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BS Rodricks

Fire detection systems for the millennium

This paper addresses some new developments in the field of marine fire detection systems. Traditional fire detection principles have been advanced, and new technologies such as smoke and flame detection using closed circuit television and optical fibre real time temperature sensing have been developed. Detection systems have also been enhanced using digital protocol knowledge based expert systems and multi-sensor detectors, and alarm actions developed through the Operator Interface have become more advanced. The use of new technology is becoming more widespread as ship operators increasingly use risk management based philosophies rather than relying on prescriptive SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations to protect their vessels. BS Rodricks, BTech (Hons), MBA, AMIMarE

A fire detection system can be divided into four sections: G The sensing of the fire by detectors G The analysis of the information, using algorithms for analogue addressable systems G The annunciation of the alarm and subsequent actions via the Operator Interface G The communication between sensors and the Operator Interface. burning fires (domain of the ion-chamber detector) and cold, slow smouldering fires (domain of the optical detector). The HPO detector meets this demand. Its design is based on testing which confirmed that flaming fires generate a significant rise in air temperature in the early stages of a fire, together with a small increase in visible smoke. The HPO detector senses both these characteristics, and then uses the rapid change in temperature to adjust the sensitivity of the optical detection chamber and considerably improve the detectors smoke response. It is important to note that this improvement in sensitivity is achieved without an associated increase in the risk of nuisance alarms. This is due to the patented design of the sensing chamber and the optics. Design The HPO detector incorporates a rate-of-rise thermal detection function with the light scattering optical detection principle, whereby the thermal element is used to control the sensitivity of the optical detector. Fire test studies have concluded it is possible that the rapid rise in ambient temperature associated with a flaming fire could be sensed and used to adjust the optical detection sensitivity without increasing the probability of nuisance alarms. To sense this temperature rise, two thermistors are arranged in a similar fashion to that found in a standard rate-of-rise heat detector (Fig 1). One thermistor is mounted so as to be exposed to the air, while the second is shielded inside the detectors body. If the temperature rises slowly then the thermistors temperature will be approximately equal and no adjustment to optical sensitivity occurs. If, however, the air temperature changes very rapidly, the exposed thermistor will heat more quickly than the reference thermistor (heat shielded by the detector body) and a temperature difference will be established. The electrical circuit senses that the exposed thermistor is hotter than the reference thermistor and reduces the alarm threshold of the optical sensor accordingly.
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The high performance optical detector (HPO)
Over the years, environmental responsibility and the stringent regulation required in disposing, cleaning, storing and transporting radioactive ion-chamber detectors has meant that most operators have shied away from their use. There has therefore been a demand for an optical smoke detector that has middle of the road sensitivity to both hot, fast, clean

AUTHOR'S BIOGRAPHY Brian Rodricks is a graduate mechanical engineer. He was employed as a senior seagoing engineer for over 10 years, during which time he completed his First Class Certificate of Competency (Motor). After gaining an MBA in International Business at the City University Business School he joined Thorn Security in 1989 as the marketing manager for their international division. For the last seven years he has been managing the marine and offshore division and in the last three years has taken responsibility for the international division. He is currently the general manager of the marine, offshore and international divisions.


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If there is smoke present at a level above the reduced threshold then an alarm will be raised. Otherwise the detector will remain in its enhanced sensitivity state without giving an alarm until the temperature stabilises. For most day to day events, such as stopping and starting heavy machinery, the temperature rise is far too slow and too small to give any significant enhancement. Therefore, the detector behaves mostly as a normal optical detector. The response of the various smoke detectors to the EN54 fire tests is shown in Table 1. These tests are also used by the marine industry to evaluate smoke detectors. EN54 does not require each detector to be equally sensitive to all fires, rather each one is classified by its sensitivity to a given fire type, A, B, C or N, where A denotes the highest sensitivity level and N is defined as unclassified or unsuitable. Under EN54 approval, a detector is deemed suitable for use provided the test results achieve A, B or C classification. Only detectors classified as N are unsuitable for the defined application. The purpose of such fire sensitivity classification is to give the user an indication of the suitability of a detector type for a particular potential fire risk. Performance results From the test results it can be seen that the HPO detector performs significantly better than standard optical detectors, and much more uniformly across TF1 to TF5. This middle of the road response will help reduce the number of unwanted false alarms. Additional realistic fire tests have been carried out for Thorn at the Fire Research Station Laboratory, Cardington, UK. An example of one of the tests involved a paper sack full of mixed rubbish, typical of that emptied from wastepaper baskets. The difference in performance between the ion-chamber and the HPO was very small, and the normal optical detector only just reached the alarm level sometime later. Similar results were found in other flaming fires, while in slowly developing fires, the high performance optical outperformed the ion-chamber detector with responses close to that of a normal optical detector. Conclusion The HPO detector design is based upon proven lowcost optical scatter technology. The incorporation of the heat sensing technique allows the detector to be sensitive to both flaming and smouldering fires. Its operations characteristics provide an inherent immunity from nuisance alarms because the normal sensitivity of the detector is maintained at its lowest level. This is accomplished with complete confidence that any rapid change in ambient air temperature will begin to sensitise the detector and allow for immediate detection of the fire. The use of this detector that contains no radioactive material, together with its systems design flexibility, now offers the ship operator a cost effective, stable, false alarm free alternative to the ion-chamber detector.

