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Fire Detection System: A Device for document preservation in a Library Environment: Guidance for Selection to Installation of an Ideal System

J.V.M.Joseph*, M.Pandurangam* and M.Somasekharan*

This paper discusses about the implication and hazards of fire in Libraries / Archives and explains about the necessary preventive measures to be taken. It stresses about the importance of installation of an ideal Automatic Fire Detection and Alarming System in libraries and archives for early detection and prevention. Describes detail about the various components comprising of Fire Detection & Alarm System. It provides necessary guidelines to the selection and installation of an ideal Fire Alarm System. Also discusses about the pros and cons of Beam Detectors. Finally, Software Interface and Network Issues are explained.

1. INTRODUCTION Safety and Security of Archives and Libraries: The prime activity of Information Security is the Physical Protection of Documents. The Dictionary meaning of safety is the freedom from loss or risk and security means the thing that guards or guarantees. In the context of physical records is free from losses or risks. If a document crumbles due to any reason, it is a permanent loss to the repository / the nation and the world as well. Safety and Security measures are to be strictly adhered to safe guard the documentary heritage from the losses against natural calamities like flood, earthquake and fire. Hence the safety and security of archives and libraries are concerns in preservation of documentary wealth. Fire: Fire is responsible of complete annihilation of documentary wealth and therefore, is necessary to prevent it. The nature of material housed in libraries and archives is mostly inflammable and even a single spark may completely burn the house. Therefore, it is essential to take care of documentary wealth of unique nature from fire. In order to take preventive measures, the following strategies are to be followed Prevention Strategies: While planning strategies against fire, it should guarantee for no outbreak of fire in archival repository or where documentary wealth is housed. Even it breaks due to any reason the Libraries and Archives must be in full preparedness to control it immediately before any loss occurs to the wealth. The following preventive measures will save the documentary wealth. a. First and foremost activity of prevention is the complete prohibition of smoking practices in library and archive buildings. b. Secondly, a special wiring system, negating short circuiting should be adopted. c. Thirdly, all the possible points causing short circuit in the electrical wiring should be avoided. d. Fourthly, sufficient fire fighting aids should be stockpiled in the vicinity of respective buildings to meet any challenge of fire.

SIRD, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research,Kalpakkam, Tamilnadu 603102 Email:


By implementing these strategies, there is no guarantee to achieve full protection to the documents. But we can ensure the fullest precautionary measures to prevent. In order to meet this precaution of fire, Fire Detection is to be made. 2. DETECTION OF FIRE Timely detection of fire detection by using proper transducer to sense the different types of smoke and temperature facilitates in effective control of it. Fire Detection and Alarm System: Fire Detection and Alarm System is electronic equipment which detects fire and raises alarm as warning of fire. Fire, generates smoke, heat and light and all the three parameters have been used for the detection of fire. Different types of Detectors sense the smoke and heat using different techniques depending upon the location and probable nature of fire. Typically a cooking place will have a special type of heat detection mechanism rather than simple smoke detection. The significance of all the detection system is that they raise alarm just after the outbreak of fire. The physical guidance system to location of fire is provided by the indicator panel of the system which shows or displays the exact location of the place where fire has broken. Fire Alarm Systems are classified as Conventional and Addressable. A system may have many numbers of loops and a loop may have different types of sensors and devices. The advantages of Addressable Systems are: All sensors devices and loops are uniquely addressed by a number. This feature provides exact geographical location of fire or faulty device or sensor. The address of senor/device can have detailed information which can be displayed on the panel where as the conventional system can only indicates loop number /(s) and not the exact location of the physical identification number of devices or sensors. Analogue Addressable Fire Alarm System: The major components of fire alarm system are the panel, sensors and devices. The fire alarm panel is a microprocessor based system which controls all the loops and interface ports for various devices and systems. Each loop consists of local memory and interface modules to interact with devices and is controlled by a micro controller.

Fig-1: Front panel 3. FIRE ALARM DEVICES

Fig-2: Cabling layout

The fire alarm system can accommodate various devices and sensors. Manual Call Points, Isolators, Hooters and Response Indicators are treated as devices and other 74

sensing devices are named as sensors / detectors. The following are the various types of Smoke sensors / detectors. 1. Ionization Smoke Detector 2. Photoelectric Smoke Detector 3. Optical Smoke Detectors. And 4. Beam Detector Ionization Smoke Detectors: Detectors sense the smoke arising out of the bursting of fire is known as ionization smoke detectors. In the event of fire, some materials in Libraries and Archives may generate or release a large amount of solid particles, as constituent particles of smoke, in the atmosphere. These types of detectors are ideal for Libraries and Archives.

