Why compartment testing is overlooked and undervalued?

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Would you enter a building if you were told as you stepped in that in the event of a fire there was a chance that the extinguishing system wouldn’t put it out because the fire couldn’t be contained?

NO! People expect, and rightfully so, that in the event of a fire the extinguishing systems would be in full working order to do just that – extinguish.

Hot Numbers:

  • Every 7 seconds, a fire breaks out, worldwide
  • CO2 is stored at 49 Bar pressure, but Nitrogen-based systems up to 300 Bar – increasing risk of leakage or accidental discharge
  • Annual servicing of gaseous systems is not constant monitoring
  • Poorly maintained sprinkler systems leak; gaseous systems discharge
  • 700 fatalities caused by fire in the UK
  • £7bn is the cost of fire to the UK economy according to Gov UK: every day £3.4m in costs by business disruption caused by fire – £1.3bn p.a.
  • 44% of all insurance claims are caused by fire

What is compartmentation?

So going back to the importance of compartmentation. Very briefly, it is related to fire stopping in walls and floors, to reduce the spread of fire. Compartmentation often relates to room integrity testing to ensure that a room is sufficiently sealed, to hold in the gaseous extinguishing agent once its been actuated. Liquefied Gaseous systems are typically made up of CO2, FM200™ or

Novec™ 1230, and non-liquefied systems are typically Inergen™ or Nitrogen. Leak sites in the room could mean that the comparted area may not withhold the fire or gaseous extinguishing agent, which has been specifically designed for the space (called design concentration). The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower as the protected area becomes larger than the size that the extinguishing system was designed for.

This is not a game of chance. The lives of people depend upon it. Enough is enough. The technology of ultrasonic hatch cover testing exists right now to support Door Fan Testing in providing a holistic and thorough integrity test of critical infrastructure. It is called Portascanner™ 520.

What is the opinion of leading researchers on compartmentation?

Leading researchers and scientists agree that the size of the compartments and their relation to fire resistance is key. As well as size, issues in the quality of compartmentation walls can come from maintenance, minor works and refurbishments. Contractors carrying out such tasks can occasionally destroy the compartmentation integrity of the wall, floor or ceilings if they were unaware that the area is a comparted space. This is emphasised in a review by the BRE

(Building Research Establishment) report from 2015, stating that: “The biggest issue with fire protection in concealed spaces is that of quality of construction. Poor workmanship, with inappropriate materials, resulting in the inadequate protection of concealed spaces, is the main reasons for fire (and smoke) spread via these routes.” Therefore, following maintenance it is “good practice” to ensure the fire resistance of walls, floors and ceilings and to safeguard again if necessary. Emphasised by the BRE is the important of compartmentation, because if it is not upheld, lives are put at stake, “The fire protection of concealed spaces is of prime importance because any deficiencies in installation and materials are not readily apparent and may quickly be covered over. Any inadequacies in such fire protection cannot be observed by the building users and, unlike other engineering provisions within the building, will not be apparent by its impact on everyday life.

Keywords: Hatch cover testing, ultrasonic hatch cover tester, hatch cover tester, hatch cover maintenance, hatch cover sensor, ultrasonic leak detector, watertight integrity tester, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment

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