Fire designation
TF1 TF2 TF3 TF4 TF5 TF6 Open cellulosic fire (wood) Smouldering pyrolysis fire (wood) Glowing smouldering fire (cotton) Open plastics fire (polyurethane) Liquid fire (n-heptane) Liquid fire (methylated spirits)

Classification Ion Optical HPO


Table 1 Suitability test results (high performance optical detector)

Response to EN54: Part 9 test fires of ion-chamber, optical and high-performance optical smoke detectors

not address the inherent problems in the detector design. Smoke is propagated by air currents, while heat is radiated. The best position for a heat detector is normally not the best place for a smoke detector, and the location of the detector was always a compromise. Nowadays, with attitudes to risk management changing, operators use combined smoke and heat detectors where individual outputs are available for the smoke and heat signals to help them visualise emergency scenarios and decide on the best course of action. The smoke detectors follow the spread of smoke at the same time as the real time readout of the temperature takes place, helping the operator to identify the spread of fire and any hot spots. Control panels that can give out this information and then perform a trend analysis are now available. The construction of the detector is similar to the HPO detector, but the heat and smoke readings are totally independent of each other. It is a multi-sensor virtual device with various modes (normal, low or high sensitivity) configured in software, including the HPO option.

Carbon monoxide (CO) fire detectors

Irrespective of how intelligent a smoke detector is, smoke cannot be sensed and an alarm decision made until smoke is actually introduced to the detector. In order for this to happen two assumptions are made. Firstly, that the seat of the fire will be such that smoke will travel to the smoke detector. Secondly, that the combustion characteristics of the fire will be such that a detectable amount of smoke is produced in sufficient time for effective evacuation to take place. Detecting real fires with carbon monoxide detectors Research has shown that the above assumptions are fundamentally flawed in many applications. When detectors are positioned, the location of the seat of any potential fire cannot be known, while airflow in the area is usually either unknown or not taken into account. Installation standards and codes of practice help limit the room for error, but it is almost impossible to position a smoke detector and guarantee the smoke will reach it quickly. It is even more difficult if the protected area is large and open or the seat of the fire is in a hidden area such as a linen locker or an adjacent unprotected room. Research into slow smouldering fires,1 typical of those started by discarded cigarette ends in soft furnishings, shows that smoke may not be emitted for several minutes, even hours, after ignition (Fig 2). During this time, insidious carbon monoxide gas can build up to

Multi-sensor detectors
Early use of multi-sensors was confined to detectors where the shortcomings of one type of sensor were supplemented by another detection principle to reduce the amount of false alarms. However, this did
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such a high level that sleeping persons, on awakening, are too disoriented to evacuate the area. Moreover, when smoke does reach the detector it can frequently be too late to stop the rapid spread of the fire. It is also well known that smoke escaping into corridors can cool and fall to the floor, making them impassable by the time the smoke reaches the detectors at the ceiling (Fig 3). Smoke can also be prevented from reaching the detectors by barriers of hot air building towards the ceiling. Smoke detector test fires Detector test fires, such as those used in EN54 part 9, provide a repeatable method of comparing the performance of smoke detectors. They are specifically designed to generate predictable levels and types of smoke that can be used to determine and classify the performance of smoke detectors. They are not designed to generate and quantify other products of combustion and therefore do not represent real fires. Unlike a real fire, the seat of the fire, the position of the detector relative to it, and the air movement are known. In addition, some tests are designed to produce large quantities of smoke through pyrolysis prior to combustion taking place. These issues are not highlighted to invalidate the tests but to illustrate that their function is to provide comparative tests of smoke detectors, and to suggest that where smoke is not the prime product of combustion being detected, alternatives to the test fires currently specified in the standards need to be found. As can be expected, CO fire detectors react well to some smoke detector tests and badly to others. For example, a good response will be obtained in both EN54 TF2 and TF3, whilst TF4 and TF5 do not produce sufficient CO gas during the period of the test to trigger an alarm. The ability of CO fire detectors to pass smoke detector tests clearly depends on the nature of the test, but this does not mean that they are not a good indicator of real fires. Real fire tests In order to assess the ability of CO fire detectors, fire tests that included a variety of fires in real situations using purpose built test rigs, were carried out over several years. The first rig was designed to simulate a high roofed area such as a ships hold. Tests carried out on this rig with a variety of fires showed that CO fire detectors located above the seat of the fire reacted in a very similar time to smoke detectors. However, CO fire detectors mounted further away reacted much quicker and were immune to obstructions when they were recessed (Fig 4). The second rig simulated a large open area such as a warehouse. Whilst all the different types of detectors mounted close to the seat of the fire reacted in similar times, the CO detectors mounted at ceiling height reacted considerably faster and were far less affected by thermal barriers. A third rig simulated adjacent rooms. Wastepaper bin fires showed CO fire detectors reacting quicker than smoke detectors especially in rooms with no ventilation. Even CO detectors above the ceiling tiles reacted faster than some smoke detectors below them (Fig 5). CO fire detectors resistance to unwanted and false alarms There are many false alarm sources for smoke detec26

