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Integrating Fire and Gas Safety with
Process Control Systems:
Why, What and How
If a fire or gas leak is detected in an industrial facility, prescriptive
actions must be taken by the fire and gas safety system, as well as
the process control system to mitigate and control the hazard. Using a
certified, documented fire and gas safety system that can communicate
appropriate messages to the process control system during an event
is vital to the safety of a facility and its inhabitants. But, specifying and
integrating these two systems is no simple matter.

Under certain conditions, the processes in industrial, high But first, here is a simple overview of what makes up
hazard manufacturing or processing plants can threaten process control and safety systems.
the safety of employees, operations and the environment.
Process Control
In these settings, a fire and gas (F&G) safety system is
1. Process Control System (PCS)
the layer of protection responsible for mitigating the
2. Process Instrumentation
consequences of a hazardous event once it has occurred.
Consider a chemical plant where flammable materials 1. Process Shutdown System (PSD)
continue to be pumped into an area where fire has 2. Emergency Shutdown System (ESD)
been detected. In hazardous situations like this, it is 3. Fire & Gas Safety System (F&G)
imperative that an F&G safety system communicate
• Flame, Gas and Smoke Detection
with the Process Control System (PCS). To address
• Safety System Controller
these situations, the relationship between a plant’s F&G
• Notification and Suppression/Activation
safety system and the operation’s PCS is prescribed by
multiple standards. In the United States, National Fire Protection Association
standard NFPA 72® National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
dictates that the F&G safety system cannot
be interrupted by the PCS. Independence between these
systems is also recommended by two highly regarded
international regulatory bodies: 1) NORSOK, whose
standards are supported by the Norwegian Oil and Gas
Association and the Federation of Norwegian Industries; and
2) the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an independent
regulatory body in Great Britain. (See Resources list.)

To fulfill the standards of both the Petroleum Safety
Authority Norway (PSA) and the International
Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC 61508 and IEC 61511,
Guidelines for F&G safety systems come from standards NORSOK requires: “…independencies between safety
organizations, regulatory bodies, industry groups and systems, i.e., a failure in one system shall not adversely affect
insurance companies. 800-765-3473

the Occupational procurement. F&G detection systems supplement process information systems with instrumentation that is located external to the process to warn of conditions that could be considered harmful if Industrial processes. Regulations (COMAH) refers to the Engineering and some already have been mentioned. According to following guidelines such as NFPA 72 and NFPA 70® The Dennis P.det-tronics. Nolan. Insurance companies such as Factory Mutual (FM) Global they do not prescribe how the systems should be and Lloyd’s of London provide guidelines for specific risks integrated or define F&G safety system communication found within industrial processes. protected by an F&G safety system that can detect and provide a warning of hazardous conditions. system communications.E. American system should be designed in accordance with IEC 61508 Petroleum Institute (API). the safety system controller.” internationally recognized IECex standards.and control system and other alarms unless it has also been industry-specific standards. What: The flame and gas system But before getting into the “how” of control and An F&G safety system is comprised of several subsystems communications for an F&G safety 800-765-3473 . and well as the components that make up these systems. Common Equipment Users Association’s Publication.” which states.e. gas and to take a look at why F&G safety systems are necessary as smoke detection. or from the PSD system to F&G. “The overall objective of F&G detection systems is to warn of possible impending events that may be threatening to life.” be unable to report (i. also need to be found outside the normal process environment. and UL. while systems. that “the alarm Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Why: The drivers for F&G safety systems Detection — the backbone The overall role of an F&G safety system is to mitigate the Flame and gas detectors must be performance- results of hazardous events — but the system’s first role certified and capable for use in hazardous applications.. is to detect hazards. quickly and accurately. it is important that can include. property of continued business operations that are external to the process operation.” and “the global regulations are in place to ensure the safety alarm system should be independent from the process of the industrial work place. but are not limited to. flame. www.” Nolan notes. “Process controls and instrumentation only provide feedback for conditions within the process system. However. in his Handbook of Fire & Explosion Protecting Engineering Principals. The result is several possible approaches local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) often enforce for F&G safety system integration and process control their own standards specific to the location involved. industry codes and standards in Alarm systems: a guide to design. management and the United States include NFPA. Manufacturing companies protocols regarding process control/process shutdown may also draft and enforce mandates related to safety. reading of major process releases or to report conditions from the Process Shutdown System (PSD) to the Emergency that process instrumentation may not adequately report or Shutdown System (ESD).” HSE’s guide to the Control of Major Accident Hazards Myriad regulations require F&G safety systems. such as NORSOK to the designated safety related. from regional. “EEUA 191: regulatory bodies. While standards clearly dictate that the two systems — F&G safety. in part. no interaction shall F&G detection systems may be used to confirm the occur from the process control system to any safety system. minor process releases). They do not report or control conditions outside the assumed process integrity limits. usually controlled by a PCS. notification and/or suppression-activation devices. other to SIL 1 or 2. with the designated reliability.White Paper Page 2 the intended safety function of another. P. process control — remain independent. which pertain to environments with explosive atmospheres.