Fig-3: Ionization Smoke Detectors Heat Detectors: Heat Detector ideally suited to locations where high sensitivity is required for change in heat and where smoke detectors are found unsuitable for detection of fire. Generally, smoke detectors, do not work efficiently in the places where material stores and produces little smoke in the initial stage of out breaking of fire or where adverse environmental conditions are prevailing. Optical Smoke Detectors: An optical smoke detector includes a light source (infra-red LED) and a photodiode or other photoelectric sensor at right-angles to the light beam. In the absence of smoke, the light passes in front of the detector in a straight line and light sensor does not get any light. Fig-4: Optical Smoke Detectors When the smoke enters into optical chamber, that is the path of the light beam, some light is scattered by the smoke particles, and same is detected by the sensor. These 75

detectors are suitable for detecting fire in the place where materials stored generate smoke just before the out break of fire. Beam Detectors: A Beam Detector consists of a transmitter and receiver and operates in line of sight. The system has a separate alarm and trouble signals which distinguish between a percentage of signal blockage and a total beam block. Beam Detector is uniquely suitable for protecting open areas with high ceilings where conventional spot type smoke detectors are difficult to install and maintain. Typically, this type of Detectors is suitable for Auditorium, Garage or Warehouse. Other Devices: 1. Manual Call Point: Manual Call Point is a device meant for human beings to operate in the event of visual fire or smoke where the sensors failed or delayed to operate. MCP is also interfaced with the main fire alarm system. Typically these devices are installed near the exit door / corridor / staircase. Isolator: An Isolator Device will detect short-circuit and isolates the shortcircuited segment from a loop. When the faulty sensor(s) removed or replaced the isolator will return to normal operation. Response Indicator: Response Indicator is a Light Emitting Diode (LED), which indicates the status of the corresponding sensor. Normally these indicators are fitted outside the closed rooms, so that the person can ascertain the status in the event of alarm condition. This reduces the time consumption while searching for the doubtful location. Hooter or Sounder: Hooter or Sounder is a device powered by the loop supply and does not require any separate power to activate. If the volume is insufficient separate power unit can be attached. Generally the device is designed such that the current consumption is low with high volume and no additional power supply is required.




4. GENERAL GUIDELINES 1. Factors involved in Selection of an Ideal System: Assessment: Assessment has to be made with respect to the area to be covered, layout of the building, types of material housed. In this aspect, engagement of a professional in the field especially from the Industry is most advisable so that the exact quantity and type of detectors can be technically assessed. b. Fire Alarm Panel: Selection factors like number of Detectors and Devices should be taken into consideration. Each loop card should support addressable devices (Detector, Isolator, Hooter, Indicators). Normally, an ideal panel should be capable of having 99 Detectors and 99 Devices per loop. The panel should be able to accommodate enough number of loops to cover the building and the future expansion. Hence there shall be provision for sufficient number of loops. a.


The system having the following features are to be considered. Loop capacity can be expandable Minimum198 devices per loop (99 Sensors + 99 Devices like Isolator, Manual Call Point, Response Indicator etc.) iii) No. of Zones per Panel More No. of Zones is Good iv) Modular design v) Graphical display and control system vi) Multi-Protocol vii) Supports advanced detection viii) More Levels of sensitivity ix) Auto Learn Facility x) Network option xi) Programmable from the Panel Keypad or PC xii) LCD Display xiii) Degraded mode of operation xiv) Variety of mounting option xv) Flexible time programming xvi) Supports loop powered sounders and switching relays xvii) Ease of maintenance xviii) Easy expandable xix) Provision for network connectivity xx) Easy to install xxi) Easy to configure xxii) Easy operation c. Sensors: The following features are to be ensured. i) Direct Decade Addressing ii) Electronic Addressing iii) LEDs for 360 degree visual alarm indication iv) Easy cleaning access v) Very low activity chamber (Ionization sensors) vi) Single plug-in installation with electronics-free base vii) Local magnet test facility viii) Tamper resistant facility ix) Sleek Low-Profile design x) Common Base for Ionisation, Heat and Optical Sensors xi) Addressable -Analogue Communication xii) Stable Communication Technique with Noise immunity. xiii) Low Standby Current xiv) Rotary Decade 01 to 99 Address Switches xv) Remote LED Output as Standard xvi) Dual LED Design provides 360 degree viewing Angle xvii) Visible LEDs Blink Every Time the Detector is Addressed (Optional), and Illuminate Steady On Alarm xviii) Built-in Functional Test Switch xix) Optional Relay, Isolator, or Sounder Bases d. Associated (Optional) Devices: i) ii) Repeater Panel Fault Isolator Device 77 i) ii)

iii) II.

