Improving fire preparedness through technological intervention

Pramod Singh, head-fire & safety, Tata PowerAn experienced fire & safety professional, Pramod is highly skilled in Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS), HAZOP study, inspection, and risk assessment. He is also the lead auditor with OHSAS 18001:2007, ISO 14000:2004, ISO 22301:2012, and ISO 31000:2009.

Firefighting is an incredibly dangerous job. Though through the ages, technological advancements continue to save millions. The invention of Fire and the way to produce it is an important landmark in the growth of Civilization. In the long history of Fire prevention and Protection in India, there have been many occasions where the Fire and Safety officers have taken major steps to enhance the level of survivability of occupants in a fire scenario by up-dating and upgrading the Firefighting facilities and hardware. Business and factory owners make substantial changes to existing structures and occupancies. Fire incidents happen rarely but when they occur, they have the tendency to destroy life and property and incur heavy losses. Fire is a very good servant, but a very bad Master. As long as fire is under control, it serves a lot of useful purpose, but once it goes out of control, it can create a lot of destruction. However, despite the presence of fire safety measures, the occurrence of fire accidents sometimes are inevitable. ‘Whatever Burns never returns’. ‘Learn not to burn,Fire is a deadly Teacher’.

Fire Risk Assessment is a continuous process followed in most of the plants and factories and hazardous installations. The gap analysis always helps in improving the aspects on fire prevention and protection measures. Risk framework provides a methodology for determining the fire load and fire load density as the basis for the evaluation and design of the structural fire performance of a building. Many Codes & Standards, rules and regulations such as NFPA 557 Standard for Determination of Fire Loads for Use in Structural Fire Protection Design, National Building Code of India, Part-IV, Fire Protection, Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006 and Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2013 are enacted by Central and State Governments to make effective provisions for the fire prevention, safety and protection of life and property.

Fire Management System includes FixedFire Protection systems, Alarm and Detection systems, Emergency Preparedness, training and awareness for Fire Prevention and competent manpower to manage the systems. Large fire management decisions are ideally based on the evaluation of management options, their costs, safety implications, and how they may change fire outcomes.

Next Generation Technology
Firefighting Robot Remotely Operated by Android Applications: The main intention of this project is
to design a fire fighting robot using Android application for remote operation. The firefighting robot has a water tanker to pump water and spray it on fire; it is controlled through wireless communication. For the desired operation, 8051 microcontroller is used.

Video Image Smoke Detection: VISD technology detects smoke and flames visually. It can pinpoint the place where smoke begins. A computer analyzes whether images from cameras show evidence of smoke or flames. Once either is detected, a signal is sent to the alarm system. It can read the brightness, contrast, motion, and color of the smoke to assess the fire.

The gap analysis always helps in improving the aspects on fire prevention and protection measures

Because the technology isn’t using spot detection, it can cover very large spaces. It’s currently being used in large indoor facilities with high ceilings (15+ feet), along with outdoor spaces like oil fields, mines, and in forestry. Fires are unavoidable even when all necessary safety precautions are taken. Advances in technology improve our chances of fighting fires effectively with earlier detection and more versatile suppression methods.

Smoke Catcher - Early Fire Detection System: The software is integrated into a conventional IP CCTV camera which then continuously examines the video images to detect smoke and immediately reports an emerging Fire.

Water Mist System: Water mist fire safety technology improves on typical sprinkler systems and is considered to be a major part of the future of firefighting. Water simply works, and it’s the most common agent used to fight fires today. Instead of large droplets of water, water mist systems send out a fine mist that smothers a fire. Since the droplets are smaller, the mist systems create more of them. The larger surface area of droplets converts water to steam faster. The steam absorbs more heat from the flame, lowering the temperature of the fire, suffocating the fire faster than regular old water.

Mist systems also significantly decrease water damage. This will help business owners to Protect costly equipment from damage. Even dry chemical systems are more likely to damage buildings and equipment when used. Water mist systems can be installed locally (for one area) or can cover an entire room. Mist can potentially fight electrical fires, making mist systems more versatile than typical sprinkler type suppression systems.

Using the atomization technology, the water mist is developed by using the kinetic energy of compressed air and mixed with the liquid in specially designed multiple nozzle systems. Atomisation works with compressed air to pressurise the system, propell the liquid and mix it with the liquid for creating mist. Atomisation creates water mist in the range between 100-150 μm which results in 40 times more cooling as compared to conventional water spray of diameter 5000 μm.

Online Hydrant Pressure Monitoring: Usually hydrant pressure monitoring is done manually by the fire personnel to ensure adequate pressure in the fire line and availability of fire water in the fire water network at highest and farthest point. Online hydrant pressure monitoring through PI Software for farthest and highest hydrant points has advantage of 24X7 surveillance and risk of manual monitoring is minimized.

Wireless Fire Detection System: In this system, a radio signal is transmitted from the call points and multi (smoke and heat) or heat detectors to the fire alarm control panel and also fire control room graphics system. It works in exactly the same way as a ‘normal’ hardwired system. Conventional Fire Detection and Alarm System (FDAS) consists of wired system from installed location to control room. The cable has to be laid from FDAS installed location to Fire Alarm Panel/Control Room by excavation. Excavation for laying cable is not required. This is fail safe system i.e., if there is communication breakdown due to any reason, faulty alarm will be generated.