A fire alarm story was in the news recently, due to the fire authorities in Sweden insisting a hotel made from ice will require a fire alarm to apply for the building permit to open to the public.
The media headlines was of the sort “Is this an April’s fool joke” or “has the authorities gone mad?” However, if you look more closely at how the authorities came to this decision, you may appreciate their concerns.
What the authorities were concerned about, is, not what could not burn, but what could. Within the hotel and the bedroom are combustible items, such as pillows, reindeer skins and sleeping bags, etc.
However, this story does highlight the need to carry out a fire risk assessment, evaluate the risk, and decide whether a building requires a fire alarm or any other fire protection equipment.
The first step the fire authorities would have undertaken is to carry out a fire risk assessment. This would predominately be evaluating the combustible items with the hotel, against the ignition sources. The next stage would be to consider the risk of the ignition sources, igniting the combustible materials and if this were to occur what would be the effect?
An evaluation of the escape routes and exits would have to be undertaken. Is the escape lighting sufficient to use the escape routes and exits safety. In addition, the assessment must identify the people at risk. Is there sufficient passive fire protection within the hotel to prevent the fire or smoke from spreading? From what I am led to believe, there are no fire doors and the rooms to the bedrooms are reindeer skins, which are of combustible material. Therefore, the smoke could easily travel onto the escape routes and into adjoining bedrooms. With the hotel having as much as 85 rooms, smoke traveling unheeded can make escape from the hotel difficult.
Last but not least, the hotel would have to have a good fire strategy and management system in place.
When you consider all these points mentioned and remember a hotel will have a large amount of people sleeping who are not familiar with the building, maybe having a fire alarm installed to give an early warning of a fire in not such a farfetched idea.
The fire authorities would have taken all these factors into account and have come to the conclusion that a fire alarm system is required.
Therefore, the next logical question would be, what type of system would be suitable for a structure that is made of ice and is at temperatures of approximately -5 degrees? Well, you have a choice of a wired or a wireless fire alarm. Attempting to install a wired system would be time consuming and having to secure cables could be a problem. Therefore, the obvious choice would be a wireless fire alarm system, but this would only be possible if there is no moisture in the air to damage the electronic components within the detectors. Reviewing the temperature range on the smoke detector data sheets for the three leading wireless fire alarm manufactures in the UK; Hyfire, EMS and EDA – Electro Detectors;
• Hyfire detectors can operate at -30 degrees
• EMS detectors can operate at -10 degrees
• EDA – Electro Detectors at -0 degrees
Therefore, Hyfire and EMS would be within the temperature range for this type of project.
However, ensuring a successful wireless fire alarm installation, especially with this type of project depends on whether you choose a company that knows the advantages and disadvantages of the equipment on the market and has a vast amount of experience installing wireless fire alarms.
However, if there is moisture in the air enough to damage the electronic components within the detectors, then a different approach would be required, and I would opt for an air sampling system. Air sampling systems from manufacturers such as VESDA or Stratos are renowned for low temperature applications, such as cold storage rooms and applications where there is moisture in the air.
Air sampling systems do not have any electronic components within the smoke sampling side of the system. The detection is of a sampling pipe, usually 20 or 25mm in diameter and is located within the area that requires detection. The air sampling detector unit contains the electronic components and this unit could be in a remote location. The detector unit has been tested to operate at temperatures as low as -10 degrees.
You can see just by considering a few factors of the installation that it pays to use an experienced and reputable fire alarm system designer. A good fire alarm designer will take into account items such as temperature and moisture and ensure that the system put forward will meet the client’s needs and not prone to false alarms.
Fire Systems Ltd, has well over twenty years’ experience in the designing and installing all types of fire alarm systems for many applications, especially, wireless systems. If you have any projects, or unusual ones such as an Ice hotel, why not contact our office on 020 8541 5646 or visit our website at www.firesystems.co.uk