Fire Safety from the Bottom
Felixstowe Port Warehouses benefit from Aspirating Smoke Detection
A project to protect the largest warehousing and cross-docking facility in one of the UK’s busiest ports has demonstrated the suitability of aspirating smoke detection (ASD) for buildings characterised by large open spaces and high roofs.
PD Portcentric Logistics is based on the 28-acre site near to Dock Gate One in the Port of Felixstowe on the east coast of the UK. Recognised as a prime location for the import and export of goods, the port is the UK’s largest in terms of size and accommodates some of the world’s biggest ships, including deep-draughted vessels through its extensive deep-water complex. As the largest customs approved warehousing facility in the Port, PD is central to the Felixstowe operation. With 3 warehouses containing a wide range of goods – from FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and general merchandise to retail products and ambient foodstuffs – protecting the contents, as well as the structure of the warehouses themselves, is crucial.
The 3 high-level bay warehouses are protected from fire by a total of 24 Securiton Aspirating Smoke Detection (ASD) detectors from Patol, the exclusive distributor in the UK for Securiton’s SecuriRAS range of ASD systems. The project saw the installation of the detectors and associated pipework by BBC Fire Protection, part of Marlowe plc, who have been supplying fire protection solutions throughout the UK for almost 40 years.
The flexibility offered by the SecuriRAS range was an important factor in the selection of the technology. By using a mix of detectors, the needs of the different areas of the warehouses were met. Eleven ASD 535 two-channel detectors – the flagship model and one of the fastest growing ASD units – were employed across the 3 warehouses, along with thirteen ASD 532 compact single-channel detectors for the smaller areas.
What are the Advantages of ASD?
The benefits offered by ASD systems - which are ultra-sensitive, quiet and unobtrusive - ensure they are an increasingly viable and effective alternative to standard point detection, leading to their widespread adoption across numerous applications.
In the case of high bay warehouses, with their elevated roofs and large open spaces, point detectors can be rendered ineffective due to stratification – the term used when smoke sits in a layer well below the roof – which occurs when the smoke has insufficient thermal buoyancy to reach the roof where the detectors would ordinarily be sited.
Beam detectors are sometimes therefore used as an alternative in warehouse applications but they are inherently low in sensitivity and also prone to false alarms caused by building movement, airborne activity and high-level operation of equipment such as cranes or forklifts interrupting the beams.
Maintenance of roof-mounted detectors at these sorts of heights and in the quantities required to protect such large areas is also problematic. In the PD Portcentric Logistics project, the ASD detectors were placed in strategic locations throughout the warehouses at a low level to ensure ease of access. This was possible because the detection chambers can be placed away from the areas being protected, a particular advantage in buildings with high ceilings but also beneficial for applications with floor voids and other inaccessible areas.
The SecuriRAS range is EN54-20 approved to class A, B & C and provides options for effective, scalable fire monitoring of small single premises through to much larger facilities.