and ensure they meet functional safety requirements. NFPA 72 harsh environments that are typical of an industrial defines a gas detector as “a device that detects the site. Product certifiers must be accredited detectors measure the gas concentration at to assess and audit products.det-tronics. 800-765-3473 . These detectors of defense in preventing fire. UL and presence of a toxic or combustible gas. and are perfect for perimeter monitoring for presence of a specified gas concentration. monitor for potential flammable or toxic gas Below is an overview of the detector technologies often leak conditions. performance of the F&G safety system. Third-party product There are multiple detector types used for sensing gases: certification is critical as it validates the expected •F  ixed point detectors employ electrochemical. toxic or both. Product-certifying catalytic. FIRE AND GAS SAFETY SYSTEM XP Smoke detector Flame Acoustic gas detector Toxic gas detector Input/Output detector module Combustible Manual gas detector call Fire & Gas safety Beacon Input/Output system controller module Line-of-sight IR gas detector Fire water Automatic pumps deluge valves An effective F&G safety system may include multiple types of detection devices plus a fire & gas safety Plant Process Emergency system controller with inputs and outputs for Control System Shutdown notification and suppression-activation devices to (PCS) contain or mitigate an event that may be threatening (ESD) to personnel or process operations. explosions and process are often deployed in and around open areas and downtime in hazardous industrial settings.White Paper Page 3 National Electrical Code® (NEC®). These TÜV Rheinland. and augmenting point detectors for detected may be combustible. services and systems to the point where the detector is located. or infrared technologies to detect the organizations include Factory Mutual (FM). optimal coverage in large open areas.” The gasses gas clouds. exida. used in hazardous industrial applications. • L ine-of-sight gas detectors continuously monitor Gas detection technologies combustible gas levels between two points at Gas leak detection is usually considered the first line ranges as far as 120 meters apart.

hazardous locations often employ optical flame These are suitable for harsh outdoor applications. ultraviolet/infrared (UVIR) environmental and application factors. coverage. This technology is ideal Instead of waiting to detect heat or smoke from a for areas where there is risk for pressurized gas leaks. infrared (IR). As described in NFPA 800-765-3473 . www. these detectors are expected to be highly resistant to false alarms that can be costly in terms The goal of gas leak detection devices is to detect of operation shutdowns and plant and equipment damage hazardous vapors before they accumulate to an explosive caused by fire-suppression materials. To be effective. Therefore.White Paper Page 4 •A  coustic detectors use ultrasonic sensors to detect Flame detection technologies leaks based on noise patterns. fire. beam and video smoke. times are critical. Smoke detection technologies making and communication with the process control/ F&G safety systems may also employ smoke detection process shutdown system to take actions. The information these devices send to the F&G safety system controller can be used in decision. such as closing to perform life safety functions for occupied spaces. these radiant energy-sensing detectors are line-of-sight devices Each of these types of toxic and combustible gas detection that can employ several sensing technologies: approaches has benefits and limitations depending on ultraviolet (UV). to reduce ignition potential. and wind. an and multi-spectrum infrared (MIR). or lethal level. including photoelectric. and be sensed from a distance in a defined area of are unaffected by fog. optimal protection solution may involve using more than one type of technology and placing selected detector In addition to providing rapid fire detection when response types in locations that maximize their effectiveness. detectors “tuned” to specific fire emissions that can people-free operations and extreme temperatures. smoke A properly designed and certified F&G safety system provides information to the PCS to enable operations to consider both process and environmental conditions. valves to prevent gas from reaching the endangered area These devices detect particles produced by combustion or curtailing electric power in the area of the leaking gas using a variety of technologies. rain.