tors such as steam, dust and chemical aerosols that CO fire detectors are inherently immune to. Even false alarm sources where carbon monoxide is produced are less prone to unwanted alarm, as the carbon monoxide distributes evenly through a space rather than concentrating in plumes to provide a false alarm source as seen with smoke detectors. Whilst not completely immune, CO fire detectors have been shown to be far more resilient than smoke detectors to false alarm sources from smokers2 and overheating food. Extensive research has also shown that an alarm threshold can be selected for CO detectors that whilst providing a very early warning of a potential fire, leaves them insensitive to sources of ambient CO such as cookers and running diesel engines. Design The CO detector uses an electrochemical cell to detect the build-up of carbon monoxide generated by fires. The cell operates by oxidising carbon monoxide on a platinum-sensing electrode, while the other half of the reaction takes place on a corresponding counter electrode. The sensing cell is represented diagrammatically in Fig 6. When this reaction takes place the potential across the cell tries to change and this causes a current to flow within the circuit around the cell. The current is mirrored into a current-to-voltage conversion circuit, and the resulting output is directly proportional to the carbon monoxide concentration. The cell itself has a diffusion-limiting component to ensure that all carbon monoxide in the area proximate to the sensing electrode is continuously oxidised. This means that the rate that carbon monoxide is transported to the cell is directly proportional to the external concentration and independent of airspeed. Main applications for CO fire detectors CO fire detectors are particularly well suited to accommodation areas where there is a risk of slow smouldering fires causing death through the build-up of CO. The flexibility of detector positioning relative to the seat of the fire makes them ideal in large, open and complex areas such as cargo holds and theatres and areas with complex and uneven ceilings. The resistance of CO fire detectors to false alarms makes them well suited to cabins and laundry rooms where steam and water mist can cause problems. In galleys and mess rooms where scorched toast and similar causes of false alarms are prevalent, the alarm threshold will only be reached once the toast is actually burning. Like optical smoke detectors, CO fire detectors are far more environmentally friendly than ionisation detectors and can be manufactured to allow most of the detector to be recycled. Conclusions Extensive research has shown that CO fire detectors are far more sensitive than smoke detectors to the location of the start of a fire and are far superior in the early detection of smouldering fires in accommodation areas. They have also proved to be particularly resilient to many common smoke detector false alarm sources. Like other fire detection technologies, CO fire detection does have some limitations that must be taken into account when selecting suitable applications. Using a combination of CO fire detectors and
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heat/optical algorithmic smoke detectors (such as the HPO detectors) across the range of fire risks provides a comprehensive life and property protection solution. Applied correctly these detectors enable rapid detection, elimination of false alarms, reduction in unwanted alarms and complete elimination of the need for radioactive ionisation detectors.

possible to isolate smoke sensor parts, leaving the heat part of the sensor and callpoints working irrespective of how they are wired in the field.


The term algorithms means calculation process, running according to a specific pattern. In the broadest sense, every software program can be said to involve an algorithm, and here also, a process is performed according to a fixed, pre-determined pattern. A new method used by Thorn uses a multi-parameter, multi-criteria algorithm incorporating fuzzy logic. A diagram of the evaluation method is given in Fig 7. Fluctuation, gradient and fire duration characteristics are derived from the measurement over time with the aid of specially developed algorithms. Studies of large data samples of both fire and nonfire situations have revealed that a marked fluctuation normally indicates a fault situation and rarely indicates fire. The gradient concept provides information on the graduated duration of a signal rise and extremely sharp signal rises can indicate a false alarm. Fire duration indicates how long a situation has been identified as an emergency. Fires normally develop relatively slowly, rather than in an explosive manner and important inferences can be made from the information that indicates how long a situation has corresponded to a fire. The quiescent values can be used to obtain useful information from the signal pattern. A typical use would be, for example, to indicate the degree of contamination of an individual detector. The evaluation process is now implemented on the basis of fuzzy logic.3,4 Generally speaking, three procedural steps can be distinguished in fuzzy logic: G Fuzzification - a defined value is converted into a soft, fuzzy value. The fuzzy value is not a unit and can therefore be processed in the knowledge base. G Knowledge base - the soft values are processed according to defined rules and an output variable is calculated from them. G Defuzzification - converts the still fuzzy result of the output variable into a defined, technically usable parameter, which in fire detection terms is quiescent, fault, alarm. For the system to work effectively, the knowledge base should be representative of fire and false alarm situations. The knowledge base used here consists of thousands of such situations and research experiments collected over a period of 80 years. The use of fuzzy logic means that alarm thresholds can move quickly both upward and downward, resulting in earlier detection with fewer false alarms.

