How Aspirating Smoke Detection Can Help Retailers Protect Their Supply Chains

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Those of you that are familiar with our website, in particular our projects page where we detail projects that we have been involved with, will notice that a number of the projects we have worked on involve protecting high-end retail stores from fire.

Although maintaining the safety of a store's staff, customers and visitors is always at the forefront, preventing damage to valuable stock is also high on the list. But what about the rest of the stock that is not held in store?

As part of any supply chain, large warehouse facilities are used to house stock, ready to be distributed to meet the demands of individual stores or branches. These warehouses are responsible for the safe storage of, in many cases, millions of pounds worth of merchandise and interruptions to their smooth operation, tight schedules and well organised logistics could be devastating.

What are the fire risks?

Warehouses are filled with flammable items. Cardboard and other items used for packaging, dust particles and the merchandise itself (especially clothing) are all extremely combustible and provide the ideal environment for fire to flourish. On top of this there is a high risk of fire from faulty or ill-maintained mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment, such as conveyors and forklifts.

What are the consequences of fire?

As previously mentioned, warehouses often contain reams of valuable stock which could easily be damaged, not just by fire, but buy smoke and fire suppression systems too. However, this doesn’t just affect the warehouse. Damage to stock could lead to huge delays in the supply chain, potentially causing huge cash-flow issues, resulting in millions of pounds worth of loss due to the disruption to the business.

What are the challenges with protecting a warehouse from fire?

A number of challenges become apparent when looking to design a suitable fire alarm system for a warehouse. Voluminous areas cause issues for traditional smoke detection systems. High ceilings can cause smoke stratification, stopping the upwards movement of smoke and delaying the time it takes to reach smoke detectors. If the smoke does eventually reach the detectors it will often be diluted, and in most cases undetectable, until a fire has reached the point where it can no longer be controlled and/or contained. By this point it is likely that fire will have spread to other areas of the building.

Warehouse fires need to be detected as early as possible. Flammable materials can ignite quickly and fire can spread just as easily. Smoke can also be damaging to the supply chain and, in turn, devastating to the business.Therefore, fast and reliable detection is paramount to stop the spread of fire and damage to merchandise.

What is the solution?

With the existing challenges and risks involved with warehouse operations, and the potential devastating consequences of fire, a smoke detection system needs to tackle obstacles such as smoke dilution and stratification in order to detect smoke at the first indication of a potential fire. An aspirating smoke detection (ASD) system can do just that.

An ASD system actively draws air from the protected area via multiple sampling holes, helping to overcome smoke stratification. A network of aspirating pipes carry the sampled air into a highly sensitive detection chamber where, even highly diluted, smoke particles can be accurately detected. Upon detecting smoke an alarm is triggered providing the best possible response time for action to be taken.

Eurofyre are specialist designers and suppliers of aspirating smoke detection systems. We have a broad range of ASD systems available including our own EF-ASD systems. We also work closely with Xtralis to provide an even wider range of systems including the new VESDA-E range, providing technical support throughout the design, installation and maintenance of the system.

For more information on the aspirating smoke detection systems that we have available, or to discuss the right solution for your smoke detection needs please feel free to get in touch either by telephone on +44 (0)1329 835024, email to sales@eurofyre.co.uk, or via the form on our contact page.

Mark Redfearn

Posted by Mark Redfearn

Mark is the technical services manager at Eurofyre.

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