With the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technological advancements introduce new possibilities, and the fire protection and detection sector is no exception, highlights leading engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance company Lesedi fire engineer Francois Holtzhausen.
An example is the relatively recent introduction of fibre-optic-based linear heat detection systems which Lesedi used in recent mining fire system designs.
Fibre-optic linear heat detection systems are capable of monitoring and recording accurate temperature profiles over great distances with spatial resolutions of up to 0.25 m and response times of eight seconds or less.
Fibre-optic-based linear heat detection systems are generally suited for areas exposed to extreme environmental conditions where high immunity to false alarms is required. He explains that these systems provide various benefits over conventional linear heat detection systems with international approvals and listings such as EN54, UL, and VdS.
“Fibre-optic linear heat detection systems are generally only considered cost-effective for relatively large systems.”
Holtzhausen explains that smaller systems require a different approach such as pneumatic-electronic linear heat detectors. These detectors are small linear heat detection units that detect rapid changes in temperature by monitoring the change in pressure in small stainless steel capillary tubes.
The units are capable of detecting pressure variations (temperature variations) within 100 ms. The units are small, modular, can tolerate extreme environmental conditions, reliable, have excellent false alarm immunity, and require virtually no maintenance.
The units provide a cost-effective solution instead of larger fibre-optic systems and carry international approvals such as EN54 and FM Global.
According to Holtzhausen, fire safety is multifaceted in that it involves life safety, operations, the environment and public sentiment. In most instances, these aspects are interdependent.
“The construction climate has always been cost-driven and, regrettably, in the past, fire safety has been stigmatised as a nuisance, something that has to be amended in the legislative requirements.”
He adds that safety is one of the core values of Lesedi.
“We believe that fire safety adds value and that there should always be a synergy between cost and risk. At Lesedi, we are driven to deliver fire safety solutions that are economical, sustainable, and fit for purpose. To achieve this, we follow a structured engineered approach in line with international standards to identify and manage project-specific fire safety risks.”
Holtzhausen concludes that Lesedi is currently registered with the South African Institute of Fire Engineers and the fire prevention and protection infrastructure category with the Construction Industry Development Board.
“Our fire engineering team includes an Engineering Council of South Africa registered professional engineer accredited to perform and sign off on rational fire designs to BS7974 standards as required by local building regulations SANS 10400.”
Lesedi has a long history in power generation and nuclear projects, and since 2006 has diversified into a major engineering, procurement and construction company, having completed numerous key projects in nuclear, industrial power, renewables, mining and oil, and gas environments.