Innovation in the fire protection industry can sometimes be slow to move forward as compared to some other industries. Legislation, regulation, and enforcement can all hinder the growth of innovation in the market. But it’s important work as the ability to innovate in this industry saves lives.
The growing complexities of today’s infrastructure and the demand for more sustainable solutions also fuels the need for innovation. Thankfully there are many companies at the forefront of developing solutions for better, safer, and more efficient ways to prevent and extinguish fires.
Smart technologies for the fire protection industry
Just this past June at the NFPA Conference, there was a lot of talk about Smart Connected Things (SCoT) in fire protection systems. One session was led by Terry Victor, Johnson Controls, Grinnell Fire Protection Solutions, and co-led by Christina Francis, Procter & Gamble Co. The two looked at these systems as ways to enable both owners and service providers to determine system status and perform some inspection and testing functions remotely. Connected technologies have been a part of our world for years, and now making a strong presence in the fire protection industry.
For example, the use of smart tech can provide more accurate, efficient inspections and testing of systems. This alone can save lives. In an article in which the pair of presenters were interviewed, they describe a fictional scenario of a warehouse fire. If the warehouse is equipped with smart tech to monitor the water pressure and flow rate of the building’s sprinkler system, they know how much water has been flowing per minute. This means they should therefore have control of the fire and can communicate this information to incident command. The ability to monitor water flow in a sprinklered building externally is just one of the ways that smart tech can literally save lives.
Smart technology can also be used to alert building owners to faulty sprinkler systems, frozen pipes, and more.
Advanced smoke detection for homeowners
Kidde has come out with the first ever smoke detector to meet new UL 268 Safety Standards for 2020. The new standards,that were actually announced back in 2016, require that all smoke alarms and detectors meet two important criteria: increased sensitivity to meet the two new polyurethane foam tests and ability to distinguish between smoke aerosols from fire sources and smoke aerosols from cooking sources. More information on these tests can be found on the UL Safety Standards website.
In short, smoke detectors must be able to detect the differences in materials based on the type of smoke they release when on fire. Detectors must also recognize the difference in smoke from cooking (or a “nuisance” fire) and a true fire.
Kidde’s new smoke alarm features “TruSense Technology” that can differentiate between fast flaming/smoldering fires and some common home nuisance alarms. These changes were made in hopes that homeowners will not just remove smoke detectors and will rather take them more seriously. Other smoke alarm/detector companies are developing commercial applications as the standard requirements are in full swing this year.
Video detection of smoke/flames
Video Image Smoke Detection technology has been around for a little while now, but video-based detection is being used for a broadening range of applications.
A fire VID system “consists of video-based analytical algorithms that integrate cameras into advanced flame and smoke detection systems.” This video image is then processed by software that determines if smoke or flame from a fire can be identified. The algorithms used to detect smoke/flames can be based on several criteria such as changes in brightness, contrast, motion, etc. Depending on the type of system, these detection tools can even provide motion detection and other surveillance features in addition to detection/location.
The idea of VISD technology is that you can actually see the signature of smoke and flames outlined to a specific area. For example, in electrical power plants, stadiums, paper mills, and large warehouse/distribution centers, where fires may be challenging to locate using traditional methods. Flame VID systems trace fire to its point of origin to make for faster, more efficient extinguishment.
Integrated voice evacuation
Voice evacuation and the ability to customize evacuation directives are critical lifesaving tools. In 2019, manufacturers Notifier and Edwards released products that take integrated voice evacuation to the next level.
The L-Series System Sensor speakers by Notifier transmits the messages necessary to meet code, with a variety of options to meet your application. Their 8” dual voltage speakers offer high fidelity and high-volume sound output. The series also features wall and ceiling mount options. These advanced speakers are ideal for large warehouses, highly populated or exceptionally loud areas.
Edwards released their EST4 platform in 2019 as their “premier emergency communications system.” The platform stores 250 audio messages for playback in any order and supports thousands of addressable devices, annunciation indicators, and control switches. This system set-up gives designers more flexibility to map out the implementation of their emergency plans as it provides an advanced networked fire alarm and emergency communications platform.
Water mist suppression systems
A major concern for the fire protection industry moving forward is sustainability. Water mist suppression systems like HI-FOG ® by Marioff fight fires with significantly less water than traditional sprinkler systems. The water is kept under extreme pressure and is released using specialized sprinkler and spray heads. The water is able to reach a much larger surface area since the water is dispersed in such small droplets.
Water mist suppression systems like HI-FOG® cool the fire and surroundings, blocks radiant heat, and eliminates the oxygen from the seat of the fire. These types of systems are most commonly used in populated areas, or in applications where the threat of water damage would be detrimental.
Other than sprinkler systems, another way the industry suppresses fire is through gaseous suppression systems. Gas suppression was created as a replacement for Halon systems several decades ago. Now, water mist systems may be a replacement for gas suppression. Gas suppression is safer for our atmosphere but have been found to contribute to global warming. As a result, water mist systems are gaining popularity. These water-based systems are safer and yet just as effective as other types of systems.
Fire Systems, Inc.
Fire Systems, Inc. has been in business for over 30 years. We have experience installing the most advanced solutions in the fire protection industry. From water mist suppression systems to innovative voice integrated fire alarm systems, we do it all.
Our team of professionals can help you determine the best solutions for your business. Our office is also equipped with software that can track when your annual inspections are due, so you’ll never miss an inspection. Fire Systems is devoted to keeping your business safe and compliant with the newest technologies on the market today. Call us today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information.