Logistics is the backbone of many companies. An interception, caused by fire for instance, disrupts all downstream processes. Not only the flames of the fire but smoke, soot particles and extinguishing agents will damage the goods in stock and render them unsuitable for sale. As a consequence, would it not make more sense to prevent fires from occurring in the first place, instead of merely reacting to fires that have broken out?
A study by the German Insurance Association showed that roughly one third of severe fire damages in industry and commerce take place in warehouses. The most common causes are sparks from overloaded electronic components such as drive motors and electrical storage and retrieval machinery, as well as technical defects. In addition to the obvious risk of ignition, further factors, such as the structural characteristics and the stored goods, also play an important role when assessing the fire risk within warehouse facilities. Most of all packaging materials, such as cardboard and film are highly flammable. For instance, small load carriers (KLT) made of polypropylene release thermal energies comparable to those of diesel or petrol.
Once a fire has started and has not been detected in time, it has the potential to spread quickly and significant amounts of smoke can develop which will contaminate stored goods and make them unsellable. In addition, fires in high-bay warehouses spread particularly quickly, enhanced by the design of narrow and tall spaces between shelving. This creates a chimney effect. As a result, high-bay warehouses are a challenge with regard to fire protection, for both planners and fire services.
Fighting fires in high-bay warehouses Conventional fire protection systems are purely reactive, meaning a fire must have started and developed to a certain extent to trigger the firefighting system. The water used in sprinkler systems will not only fight the fire, but also damage the stored goods. Factors, such as the tall and closely arranged shelving systems in high-bay warehouses are another issue for fire services as they impair firefighting. In a worst case scenario, the fire service is forced to merely control the fire and let the warehouse burn to the ground.
Fire protection in storages of hazardous materials is particularly crucial due to the increased flammability. In the event of a fire, such goods additionally demonstrate dynamic combustion characteristics and often release substances which react severely and may even be toxic. In many cases, firefighting is restricted due to potential risks from intoxication or explosion.
Active fire fighting for more safety Nowadays, many companies prefer active fire prevention instead of relying on conventional fire extinguishing systems to protect their goods. WAGNER Group GmbH is market leader in the field of fire prevention with its OxyReduct® system.
Through a controlled supply of nitrogen the oxygen concentration within the warehouse is reduced to a predefined level thus preventing a fire from starting. However, the warehousing facilities remain accessible for authorised personnel.
The nitrogen required to reduce the oxygen level in the protected area is taken directly from the ambient air on-site using for example the latest Vacuum Pressure Swing Adsorption (VPSA) technology. The generators can save up to 80 percent of the energy compared with conventional membrane technology. Fire prevention with OxyReduct through VPSA technology provides a triple benefit: the high-bay warehouse is protected from the effects of a fire; the company simultaneously saves operating costs; and also makes a valuable contribution to reducing environmental damages.
OxyReduct® throughout Europe Over 700 major organisations throughout Europe, including the British Library, Jaguar Land Rover and British Airways, have already installed OxyReduct® systems in a wide range of applications including IT data centres, communication suites, archives, museums, cold/freezer storage and warehousing. OxyReduct® has proved itself cost-effective, compared to traditional protection systems for high-value storage and mission critical applications.
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