18-05-2018: 3 reasons why industrial facilities choose video smoke detection over conventional smoke detectors

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3 reasons why industrial facilities choose video smoke detection over conventional smoke detectors

Industrial facilities have always required other fire detection technologies than those used in office environments. But even then, today’s standard practice technologies - point detectors, beam detectors, and aspiration-based detection – might fall short. In some critical industrial facilities, where harsh production environments and high ceilings are the norm, video smoke detection will be the only way to ensure reliable smoke detection.

Video smoke detection technology detects, identifies and analyzes smoke at the first sign. A video smoke detection system differs from conventional detectors in that the detection is performed remotely from the actual fire, based on a video image, and therefore does not involve any contact with the products of combustion.

Video smoke detection (VSD) has at least three advantages over traditional detection systems, which is why owners of industrial facilities increasingly choose VSD as their preferred technology.

1/ Video smoke detection is extremely fast.

In large open spaces or tall buildings, point-type and beam-type detectors might not be sensitive enough to provide early warning of smoke because of a phenomenon called smoke stratification, which stops the upward movement of smoke before it reaches the ceiling. By the time smoke is detected by such systems, a fire would already have to be very large, creating sufficient heat and smoke to rise up to the ceiling.

This is not a problem for VSD. Video smoke detection because it makes efficient use of CCTV, so it is able to see fire very fast. VSD detects right at the source, from a very large distance. This way, the detection is not delayed by smoke that needs to travel way up high to a ceiling-mounted smoke detector. Video-based detection systems do not need to make physical contact with smoke or dust, but immediately ‘see’ the danger when and where it originates.

2/ Video smoke detection reduces false alarms to a minimum.

Smoke detectors can be lifesavers. However, sometimes, smoke detection systems are erroneously triggered by steam or vapors coming from production processes. Such false alarms can bring an entire production line to a standstill and can lead to serious business losses, especially in certain automated industries, where production stops can heavily reduce a company’s output and sales volumes.

Video smoke detection does not generate alarms based on physical contact with smoke. Instead, this technology relies on smart analysis of the video image. This is the reason why video smoke detection will perform well, even in environments where dust, steam, vapors, or chemical products, are typical side-effects of the production process.

3/ Video smoke detection allows you to visually assess the situation in real time.

A video smoke detector is an excellent tool for operators to monitor a large area in real time. Through CCTV video images, they can assess the nature and severity of the fire as well as the stage it is in. Based on pre-incident recording, they can see whether people are present at the place of the incident and they can better assess the overall situation. This way, they can also make better use of their emergency resources. After the incident, the video footage can be used for risk analysis and prevention of future incidents.

As such, video smoke detection provides the operator with more time for more interpretation. Since it is so fast and since it allows for visual verification, VSD provides the operator with valuable time to make a well-founded decision. That decision could be calling the emergency services and avoid further damage or human suffering. But bearing in mind the cost of an alarm, it could also be ignoring the alarm and if possible isolating and controlling the fire event in order to prevent the entire operation from closing down and running into costs.

Fire safety in industrial environments

Conventional smoke detectors work very well in the environments they are intended to be used in. In some critical, industrial environments however they are not practical. Think of many warehouses or production halls where smoke will never reach the detector mounted on the ceiling. Also think of production processes that involve dust or steam and as a result needlessly trigger your smoke detectors.

An early warning system that is 100% free of false alarms will probably be difficult to achieve. Fire and smoke detection always needs to strike a difficult balance between detecting every irregularity there is in time and avoiding too many costly unwanted alarms. Video smoke detection is probably the only detection technology out there today that strikes that balance extremely well.