Fire Alarm Systems - Museums

23rd October 2017

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A museum is a building which houses objects of a cultural, artistic, historical or scientific nature which are stored and exhibited. Museums are permanent institutions within society and are open to the public, whereby a lot of research, exhibitions, committees and academic trips are carried out.

National Motorcycle Museum Fire, West Midlands

In early September 2003, a fire broke out in the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, West Midlands at around 5pm. The fire began due to a used cigarette that was thrown into a designated smoking area where it ignited a pile of cardboard boxes containing air-conditioning filters. The fire spread rapidly as the museum did not have a sprinkler system, however, the building did have fire detection equipment which contacted emergency services in minutes.

Around 120 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze which could be seen from 15 miles away, however, appliances were delayed due to the rush hour traffic. Once the firefighters arrived, the fire was put out after roughly an hour and a half.

The Aftermath

The severity of the fire was significant, over 600 vintage machines were destroyed, 60% of the building was ruined and three out of the five exhibitions were unsalvageable. With the best efforts of the public and staff, 300 historic motorcycles were saved, however, 380 were destroyed.

The total cost of the fire in damages was calculated to be around £14million and it took 15 months and additional costs to rebuild the museum, this included a £1.2million sprinkler system. Once renovations were complete, the museum reopened on 1st December 2004, a year and two months after the blaze broke out.[1]

What Are The Fire Risks Associated with Museums?

There are many risks associated with museums:

  • Smoking
    While in the UK smoking is banned in public places, it can still pose a threat if designated areas aren’t clearly signed, and safe and contained disposal bins which will not burn or tip over, are not provided.
  • Overloaded Power Outlets
    Overloaded power outlets can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Poor Housekeeping
    If public areas are not kept clean and free from waste, the risk of fire is increased. Combustible materials that are not removed such as cardboard or packaging can cause fire to spread more rapidly. As well as this exits can become blocked, preventing efficient evacuation.
  • Traffic
    The high volume of people passing through a building such as a museum means that keeping areas free of clutter can be difficult. As well as this, most will be unfamiliar with the building which may make evacuation difficult.

The Importance of a Reliable Fire System in Museums

It goes without saying that reliable fire detection systems should be installed within museums as they hold sacred, irreplaceable objects that are not only expensive but mean a lot in history. As well as this, museums are open to the public and it will put the lives of young children, students, workers and the elderly at risk if a fire detection system is not in place.

'Open' Protocol Solution

Eurofyre offers several cost-effective solutions to help keep buildings safe from fire. Eurofyre believes that each client should have the opportunity to choose their own fire detection system maintainer and, therefore, offer an 'open' protocol solution.

What are the Most Common Fire Alarm Systems Used in Museums?

There are a variety of fire alarm systems used in museums, the most effective being:

Analogue Addressable

Eurofyre’s very own ProFyre range of analogue addressable fire detection equipment was designed to comply with the latest international standards to offer full, high-quality fire detection and is the ideal choice for museum protection.

The ProFyre A4 panel is the perfect choice for large sized properties due to its modular nature. It supports up to 8 loops with up to 250 addresses per loop. The A4 panel can be installed alone or with the ability to listen to other nodes on a peer to peer network facility.

In comparison to the A4 panel, the ProFyre A2 fire alarm panel is the ideal choice for medium size properties that require less than 256 devices, 8 zones and 2 loops with no cause & effect programming.

2-Wire Addressable

The ProFyre T8 2-wire addressable fire alarm panel is designed to use the ProFyre range of manual call points, addressable detectors, sounders and ancillary devices. The T8 offers all the advantages of an addressable system, with the simplicity of a conventional system, making it the perfect choice for small to medium size properties.

ProFyre 2-Wire Addressable

Conventional

The ProFyre C24 panel is ideal for medium-size properties as it is a fully-featured, expandable panel available in 8, 16 or 24 zone versions. The C24 panel is also easy to commission, install, maintain and operate.

The ProFyre C8 on the other hand, is a compact, cost-effective conventional fire alarm panel that is available in 1, 2, 4, 6 or 8 zone versions, making it an ideal choice for small-sized properties where an easy to install automatic fire detection and alarm solution is required.

ProFyre C24 ProFyre C8

Aspirating Smoke Detection

Aspirating Smoke Detection (ASD) is another effective solution for protecting museums from fire as it provides a high coverage for large areas and offers a very early warning of fire, allowing for a quicker evacuation.

ASD allows pipes to be hidden above ceilings and in wall cavities, giving the installer the opportunity to create discrete sampling holes without affecting the aesthetics of the property. Aspirating Smoke Detectors are also highly sensitive and can detect smoke before it is visible to the human eye, therefore, providing a very early warning of fire to prompt investigation.


Source: [1] Wikipedia

To find out more about any of Eurofyre's fire detection systems, please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to sales@eurofyre.co.uk or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.

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Mark Redfearn

Posted by Mark Redfearn

Mark is the technical services manager at Eurofyre.

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