In 1984, India suffered one of the most tragic disasters of all time. The United Nations named it to be among the ‘world’s major industrial accidents of the 20th century’, alongside Chernobyl. Thousands of lives were lost when around 30 tons of methyl isocyanate gas leaked. Over the years, the Government estimates that around 15,000 deaths could be attributed to this tragedy over the years, and survivors still suffer from the effects of the toxicity till today. One would think that these numbers would have fallen after such a grave incident, right?
According to very recent estimates released by the ILO, 2.78 million workers die from accidents or diseases contracted at work. This means that we are still taking the safety and security of industrial establishments very lightly. A large part of these explosions and fires can be nipped in the bud if an establishment is well-prepared.
Due to the nature of the operations conducted in industrial establishments, having state-of-the-art fire safety systems is absolutely imperative because if history is any reminder, industrial disasters are never small scale. They wreak havoc claiming lives, damaging property and polluting the environment, sometimes these effects are even long term.
What can industries do to amp up their fire safety? Here are a few pointers.
A grid of gas detectors
Commercial buildings are susceptible to a lot of different threats from a lot of different sources, which is why your standard LPG gas detectors in kitchen areas are far from enough. You will need a network of gas detectors which are all focused on targeting different kinds of gases. You will need methane detectors in any industrial building since they would certainly be using fuel. Besides this, makes sure that cold storage facilities are dotted with refrigerant gas leak detectors, parking lots are ventilated and covered with carbon monoxide detectors, hydrogen gas detectors for battery rooms, and, ammonia detectors for storage rooms.
Heat detectors at every nook and corner
Tiny but powerful, these devices raise an alarm if temperatures go high because not all fires are caused by explosives or gas leaks. Some are caused by a small spark igniting in extremely high temperatures – which is a common occurrence in electrical rooms of industrial buildings.
Integrated fire suppressants
A part of your fire alarm panel, these fire suppressants are automated to extinguish a fire without human intervention. A fire suppression system may be triggered to release water, foaming agents, gases, or fire retardants, depending on the cause of the fire. This can make all the difference while waiting for the authorities to arrive.
Addressable fire alarm systems
This should be the norm since industrial buildings are usually large scale. Addressable fire alarm panels will help in pinpointing the exact location of the fire, so that time is not wasted trying to search an entire building or complex. When it comes to firefighting, time is of the essence, and it can actually make a huge difference to life and death.
Video surveillance with thermal cameras
Not just for security, these cameras are very handy in places like control rooms or electric rooms which should always be monitored. The thermal camera helps pick up an excess of heat, so whoever is monitoring the footage can raise an alarm. This is a great way to nip a tiny problem in the bud.
Door release systems where required
Let’s face it, it is difficult not to panic in a stressful situation, and you can be sure that people are not going to exit the building in a calm and orderly fashion, in case of an emergency. There will be absolute chaos, which is why door release systems that force the pressure sealed doors within a structure open are a great idea. This means that in case of an emergency, there is an easy evacuation.
Integration and education
You can have a state-of-the-art alarm panel, but it’s of no use if the people who work in the building every day do not know how to use it. Don’t limit training and fire safety drills to security, make it mandatory for anyone who uses the building. Conduct mock drills so that patrons know what to do in case of an emergency. It’s also important to ensure that your systems are up and running at all times. For this, a cloud-based IoT solution, like Firetweet can constantly monitor the health of your fire safety systems and provide corrective action when needed.
The safety of industrial establishments should be taken very seriously, simply because of the dire consequences that one simple malfunction can have. The best way to avert such a disaster is to always be cautious and prepared.