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D-Tec highlights CCTV-based Video Smoke Detection's role in asset protection

Published on 28 October, 2009

Video Smoke Detection's role in Asset Protection
D-Tec suggests Video Smoke Detection as viable option for a multitude of projects
According to CCTV-based VSD (Video Smoke Detection) specialist D-Tec - part of AD Group - organisations need to carefully consider the impact that large scale fires, if left unchecked, can have on their operations and take effective preventative measures, especially when it comes to the targeted protection of key assets such as a multi-million pound production line. Sadly, many businesses never recover from a major incident due to the delay in re-building and associated customer loss.

Commented Tim Maslen, Sales Manager at D-Tec: "The need for vigilance is highlighted by the fact that according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the insured cost of commercial fire damage in the UK in 2008 amounted to £865 million, up 15 percent on the previous year. There is also the requirement to deliver an early warning of incidents to non-commercial premises, especially historic buildings whose structure and contents, if ravaged by fire, are in many cases irreplaceable. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Video Smoke Detection is being applied in an ever wider range of scenarios where timing is critical to minimise any damage. The reality is that it is now possible to consider Video Smoke Detection as a viable option for a multitude of projects whether it be the asset protection of key areas of an historic building, a manufacturing plant, the main thoroughfares in a shopping centre, the atrium of a corporate headquarters, the roof of a large department store or monitoring the corridors of an office development."

In the picture on VSD

Video Smoke Detection, VSD is fast making its mark in projects - both new build and refurbishment - by virtue of its ease of installation and minimal impact - cameras can be placed in unobtrusive positions so that the design of a building is not compromised with an unsightly object positioned on the ceiling. There is also the enhanced performance compared to more traditional alternatives.

D-Tec's Video Smoke Detection, because of its careful analysis of CCTV images, is ideally suited to this high temperature, dirty, environment

So how does VSD actually work? In practice, this approach to fire detection utilises standard CCTV images in real-time that can then be analysed by specialised image processing software. This seeks out the particular pattern that smoke produces by applying extensive detection and known false alarm algorithms. The cameras used could be part of the existing infrastructure in which case there is no disruption or installation cost which leads to a greater return on investment.

By programming the software to look for anticipated motion patterns of smoke over a specified area within a camera image, and looking for pixel changes, VSD has the potential to deliver an exceptionally fast response - typically in seconds. Crucially, once smoke has been detected the system can alert the operator as well as delivering a visual representation of the smoke on the system's monitor. This ability to effectively detect smoke at source, unlike more traditional methods, means that VSD does not have to rely on the smoke reaching a detector and is therefore unaffected by distance.

From smoke to flame

An added advantage with the latest systems, such as D-Tec's new FireVu model, is that they are able, for the first time, to bring together video smoke and flame detection. This means that, at a practical level, they can offer customers a layered response, typically alarming on smoke first and then confirming again if fire appears. The new FireVu also opens up the potential for the application of this capability in dark areas at night where flame rather than smoke will be the most visible sign of an incident.

Video Smoke Detection is being applied in an ever wider range of scenarios where timing is critical to minimise any damage

Commercial challenges

Said Tim Maslen, Sales Manager at D-Tec: "Putting the considerable risks associated with unplanned downtime and loss of key assets into perspective, it is estimated that roughly 1 in 5 businesses suffer a major disruption every year and 80% of those affected by a major incident close within a month."

"In terms of the commercial application of VSD, one German manufacturing customer we are now working with previously lost a multi-million pound production line due to a major fire, which impacted on their ongoing operations. Consequently, they were determined to have measures in place to ensure that, if such an incident happened again, they would be in a position to take rapid action using VSD and their on-site fire officers. I am pleased to report that this was successfully demonstrated recently when smoke was detected in part of the plant and remedial steps taken before any damage could occur."

Another area where VSD is proving its worth is for power stations, specifically to monitor all important turbine halls, here the potential for disruption not only to the power station but to the electricity consumers it serves is tremendous. VSD, because of its careful analysis of CCTV images, is ideally suited to this high temperature, dirty, environment where at anytime a combination of superheated steam, leaking lubrication oil and - in a coal fired power station - superfine coal dust can be released into the atmosphere. By contrast this is an environment where conventional heat and smoke detection systems are wholly unsuitable, as all alarm conditions are present in normal operating situations.

No additional unsightly cabling was needed for the project and the FireVu networked DVR (Digital Video Recorder) itself could be fitted elsewhere, out of sight of visitors to the Chapel

Historic protection

When it comes to non-commercial, historic, buildings a project in a 14th Century Czech chapel underlines the potential of this technology to be applied in potentially sensitive locations. In this case it was imperative that the chosen solution would not impact, negatively, on the aesthetics of the chapel so, for example, an aspirated system which involved extensive tubing to draw in air from the immediate area was one of the options ruled out at an early stage. This contrasts with D-Tec's IP-based VSD solution (FireVu) where, after surveying the immediate area, it was decided that all that would be required in the vicinity of the chapel was a single CCTV camera. To minimise any visual impact this was simply positioned at the entrance window of the chapel where there was already a climate control unit. As a result, no additional unsightly cabling was needed for the project and the FireVu networked DVR (Digital Video Recorder) itself could be fitted elsewhere, out of sight of visitors to the Chapel. Crucially, the main driver for adopting VSD was the irreplaceable nature of many of the artefacts held in the chapel as any major fire would be disastrous in terms of what might be lost, consequently the ability to provide fast track alerts - in seconds - regarding any potential fire was extremely attractive.

Active asset protection

Said Tim Maslen, Sales Manager at D-Tec: "In the end, with regards to asset protection, the effectiveness and ease of installation and maintenance of VSD, particularly in the shape of networkable solutions, makes a compelling case to deliver the early warning necessary to minimise the very real risks associated with fire and the consequences of unplanned downtime."

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