e. As described earlier. It should facilitate easy programming where. but should also be certified SIL 2 capable with the not to cause false alarms.” Smoke detectors in personnel areas can be vapors. the process system. and information. Adding a timestamp from the controller may also be valuable • Provide historical information. it should also have the ability to troubleshoot detection devices in different process areas to the PCS. and when events are occurring.det-tronics. This configuration is more The brain of the F&G safety system is a certified safety reliable as the controller is in constant communication controller. As NFPA 72 states. this design provides limited diagnostics. Although still detectors. or fumes. whether installed in defined areas or inside ductwork. moisture. provide alarm fault-tolerant loop topology. an effective F&G safety system This controller does more than handle inputs and should include the capability to export logic for the outputs. specific details of the event are not available to the controller because of the simple. Integrating complex alarm control and hazard mitigation is critical to life and plant preservation. point-to-point) design. on the other collected by the detectors. extinguishing acceptable. any local annunciation of the smoke detector • Annunciate events to personnel would be represented in the F&G safety system so that • Provide information on system readiness/health personnel away from the incident are alerted. fires. etc. substantially increasing the notification. during incident reconstruction. and flame and gas detection and releasing will be able to: electrical or mechanical influences. depending • Minimize responses to false events on the capabilities of the safety system controller. including calibration. to minimize nuisance • Detect specialized hazardous events (gases or alarms. integrated but independent from the PCS. alarm and fault logs • Communicate with third-party systems such Smoke detectors installed in hazardous locations need to as the PCS and Emergency Shutdown System be explosion-proof and — like all detectors used in high- risk locations — should have the necessary performance How: Information sharing between the and hazardous-location approvals to assure safe and F&G safety system and the PCS effective operation.. and communicate the event to the PCS. notification. In the past.) connected to the overall F&G safety system. However. alarm signaling. fault information. And the ideal F&G safety system of airflow from sources likely to present fire risks. gas and smoke a conventional (i. the responsibility of the F&G safety system is to continually monitor and analyze data An F&G safety system in an addressable loop. approved by FM or UL to be compliant to with each device on the loop for alarm and diagnostic NFPA 72 for flame and gas detection and releasing.White Paper Page 5 detectors should be located and spaced in anticipation other field devices. if/how to contain or mitigate the hazard. binary Unlike the PCS which only reports on conditions within nature of the communication path. • Provide automatic and/or manual mitigation of When smoke alarms are connected to the safety detected hazardous events controller. “The location of smoke detectors shall be based on an evaluation of potential ambient An F&G safety controller that is NFPA 72 compliant for sources of smoke. agent release and/or deluge operations designed to warn is inherently not fault-tolerant. make decisions to determine hand. The F&G safety controller — the brain of the system F&G safety system controllers were limited to being A complete F&G safety system is an integrated set of hardwired together using analog or contact closures in inputs and outputs consisting of flame. proper documentation that validates its performance capabilities and fault diagnostics. and is less flexible to and contain or mitigate an event that may be threatening 800-765-3473 . has the F&G devices configured on a bi-directional. While this configuration provides alarm and to personnel or process operations. dust. diagnostics. amount of diagnostic information that can be shared with the F&G safety controller. and provide real-time F&G safety system status and This enables the process owner to know exactly what. and configuration of flame and gas detectors and www.

org integrated with the PCS to allow communication about safety system to integrate with a PCS. tests and commissions a complete line of SIL 2 capable. globally certified flame.osha. www.exida. www. operations.” mitigating a detected hazard. MN 55438 USA Toll-free: 800. Andrews It is important to 10. William P. Petroleum Safety Regulatory Authority.6491 Minneapolis. All rights reserved. www. and Conclusion 3. National Fire Protection Association. H  andbook of Fire & Explosion Protection Engineering Principals an event that may be threatening to personnel or process for Oil.. a failure on the PCS will not affect the 1.White Paper Page 6 since the F&G safety system and the PCS remain Resources: independent. www. www.E. independently of the PCS.eemua. .elsevier. Chapter 17 — Fire & Gas Detection and Alarm Systems. 7. 2014. Nolan. and have 9. Occupational Health & Safety Association (OSHA) operation of the F&G safety system. Fax: have the ability to provide real-time safety system status 8. “Application of IEC 61508 and IEC 61511 in the Norwegian Petroleum Industry. Health and Safety Executive. www. The company designs. Dennis Effective F&G safety systems should be properly certified. P. Engineering Equipment & Materials Users Association.3473 www.ul. be scalable and © 2018 Detector Electronics Corporation. About Det-Tronics Det-Tronics is the global leader in fire and gas safety systems. providing premium flame and gas detection and hazard-mitigation systems for high-risk processes and industrial operations. Chemical & Related Facilities. www.8750 det-tronics@det-tronics.pdf F&G safety systems supplement PCSs by providing critical functions such as warning and containing or 4. gas and smoke safety products.. the ability to integrate with the 13.hse. including the X3301 Multispectrum Infrared Flame Detector and the Eagle Quantum Premier® (EQP) Fire and Gas Safety Controller. Lloyd’s of London.nfpa. www. builds. Factory Mutual Global. TÜV Rheinland.api. consider all of these features when selecting an F&G 11.det-tronics. Underwriters Laboratories. exida.tuv. www.lloyds. American Petroleum Institute (API). the F&G safety system can be https://www.fmglobal. 74-1012 Corporate Office 6901 West 110th Street Phone: 952. Although required to operate 5.829.ptil.