What protects your fire protection?

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Matt De Frece, divisional director at Power Control discusses the role of the UPS system in ensuring your fire protection system is failsafe. 

Fire and methods of fire protection have been a hot topic uttered by many FM’s, data centres, business owners and landlords following the tragic Grenfell tower incident. Fire suppression systems in particular have been a key focus when discussing businesses fire protection strategies as being one of the most vital forms of fire safety. 

Not to be confused with sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems can use a number of different extinguishing agents, and although parts of their systems may look similar, the way in which they extinguish or control fires and their applications are very different.

Most commonly found in server rooms, data centres and areas containing electrical or flammable equipment, a fire suppression system is the only viable option for fire protection actuating early in the event of a fire to protect the data and IT equipment. Water sprinkler systems would cause irreparable damage to the property it is intended to protect. 

Moreover, when using fire suppression in a care home or residential environment, protecting the lives of those who live and work there is the highest priority. Primarily, fire suppression systems allow residents a delayed evacuation process, providing them with valuable extra minutes to exit the building before the blaze takes hold. As it is likely residents in a care home have limited or no mobility, this extra time is crucial. The likelihood of a power outage during a fire is high, making a form of backup power a vital piece of equipment for the care home.

Despite their differences, both fire sprinkler and fire suppression systems require mains power to interface with the fire alarm system. A power supply is vital for providing electricity to enable the releasing panel to interact with the fire alarm detection system, open pre-action valves, sound pre-discharge alarms, shut down ventilation and numerous other actions. Without a reliable power supply, the suppression system would not function if a fire broke out.

As stated within the BS EN 50171, central power supply systems are intended to energise electrical circuits of automatic fire extinguishing installations, such as fire suppression systems, in the event of a mains power supply failure. A UPS system is commonly used as a method of backup power, where this system is used to feed essential safety systems, it must comply with EN 50091-1 and its relevant parts. This is in addition to the requirements set out in EN 50171.

Specialising in power protection for over 80 years, Italian UPS manufacturer Borri Spa has recently introduced their range of ECS (Emergency Central System) uninterruptible power supply units. Encompassing their proven industry leading UPS technology with a slightly modified twist for supporting emergency and life safety systems, Borri’s ECS range of units meet both the Product Standard IEC/EN 62040 and the EN 50171 Standard. This provides versatility to use the UPS as a CPSS (Central Power Supply System) greatly reducing maintenance costs.

As the exclusive UK representative for Borri Spa, Power Control provides turnkey backup power solutions for emergency and life safety applications. Due to the high inrush currents required to start a pump, there are many pitfalls to be avoided in providing UPS solutions to support fire suppression systems. Many other UPS providers will either fail to take these start-up currents into consideration leading to an unreliable solution or an oversized UPS unit. 

Specialising in all aspects of power quality and reliability, Power Control can provide a VSD (variable speed drive) alongside the ECS UPS. This means the start-up current is limited to 1x the running load preventing the need to oversize the UPS. Combining this technology with Borri’s excellence in manufacturing, Power Control is able to offer the full package. 

Power Control exclusively supplies, installs, commissions and maintains an extensive range of Borri UPS units within the UK market. These include 3 phase systems from 10kVA to 6.4MVA.