Advances in LCD technology and processing power means that it is possible for the Operator Interface to present the operator with a considerable amount of information. Some systems on the market offer a number of features, some of which are discussed below. Temperature and smoke density information This allows the operator to identify the seat of any hot spots and to track them over time, while the smoke obscuration percentage allows him/her to make a judgement on the amount of smoke in an area. Together they could give an idea of the intensity of the fire. Risk management information This allows the operator to pre-programme information on risks in the areas of the incident while giving details on the position of fire fighting appliances and closest exits. Pre-defined instructions can also be stored and linked to various areas. Group detection Where there are a number of detectors in the same open space, their various signals could be analysed via the knowledge-based expert system to identify fires earlier while reducing false alarms. Extensive cause and effect programming As part of a fire fighting strategy it may be required to shut down dampers, activate fans, and shut down other machinery. This can all be done via the addressable loops and controlled through the cause and effect programming. Dirtiness levels in detector The control panel will identify when a detector needs to be replaced, while the operator can check on how dirty the detector is at any time. Self-verification functions SOLAS required operators to regularly test the system, and by including inbuilt testing mechanisms in the detectors it is now possible to test devices from the sensing chamber all the way back to the control panel. Daily/weekly tests can take place at the touch of a button with a printout of any devices that have failed the test. Remote diagnostics With the pressure to reduce manning levels it would be advantageous if fault finding could be carried out remotely. It is now possible for the manufacturer to access the fire detection system remotely from a service centre so they can assist the ships staff in identifying and resolving problems and assisting with maintenance. Isolation by zone/type of device For maintenance or while loading on car decks, it is
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Equipment can be affected by external electromagnetic radiation and radio frequency interference, especially on vessels with various types of electrical/ electronic machinery and controls. The use of a true digital rather than an analogue protocol helps to eliminate the effect of this interference on loop com27

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munication. The communication method is Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) with sinusoidal waveform. The main differentiation between logic 0 and logic 1 is determined by the width of the sine wave. There are two important aspects of the signal, the point where the frequency changes occur and the period. Fig 8 shows the general structure of one such digital protocol signal and its discriminated output. The use of two frequencies of around 6K and 3K means that it is much easier to eliminate both high frequency and low frequency interference using intelligent discrimination circuits incorporating noise reduction filters. Signal edges do not get distorted as a result of cable capacitance/inductance. More common square waves become rounded at the edges, and the rounded shape of the signal results in negligible radiated emissions. Square wave signals produce much higher emissions due to the sharp rise and fall times of the signal edges. All this means that a wide range of cable types including unscreened cable can be used.

G Molecular vibrations (Raman scattering) - like the Brillouin scattering, this is of sufficient intensity to be suitable for temperature sensing. The signal is split into two bands (stokes and anti-stokes), displaced roughly symmetrically about the incident wavelength (Fig 10). The displacement of the Raman bands is sufficiently large to enable the signals to be separated by a filter from the other backscatter components and detected with an Avalanche Photodiode Detector (APD). The band of longer wavelengths (stokes) is only weakly temperature sensitive but the band of shorter wavelengths (anti-stokes) exhibits a distinct sensitivity to temperature. Signal Types G Stokes band - the stokes wavelengths are used to define the non-temperature sensitive (NTS) signal. This is also known as the reference signal. It is used to analyse the integrity of the fibre, which includes measuring the fibre losses and detecting breaks. G Anti-stokes band - the anti-stokes band forms the temperature sensitive (TTS) signal. It is the main component used in the temperature computation. Knowing the speed of propagation at the various wavelengths, it is possible to plot each of the signals on a graph showing backscatter power versus temperature (Fig 11).


Conventional temperature sensing using discrete sensors such as thermocouples or platinum resistance thermometers provides data at a single point, which may be interpreted as an average reading over a localised area. A more elegant solution is the use of a distributed temperature sensor which is intrinsically multiplexed, allowing many hundreds or even thousands of points to be monitored with a single sensor.