Response Indicator

Confirmation to one or more Indian and International Standards: The above Panel and Sensors shall have the approvals of any one of the International Standard Specifications along with Indian Standard Specification indicated below: ISI (BUREAU OF INDIAN STANDARDS), India LPCB (Loss Prevention Certification Board), UK EN54 British Standard UL (UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES, USA) ULC (UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES, CANADA) BS-5839 (British Standard) CE CE Mark for European Standards & Regulations Vds (Verband der Sachversicherer e.v) Germany CSFM California State Fire Marshall


Cables, Conduits & Accessories: The following specified technical specifications should be followed during Installation. 2 Core (1.5 Multistrand shielded copper cable having aluminum braid around is highly suitable 1 Inch MS Conduit pipes are to be used on the walls is to be ensured. For easy identification among other conduits it is better to have uniform colored pipes preferably Red throughout the building.


UPS: The main panel and the sub-systems should be powered through Uninterrupted Power Supply unit (UPS). The power rating and backup time should be ensured with at least one hour. Battery Power: In case of loss of mains power, the power supply unit shall automatically get change over to battery power which is rated suitably. Output Facilities: The control unit shall have necessary built-in Interface to Connect different types of printers. Spares: Purposes: The Spares in sufficient quantities are to be stored due to the following reasons: 1. Easy replacement 2. One or two nos. to extend in the loop / zone. 3. To meet the obsolescence of the component These spares include Sensors, Loop Card, Communication Card, etc.






Selection of Vendor: The following criteria are to be considered while selecting the proper vendor for assigning the contract. Reputation and Reliability of the Company Previous Installations done in various places Trade Mark / Make dealt with shall be reputable and worldwide. This can be assessed by enquiring with the persons using the system Standards and performance of the Company Quality of Service Easy maintenance and cost effective Timely Delivery and Installation of the System at the customers site Periodical Maintenance of the system should be assured by the supplier Training to the Person(s) for operating the System be given by the Supplier Assurance from the Supplier to supply of spares etc. for at least next 15 years. Last but not least, the Supplier should provide the Documentation of the System regarding Layout, Cables routings etc. installed at the site for Reference and Records.

Software Interface and Network: The Software should have the features to identify the location and healthiness of the sensors and other devices. Since the software and communication protocols are following the standards, the capabilities also permit to monitor other network of the fire alarm systems (supports different vendors of fire alarm system). The email option enables the user to get up-to-date information and healthiness of the system with time stamp. In case of fire, the voice alarm navigates the users with the pre-recorded audio information and the users need not visit the main control panel.

Fig-4: Screen shot of monitoring software 79

5. CONCLUSION Present day libraries are mostly Hybrid Libraries which contains both print and electronic documents, to safe-guard these valuable and multi type materials, it is highly essential to install an Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm System in any library or in archives which ultimately safe-guards the Nations heritage and wealth. It is advised not to use water sprinklers and use only fire fighting equipment which is fitted in a library environment. It is also suggested that one Repeater Panel should be installed near the Security Area of the main building to take immediate action by the security personnel in case of emergency. Finally, the training of staff members should be ensured with proper training with operational documents to enable them to meet the emergency needs. Following the above guidelines and suggestions along with a highly reliable Fire Safety System, the archives can be protected from fire which ultimately meets the total document preservation. REFERENCE
1. Fire detection and fire alarm systems (CEN/TC 72) 2. Fire detection and fire alarm systems - Part 21: Alarm transmission and fault warning routing equipment :EN 54-21:2006 3. Fire detection and fire alarm systems - Part 3: Fire alarm devices - Sounders :EN 543:2001 4. Fire detection and fire alarm systems - Components for fire alarm voice alarm systems Part 16: Voice alarm control and indicating equipment : prEN 54-16 5. Fire detection and fire alarm systems - Part 7: Smoke detectors - Point detectors using scattered light, transmitted light or ionization : EN 54-7:2000 6. Smoke alarm devices : EN 14604:2005 7. IS No. SP 7:2005 National Building Code of India 2005 8. Class 2 ignitability as per IS 125612 (Part 1). 9. Class 1 ignitability as per IS 15612 (Part 1).