Video fire detection good solution for large spaces

A video detection system can also double as a security system because it’s always recording video
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—Statistics show that one of the leading causes of fire in large storage facilities and warehouses is arson. And one of the best ways to prevent such fires—which can cost the economy billions of dollars in property damage and business disruption—is through video-image fire and smoke detection technology.

That was one of the key messages in a recent webcast sponsored by Fike, an industrial and commercial life safety solutions provider, and hosted by Security Systems News. The webcast, titled “Fire: Advances in Video Image Detection,” is available free on demand on SSN’s website until Dec. 20.

Moderated by SSN editor Martha Entwistle, among the topics the webcast addressed was how video image detection can “overcome the challenges of protecting large-volume structures in unique environments.”

Mac Mottley, general manager of Maryland-based Fike Video Image Detection, a business division of Fike, led the webcast discussion. He explained that video fire and smoke detection is “software algorithms that analyze video images looking for patterns or behavior of flame and smoke.”

In buildings like warehouses, conventional fire detection is not really suitable due to the high ceilings, Mottley said. He said that conventional detection devices are “not only expensive to install and maintain,” because a lot of them are needed in large spaces, but they “may not actually work.” Mottley said a lot of fires start on the ground level, so conventional detectors placed higher up won’t detect them until the fires are well under way.

But video fire and smoke detection “can play a significant role in these types of settings,” Mottley said.

The technology can detect smoke and flame anywhere in a space, not just up near the ceiling, and send an alarm when a fire is still at an early stage, he said.

Mottley added that firefighters are increasingly taking a defensive approach toward fires where there aren’t lives to be saved, not risking their lives by entering a burning structure. “No one is doing final extinguishment,” he said.

However, with video fire and smoke detection, he said, where “we have early detection and the situational awareness where firefighters can see what’s going on [through the video cameras], maybe we can have fire extinguishment.”

In addition, Mottley said, the video component of the technology is capable of motion detection and has a dual purpose of acting as a high-end security system, so it could be vital in an arson situation.

“We record video all the time, so we can tell what started the fire. Was it an arsonist?” Mottley said. “With our technology, you can definitely tell what started the fire because you have the video that leads up to it.”

To learn more about video fire and smoke detection, including the basic concepts of video analytics as it applies to such detection, how software algorithms work with detection technology, the types of systems and architectures available, and how fire protection codes and listings have addressed video image detection, go to the webcasts section on SSN’s website.

Mottley formerly was CEO of axonX, a video smoke detection company acquired in 2009 by Fike and which now does business as Fike Video Image Detection.