The optical fibre sensor

Optical fibre itself has several important advantages as a sensing medium. The signals are immune to electromagnetic interference, thereby ensuring the integrity of readings from electrically noisy areas. Moreover, as no electric current is used in the sensing fibre and the fibre is a relatively inert and dielectric (nonconducting) medium, it is safe to use in Zone 2 hazardous environments. The sensor element within the system is a communications grade optical fibre of the 62.5/125 graded index multimode type. The temperature range is predominantly a function of the coating used to protect the optical fibre, as the fibre itself functions well at temperatures ranging from below 50 C to approximately 300C. Coatings have been tested at temperatures as low as 190 C (acrylate) and as high as 460C (metallic). The system measurement accuracy suffers below 50C due to non-linear effects in the opto-electronics within the system. At the lower cryogenic temperatures, care must be taken that the coating does not exert mechanical stress on the fibre and affect its durability, or cause micro bending which would increase its loss. The factor affecting the distance at which the system can make a temperature measurement is the attenuation of the optical fibre sensor (ie, rate at which power is lost). The system can continue to operate in the event of a fibre break by exploiting signal processing techniques. Provided that the break-detect option has been selected and it has been set up in a loop configuration, the system will automatically invoke single ended processing from both ends of the loop when the fibre break is detected. It can reconstitute the temperature profile of the entire fibre length regardless of the position of the break. Depending on the nature of the break a few measurement points in its immediate vicinity may be lost. In the case of multiple breaks, the
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Optical time domain reflectometry

A distributed temperature sensing solution is now available, based on the principles of Optical Time Domain Reflectometry (OTDR). Backscatter A laser source launches a pulse of light into an optical fibre. As the pulse travels down the fibre, energy is lost through scattering. A fraction of the scattered signal is retained within the fibre and a portion of this is directed back along the fibre towards the laser source. This signal is called backscatter. The backscatter signal is split off by a directional coupler, which is then optically filtered and presented to a detector. This technique has been traditionally used within the telecommunications industry to check the integrity of optical fibres (Fig 9). Scattering is due to: G Variations in density and composition of the medium (Rayleigh scattering) - although the strongest component of the scattered light spectrum,(Fig 10), it is only very weakly sensitive to temperature and therefore cannot be used for temperature sensing. G Bulk vibrations (Brillouin scattering) - is temperature sensitive and produces a relatively strong signal. Unfortunately, the Brillouin and Rayleigh signals are relatively close to each other in the frequency spectrum (Fig 10), so detecting the Brillouin component is very difficult and requires special sources and filters. Therefore, this too is not suitable for temperature sensing.

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length accessible to the system will continue to be measured. Temperature resolution overcomes the uncertainty in the temperature information resulting from inherent noise in the opto-electronics. The temperature measured at a given point in the fibre may vary between successive measurements. The accuracy of the measurement is determined by a range of factors including the linearity and reproducibility of the electronics, the robustness of the signal processing, and the calibration of the system to the fibre to be measured. The overall result is a complete system that can be programmed to operate as a fixed temperature or rate-of-rise temperature detector, with accurate temperature information from many discrete points along the entire fibre length. A complete temperature profile of the fibre sensor cable is thus obtained. The system configuration is shown in Fig 12. Temperature profile information is typically available from a RS232 port on the terminal equipment and can be viewed via special PC based applications. Once the information is input to a PC, many other features are immediately available, including remote diagnostics and system interrogation via a modem connection. The information can also be integrated into a fire detection graphics package. The systems can be programmed into multiple fire detection zones, which are of programmable length and position along the fibre sensor. Each zone can have multiple (programmable) fire detection trip levels. The temperature trip levels can be set as a function of fixed and/or rate-of-rise in temperature. The systems can thus produce early warning (prealarm) signals, and alert attention to a potential fire alarm condition prior to an executive action being taken. The optical fibre temperature sensing system has a wide range of applications, especially where: a) Maintenance is very difficult and a fit and forget solution is required G Drilling areas on platforms and drill rigs G Cable tunnels and trays G Cargo holds G Conveyor belts on self-unloading vessels. b) Small changes in temperature need to be detected G Pipe leakages G Overheating of sensitive equipment G Magazine areas on warships. c) The above needs to be carried out in a hazardous environment.

The system uses standard CCTV cameras, and functions by comparing one frame with the next, so that any change can be evaluated. Compound Obscuration evaluates the total attenuation of light from the camera to the furthest point in the field of view. The algorithm is able to de-couple smoke quantity from smoke density ie, large clouds of thin smoke can be identified as well as small areas of dense smoke. The 64 000 pixels that make up the full screen are evaluated every second. Any change in the light attenuation will cause the system to alarm depending on the thresholds set. A schematic diagram of the system is shown in Fig 13. The system takes a feed off the cameras before the multiplexer. The signals are evaluated using the algorithms in the Video Fire Detection Hub and are presented at the alarm annunciator. The detection system can then be configured to alarm if a user-selectable number of pixels are obscured to a defined density of smoke. Because standard CCTV equipment is used, it is suitable to be added to existing CCTV systems onboard ships. As all the evaluation is done in software and is programmable, the system can also be used to detect visible oil mist and high pressure oil leakage from pipes and steam leaks the moment they occur. However, when used in exposed areas, there is a danger that false alarms could be generated because of fog and this will need to be addressed.

