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Fike’s Video Fire Detection Protects UK’s Heritage

BBMF-Hangar-300pxThe SigniFire Video Fire Detection (VFD) system from Fike Safety Technology (FST) has been deployed in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) hangar to protect some of the nation’s most valuable historic assets. Based at RAF Coningsby, the aircraft of the BBMF are regularly seen at events commemorating World War II, British State occasions and at air displays around the UK and Europe. Most notable amongst the WWII aircraft are the Spitfire, the Hurricane and one of only two flight-worthy Lancaster bombers in the world. It was therefore imperative that when the fire protection needs of the BBMF hangar were reviewed, a state-of-the-art solution was chosen to provide effective and reliable fire detection. The new system was designed and installed by T.I.S., an integrated solutions specialist and part of Fike’s nationwide Integrator Network.

The camera-based SigniFire VFD visually detects the presence of fire or smoke at its source. Multiple cameras were installed, covering both the floor of the hangar and the roof space. The technology offers many benefits including fast and reliable response, effective protection in demanding environments, excellent value for money and the bonus of providing CCTV images for security purposes, if required. The video can aid incident response and can be recorded for post-incident analysis.

Following a rigorous competitive tender, SigniFire was chosen for its advanced technology, resilient and redundant architecture and its field proven reliability. The testing phase at RAF Coningsby created an unusual problem, explains, Mark Wilson, Head of Contracts for T.I.S. “Due to the nature of the environment and the priceless value of the assets held in the hangar we were not allowed to light real test fires for the commissioning of the system, so we developed a unique artificial flame and smoke simulator. At the time of testing both the original fire detection system and the VFD were operational. These tests demonstrated SigniFire’s excellent fast response to the initial presence of both smoke and flame.”

Unlike conventional fire detection systems, SigniFire doesn’t use traditional forms of smoke, heat or flame detection. Instead, it works by automatically analysing video images at the point of detection in each video fire detector, looking for tell-tale characteristics that indicate the presence of smoke and/or flames. Distributing the video processing to within each fire detector camera delivers improved resilience and with the use of fire resistant cable allows the system to be BS 5839 certified. Video is recorded on a NVR and monitored remotely on a touchscreen SpyderPanel. SigniFire is also connected to a newly installed addressable fire alarm system in the building.

An aircraft hangar creates one of the most demanding environments for VFD, with day/night light changes, slow moving aircraft, bright sunlight and constantly opening hangar doors. The application of video exclusion zones and double-knock triggers on both flame and smoke detection ensures false alarms are minimised and that the BBMF hangar has reliable and effective protection around the clock. In addition LED white lighting was installed next to each camera to ensure minimum illumination at all times.