use of special systems, some basic and others technologically advanced.
Smoke detectors set off an alarm when certain amounts of smoke are detected. They’re a common fixture in houses, offices, plants and factories. Despite the small size and low cost they go a long way in helping avert or mitigate fire hazards.
Photoelectric and ionization
Photoelectric and ionization are the two types of smoke detectors. The first relies on light to function and the lack of it to set off an alarm. To prevent the device from wrongfully sounding the alarm, the sensor waits for smoke particles to scatter light. The device is best suited for smoldering fires and ionization for fast flame fires.
With ionization devices, americium-241 (a radioactive metal) ionizes the oxygen and nitrogen present in the air inside an ionization chamber. The current generated by the negative electrons and the positive atoms is left undisturbed until smoke enters the chamber and disrupts it to sound an alarm.
Both photoelectric and ionization systems are effective but the first sets off an alarm faster because it needs only a small amount of smoke to activate. As such, it’s the better choice for both industrial and residential settings though both photoelectric and ionization systems can be used together.
Where smoke alarms detect smoke to sound an alarm, heat detectors do the same when detecting heat. For maximum efficiency, using both smoke and heat detection systems is advised to deal with smoldering and fast flame fires.
As with smoke alarms, heat detectors are of different types.
Pneumatic heat detection systems
Pneumatic systems rely on changes in tube temperatures to sound alarms. They’re ideal for use near engines and turbines and on large vehicles like planes.
Fixed heat detectors
With fixed heat detectors, the alarm is sounded when temperatures reach a certain degree. A metal alloy is the trigger which when it begins to melt, activates the alarm. The device must be replaced when activated as the melted metal can no longer act as a trigger.
A third type is the rate-of-rise detector which can be programmed to either detect slow rise in temperature or abrupt changes. Unlike fixed heat systems, they can be reset and reused.
Using different alarm systems is not enough if they aren’t installed in strategic locations. A fire management plan will therefore entail mapping key points to mitigate threat to life and damage to property. P1 and P2 (to protect property) are installed either throughout a building (P1) or in areas where the risk of ignition is higher (P2). L1 to L5 systems are designed to protect life. L1 is installed throughout buildings to sound early warnings while L2 is set up along escape routes and rooms with higher threats. L3 also covers escape routes and rooms leading to escape routes although L4 is installed only along escape routes and circulation areas. L5 are custom systems that may be installed in data centers and areas that cannot be covered by other systems.
Yours In Fire Safety