On offshore installations and onboard ships there has been a tendency to move away from Ultra Violet (UV) flame detectors and use triple waveband infrared flame detectors instead. The reason for this is more easily explained by Fig 14. UV flame detectors are very sensitive to arc-welding, electrical arcs, x-rays and lighting. Although it is possible to eliminate false alarms from lighting and electrical arcs by the inclusion of time delay processing, their elimination from arc welding and x-rays is much more difficult to achieve. The detectors sensitivity to these false alarm sources can be a significant problem. There are external influences, whose presence can have a detrimental effect on the ability of the detector to see flame radiation. The main inhibitors of UV propagation are oil mists or films, heavy smoke or hydrocarbon vapour and water films. These phenomena are present in machinery spaces and on offshore platforms and can significantly reduce the intensity of the UV signal if present in the flame detection path. The shortcomings of UV detectors in offshore and machinery space applications have resulted in operators preferring the triple wavelength infrared (IR) flame detector, the use of which has meant that the main shortcomings of infrared flame detectors, namely response to solar radiation and black body radiation, has been overcome.


As with most point fire detectors, the location of the detector is important. In large open spaces, both smoke and flame detectors are used. In cathedraltype machinery spaces, atria and open spaces on fighting ships, it is important that an alarm is raised as quickly as possible, preferably the moment smoke is produced. The Closed Circuit Smoke and Flame Detection System can do this, and does not require the operator to be constantly watching the monitors because it annunciates an alarm automatically.
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Triple wavelength infrared flame detectors

When organic material burns, (Fig 15) large amounts of hot carbon dioxide are produced and the burning process emits IR radiation at 4.3 m. However, the

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atmospheric absorption provides high IR absorption at 4.3m, which significantly reduces the solar radiation reaching the Earths surface. It also limits the effective range of an IR detector, since atmospheric absorption will affect the radiation emitted from a carbonaceous fire. Some IR detectors are tuned to respond to the H2O emission band by using a single infrared channel tuned to 2.9m. This can enable these sensors to detect fire from non-hydrocarbon based materials. IR detectors generally incorporate lens/filter arrangements, with a band pass filter operating at 4.3 m making it blind to solar radiation. More sophisticated filtering techniques and/or selected electronic signal processing is used in the design of the latest, multi-channel IR flame detectors to reduce false alarms further. The detectors monitor the infrared spectrum at three chosen frequencies. One sensor monitors the CO2 emission band at 4.3m, while the other two frequencies, normally situated on either side of the band, are used to monitor the background infrared level. The main objective of using these frequencies is to allow the detector to predict the amount of black body radiation present in the field of view more accurately. The detector can account for the differences in hot and cold black body radiation present a function that cannot be accurately predicted by dual channel IR detectors. It can detect fires in the presence of black body radiation, but this can vary significantly depending on the design of the detector. Some detectors may be less sensitive to genuine fire conditions than others, particularly in the presence of black body radiation from a cold black body. Using signal-processing techniques, the three signals are correlated and the device decides if a true alarm condition is present. Typical parameters used in these detectors are: G Ratio of the reference sensors to the CO 2 emission band sensor G Correlation between the sensors G The relative amplitude of received signal from each sensor G The flicker frequency of each sensor. Elimination of nuisance alarms from modulated black body sources The design of the detector incorporates an optical filter, which enables a single electronic IR sensor to measure the radiated energy present in two separate wavebands placed on either side of the flame detection waveband, at 3.8 m and 4.8 m respectively. The signal obtained from these guard channels is cross-correlated with the signal from the flame detection channel to provide an accurate prediction of the non-flame energy present in the flame detection waveband. This prediction is independent of the temperature of the radiation source, allowing the IR sensor to provide black body rejection over a wide range of source temperatures. Fig 16 shows the amount of energy emitted by a hot object (black body) as viewed in the electromagnetic spectrum. This curve has a peak that moves further to the left with higher temperature objects. The amount of energy between 3.8 m and 4.8m can be approximated to a linear function, thus a measure-

ment of the energy at these two wavelengths will provide the information to calculate the level of black body radiation at the intermediate flame detection frequency of 4.3m. The energy from the hot carbon dioxide given by the flame is superimposed on that from any black body in the detector field of view without adding any significant emissions at 3.8m or 4.8m. This enables the proper segregation of non-flame and flame signals. As a large fire could produce a large amount of black smoke which will behave like a black body and may weaken the carbon dioxide peak, signals greater than a pre-determined upper limit will be classed as a fire. The use of an optical processing technique as opposed to two separate electronic sensors improves the overall reliability of the detector by reducing the number of components and eliminating the need for complex calibration procedures during manufacture. Detection of flame in the presence of black body radiation The ability of the detector to determine accurately the amount of non-flame radiation received at any one time by the flame detection channel allows a variable alarm threshold to be determined (Fig 17). This threshold is positioned to minimise the possibility of a false alarm due to the presence of modulated black body sources of different temperature and intensity.

