Two Isn’t Always Better

Beta trial complete at Cook Medical

Higher-sensitivity fire detectors can do more than just spot threats earlier—they can actually lower long term hardware expenses for facility managers. That’s the conclusion drawn by U.S.-based medical device maker Cook Medical after conducting a side-by-side comparison of two different VESDA-E detectors. Partnering with Creative Fire—Brisbane, Cook Medical conducted a beta test of existing, commonly used detectors against newer, ultra-high sensitivity detectors. The trial application was installed at an active warehouse in Queensland, Australia.

In addition to superior performance, the beta test concluded that one Xtralis VESDA-E VEU system can be successfully substituted for two FastSense detection systems. For facilities managers, this means installing and maintaining far fewer systems on an ongoing basis, translating to a lower total cost of ownership.

The Beta Trial

Using identical sampling pipe layouts to standardize the test, the 2,470 m2 warehouse was split in half—one side being monitored by one new ultra-sensitive detector (Xtralis’ VESDA-E VEU system), and the other covered by two existing FastSense Plus HSSD2 detectors. All detectors were mounted on the mezzanine level approximately two meters from the ceiling. Throughout the test, all detectors, pipe layouts and smoke transport time requirements remained in accordance with AS1670, local fire safety codes.

To monitor stability, the test proceeded using the existing settings on the standard detectors and factory default settings on the ultra-sensitive detector, despite its ultra-high sensitivity capabilities.

Final commissioning, including smoke testing of the system was completed with the fire contractor, and after two months, data was obtained from the VEU for evaluation. Despite the background obscuration level remaining extremely low—between 0.0002% Obs/m and 0.008% Obs/m—the detector remained very stable during the test with no issues.

While fire is a concern for any warehouse, another vulnerability for Cook Medical is smoke contamination. The high sensitivity capability of the VEU detector would detect any potential smoldering fire at the very earliest possible stage—a feature that required deviating from the factory settings to fully test the technology.

Customizing the System

With enhanced sensitivity of up to 15 times greater than current VESDA detectors, the VEU’s advanced detection chamber is able to more accurately monitor and detect smoke and fire threats. By reviewing the event log, facilities managers are able to manually adjust alert levels based on unique situations. For instance, opening the loading dock doors at the Cook Medical warehouse impacted VUE readings, so the alert level was adjusted to 0.0400 percent Obs/m.

“This unique detector clearly demonstrated that our warehouse was maintaining a very high standard of cleanliness,” said Kelly Francis Grieg, Cook Medical Facilities Manager. “We were very impressed with the capability of the VEU to chart the background environment within the warehouse.”

Beyond using background environment data to inform smoke and fire detection, facilities managers are able to prove their organizations meet or exceed the strict cleanliness standards required by government or health organizations.

What’s Next

Following the test, Cook Medical tapped Creative Fire and replaced the remaining FastSense Plus detectors with an additional VESDA-E VEU detector.

As high tech manufacturing facilities become even cleaner warehouse environments, the technology for monitoring fire safety threats will be forced to become even more sensitive to minute dust and debris. A challenge that new age ultra-sensitive detectors are taking head

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Security Today.

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