BACKGROUND FSG Systems being a leader in the mining industry for implementing cutting edge security solutions was approached by a large mining company in Ghana to upgrade their existing fire detection systems and replace it with the latest technology in Fire Detection and Voice Evacuation Systems. WHY FIRE DETECTION FOR MINES? Fire Detection Systems like in most industries are designed and implemented to save People and Property. This is no different in the Mining Industry, on a mine one would think that there is a greater risk of fires occurring in the tunnels and shafts but statistics will show that there is a far greater likelihood that fires will occur in substations, workshops, diesel generator bays, plant rooms, mess halls, chemical stores and administration buildings etc. These are critical infrastructure areas that should they be destroyed by fire could lead to a temporary halt to production which generally means huge losses in revenue. When one considers the high power consumption of the sophisticated equipment being used in the mining environment combined with the harsh environmental elements the risk of fires increases exponentially. Mines are very dusty, sometimes hot and humid and potentially explosive.
For these very reasons it has become necessary to implement a suitable Fire Detection and Emergency Voice Evacuation System at the Gold Mine. Having gone through a detailed design and consultative process which included all stakeholders the following recommendations where made:
A new Fire Detection and Emergency Voice Evacuation System to be installed within key buildings and remote sites across the entire mine site.
All alarms and alerts generated must be relayed back to the Main Control Room (MCR).
The new Fire and Voice System must integrate with existing 3rd party services.
All alarms and alerts to be displayed on a graphical map in the MCR.
Emergency Voice Evacuation was required for mass notification.
THE CHALLENGE When selecting the appropriate solution for a Fire Detection and Emergency Voice Evacuation System for this mining environment, we carefully considered the following: 1. Quality of Products: One has to consider the location of the mine, physical form of the sensors and the type of devices. It is our professional experience that all products are customised. Mines require hazardous and explosion material and so it is natural that the equipment chosen is approved for this environment.
2. Harsh Environment: All mines produce large amounts of dirt and dust and even though some areas have filtration systems over time even these areas will become contaminated. The dust leads many installation companies to favour early warning Aspirating Smoke Detection Systems. Their effectiveness and longevity have been proven in mining applications with their lower maintenance cost and added advantage.
3. Networking Capabilities: Mining operations usually encompass large areas with one or several Control Rooms. Reaction time to fires is often lengthened because of the vast areas that need to be covered. For these reasons it is vitally important that the solution and equipment selected is interfaced and networkable. With the lack of infrastructure on mines it is always advantageous to have integrated security systems running on the same platform and in this case the Fire Detection and Emergency Voice Evacuation System. The use of the correct product cannot be emphasized enough for the protection of life and sustained productivity. SOLUTION IN DETAIL At FSG Systems it has always been our philosophy to find, develop and bring to the market only the best solutions in our field of expertise. When considering the mines requirements and operating environment it was clear that the best technological solution for them was to install an Edwards EST3 Fire Detection and Emergency Voice Evacuation System with Securiton’s Linear Heat Detection for Mission Critical Areas.
EST3: Life Safety Control Platform
EST3 is a modular control platform uniquely designed to meet the needs of applications ranging from small standalone fire alarm systems to multi-panel networks with unified fire alarm, security and voice evacuation functions. Virtually all EST3 operating features are software-controlled via their Fireworks™ Software, giving EST3 great flexibility and ensuring operational changes and upgrades are possible, years after the initial installation. The remarkable flexibility and scalability means you pay for only what you want. Securiton: Detecting fires under extreme conditions Fires occur more often in dangerous locations, with conventional fire detectors quickly reaching their limitations. The intelligent line type detector from Securiton works perfectly, even under the most difficult conditions. It copes well with both extreme temperatures and constantly high atmospheric humidity, whilst precise measurements are also possible when corrosive gases and contaminated air are present, especially in the mining environment. The client required that we secure their Diesel Generator Bays and we had no hesitation to install Securiton’s ADW’s 535-1 Linear Heat Detection as well as UTC’s FF766 – Triple IR Flame Detectors with Flame Proof Housings.
Their Diesel Generators are mission critical in this high value business operation where they stand to lose significant revenue. The surface of their generators can reach very high temperatures and when their internal fluids (diesel and oil etc.) leak they can cause fires that is very difficult to extinguish. Because smoke is generally present in these areas conventional smoke detectors are not necessarily an indication of a fire. The best detection technique is to look for heat or flame and this is where flame detectors quickly identify the presence of a flame. Generator fires pose a safety risk to the occupants in a building but in the case of this mining environment it is more likely to disable the backup power required for critical services to operate resulting in a halt to production and loss of revenue.
Graphical User Interface The Fireworks™ Software provides a simple user interface, taking large amounts of information and presenting it in an easy-to-understand format. It does this by dividing the major system functions into easy-to-manage quadrants making the system intuitive to use because information is presented in a logical way to the operator. The Fireworks™ software is loaded onto a computer within the Main Control Room (MCR). The software allows the operator to control and monitor the Site Wide Fire Detection and Voice Evacuation System. Various reports can be retrieved from Fireworks to assist with system diagnostics and maintenance.
Maintenance Made Easy EST3 has Advanced Diagnostics and Maintenance Reporting Capabilities. Various reports can be extracted from the Fireworks Software to assist with diagnostics as well as scheduled maintenance which improves system reliability. Detector status and percentage of the dirt ingress level of each Edwards detector can be drawn from Fireworks™. The Signature Series detectors send a message when they need cleaning. This allows for preemptive maintenance and greatly reduces the amount of time required to maintain the system. Detailed trouble codes quickly identify problems. System Design and Implementation
Our system design was approved in December 2012 and installation began on the 3rd March 2013. The design specified 19 EST3 fire panels installed at key locations within the mine. Each of these fire panels interfacing with their various line devices (smoke and heat detectors, red break-glass units, line relays, interface units, IR flame detectors, UV flame detectors and aspirating smoke detectors etc.). Each fire panel was connected to the mines fibre optic network to relay information to the MCR. The fire panel in the MCR is considered the Master Panel as it displays all the alarms and alerts emanating from the fire panels out in the field. We reticulated PH120 fire resistant cables between line devices. All cables w installed in 25 mm galvanised steel conduit. The client provided all the labour for civil works (trenching) for the fibre optic cabling between the fire alarm panels. Edwards Line Devices and Interfaces
CONCLUSION The implementation of a multi-million Rand Site Wide Fire Detection and Voice Evacuation System was an overwhelming success. TESTIMONIAL
"We are completely satisfied with our EST3 Fire Detection and Voice Evacuation Solution. The system has delivered on its promise that it was designed to operate in the harshest of environments. The Fireworks Graphical User Interface and software could not be easier to use. One push of a button and we can do and Automatic Emergency Voice Announcement to evacuate the whole mine and/or selected buildings." - Process Maintenance Department, General Foreman.