The technologies and principles discussed allow the operator more flexibility in making decisions on how to protect his vessel. They are by no means the only developments taking place, but the developments discussed will play a major part in protecting vessels in the future. They allow the operator to design fire detection systems based on risk management scenarios which are more in keeping with protecting the sophisticated vessels of tomorrow.

1. JA Harwood, JA Moseley, PT Peat, CA and R Reynolds, The Use of Low Power Carbon Monoxide Sensors to Provide Early Warning of Fire, A Fire Journal. 2. Kirk, Hunter, Baek, Lester and Perry, Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Indoor Air, Ambient Air Quality Conference Proceedings , London(1988). 2. G Hekestad and JS Newman, Fire Detection Using Cross-Correlations of Sensor Signals, Fire Safety Journal 18, pp 335-374 (1992). 3. H Zimmermann, Fuzzy Technologien [Fuzzy Technologies], VDI-Verlag, Dusseldorf (1993). 4. J Kahlert and H Frank, Fuzzy-Logik und FuzzyKontrol [Fuzzy Logic and Fuzzy Control], ViewegVerlag, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden (1994).

The author would like to acknowledge the contribution to this paper of his colleagues in the Research and Development Department of Thorn Security Limited. They were instrumental in providing the information and comment that allowed this paper to be written.


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Fig 1 High performance optical detector

Fig 2 Results from Fire 20: Cloth covered fire retardant polyurethane foam
The fire is started 5.5 hours before flaming ignition. The ceiling mounted CO fire detector operates 3.5 hours after ignition. The floor mounted CO fire detector operates 4 hours after ignition. The first smoke detector alarms 4.5 hours after ignition, by which time CO levels are in excess of 250ppm, severely affecting occupants ability to escape

Fig 3 Measurements in escape corridor adjacent to a burning room (door closed)

The smoke detector alarms 20 minutes after the CO fire detector when the corridor is full of smoke

Fig 4 Ship fire 3, slow smoulder, all sensors board 3:

During the period of the fire the smoke detectors gave no reaction

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Fig 5 Relative rate of detection of a smouldering waste bin fire in an office:

The CO fire detector picks up the fire in half the time of the photoelectric smoke detector. Even CO fire detectors mounted behind the ceiling reacted more quickly than the ionisation detector

Fig 6 Representational diagram of CO sensing cell

Fig 7 Algorithm using fuzzy logic

Fig 8 General structure of a digital protocol signal and its discriminated output


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Fig 9 Principle of backscatter measurement

Fig 10 Backscatter spectrum

Fig 11 Anti-stokes backscatter power v temperature graph

Fig 12 System components

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Fig 13 Schematic video smoke and flame

Fig 14 Comparison of ultra violet and infra red flame detectors

Fig 15 Typical hydrocarbon fire spectrum

Fig 16 Blackbody rejection


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Fig 17 Alarm/black body signals

J Butchers, MER With machinery space fires still featuring high on the list of casualties, has there been a failure in the fire detection systems ability to identify a fire in sufficient time to cope with the outbreak? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) Fire detection in machinery spaces normally follows smoke and heat detection principles as laid down in SOLAS. The smoke must get to the detector before it can alarm, but the ventilation and complex nature of machinery spaces makes the detection of smoke difficult, compounded by the fact that there is an abundant supply of oxygen and combustible material in most machinery spaces. More operators are using risk management techniques to evaluate and contain risks. This is leading to the employment of other detection principles such as flame detectors, which can detect flame within seconds. CCTV smoke detection systems are now being regularly recommended as they detect smoke within seconds, allowing the operators to make decisions very quickly. T Strang (Carnival Corporation Technical Services) What type of detector would you recommend using for activation of local spot protection fire extinguishing systems in engine rooms? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) The most common method uses a combination of smoke and flame detection principles. To give higher reliability prior to executive actions, a voting system may be employed eg, the use of an alarm from two out of three detectors in the system or from two different types of detectors. This system can be made very flexible to give higher reliabilities. Highly reliable flame detectors with negligible false alarm rates are needed, and the triple-wavelength infrared flame detector admirably fills this role. The choice of a smoke detector is more difficult. Their stability in different air flows, the sensitivity of ion chamber detectors and humidity are all important issues. Optical detectors with high signal to noise ratio are more stable but need visible smoke to reach the detector. The use of detection systems to trigger executive actions has been used extensively in offshore applications. Gas detection is used to help identify emergency situations early. The carbon monoxide detector is currently on trial as a third detection principle in the machinery space to detect fire early and reliably. A combination of the three detection principles could give the operator very early and highly reliable fire detection. T Strang (Carnival Corporation Technical Services) What is the current status of the CO detector approval? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) The combined Carbon Monoxide and Heat detector has already passed all the EN54-7 smoke tests, and reports should be with classification societies soon. D Curry (MoD, Bath) Greater functionality in fire detection is a welcome development, not only to improve alarm reliability, but also to enable the fire detection system to provide information other than the alarm to assist ships staff in interpreting a fire situation. However, we must recognise that these developments are likely to come with a considerable increase in the complexity of the system software, an issue that needs due consideration. B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) The benefits of modern software need to be balanced against the issue of reliability. Software development needs to take place under defined quality standards with documented methods of testing. Testing does not guarantee fault free operation, but software developed under quality standards and used in hundreds and hundreds of installations is the best insurance a customer can have.

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A Lough (Lloyds Register) To what standards has the software been developed? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) The software is commercial software developed in accordance with ISO 9001 and EN54. A Lough (Lloyd's Register) Can the system be altered by the ships staff, and if so, to what extent? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) Changes made by ship staff during normal operation are not normally allowed for safety reasons. The panel has a set of password levels for security, but changes to the configuration need more than a password. Descriptions and sensitivities can be changed through the front panel, which keeps a log of all the changes made and identifies them when the service engineer logs on. Checks and balances included in the software allow the differences between old and new configurations to be checked so that the service engineer can be confident of any changes made. Dr J Cowley (Hon Fellow, IMarE) A requirement of the new IMO International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code) is that fire detection and fire alarm systems with zone addresses identification capability must be arranged to ensure that any fault occurring in the loop will not render the whole loop ineffective. Would the system described meet this new requirement? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) The system more than adequately complies with the new IMO Code requirements and has some added safety features. Faults on the loop can be isolated so that only a few devices are affected, and through good system design this can be reduced to a single device. Compared to a conventional system this gives a much higher availability. Dr J Cowley (Hon Fellow, IMarE) The United States delegation at IMO recently proposed that it should be mandatory for a local alarm to be sounded when a fire detector operates in a passengers cabin. Could the new Thorn fire detection system incorporate such a requirement? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) The new system has been designed to comply with future legislation on sounders in accommodation areas. The design of the sounders complies with the international recognised EN54-3 and UL268 standards, which all new legislation will undoubtedly call for. The sounders can be loop powered, and advanced cause and effect programming allows local detectors to sound alerts in adjacent cabins and alleyways. The sounders can be programmed to activate for a fixed time period or to be silenced when the PA is in use. Dr J Cowley (Hon Fellow, IMarE) The development of optical smoke detectors has resulted in a more reliable alternative to ionisation detectors for use in machinery and accommodation spaces. The high performance

optical smoke detector is a further notable advance. However, serious casualties have still occurred in machinery spaces fitted with smoke detectors. Fires are often proceeded by explosions of varying intensity, and in many cases the fuel (oil spray) is vaporised but not ignited immediately by contact with hot surfaces (immediate ignition would cause a fire, which would be detected by smoke detectors). Unless the leakage is detected, vaporisation continues and the oil mist spreads until a source of ignition is reached. Some vapour clouds can be detected by detectors designed for smoke detection, but some photooptical detectors are specifically designed to detect oil mists. There is a difference in design between photo-optical detectors designed for smoke detection and those designed for vapour detection, but are the differences solely related to the angle between the incident beam and the detector, or are other factors important? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) Photo-optical detectors for smoke and vapour both look at obscuration of the light path, and the particle size for smoke is much larger than the particle size for vapour. Lack of familiarity with the exact details for the design of detectors for oil mist makes further comment on them undesirable, but the problem with both detectors is the same. They need the smoke or oil mist to be introduced to the device, which may not be easy in machinery spaces. A good solution is the new CCTV system, which can identify visible oil and steam leaks and other changes and flag them up to the operator immediately. Dr J Cowley (Hon Fellow, IMarE) The development of CO detectors is a major advance in the attempt to avoid deaths by CO poisoning. There appears to be no reason why such detectors may not be used in ships under IMO or FSS requirements, but due to their comparatively recent development, there are no recognised standards for them. The UK delegation at IMO is proposing that carbon monoxide fire detectors should be as reliable and sensitive as SOLAS approved smoke detectors (EN 54 Part 7 Test Fires), and should be able to detect a variety of fires that can occur in accommodation spaces. It is understood that CO fire detectors augmented by rate of rise temperature detection achieve at least the same level of performance with EN 54 Part 7 as smoke detectors. What is the current situation, and what are the prospects for CO detector use in passenger ship accommodation? B Rodricks (Thorn Security Ltd) Thousands of CO detectors are being used in hotels and offices worldwide as more clients see their ability to increase life safety. The risk of fire in passenger accommodation is similar to that found in hotels. Tests show that in such sleeping risk areas the CO detectors are far superior to smoke detectors in detecting fires, and they reduce unwanted alarms by over 99%. As stated in the reply to Mr Strang, marine tests for the detector are complete and it only remains for the report to be sent to the various marine authorities.
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