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Intrinsically safe fire detection protects major defence manufacturer

Apollo intrinsically safe (IS) fire detection technology has been specified to protect a new manufacturing facility at Wallop Defence Systems Ltd site near Stockbridge, Hampshire. A division of Esterline Technologies, Wallop Defence Systems is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of defence pyrotechnics for air, sea and land applications.

Intrinsically safe fire detection protects major defence manufacturer

The contract to design, supply, install and commission the IS fire system was won by Canon Fire Protection based in nearby Midhurst. John Barfoot, the company’s Fire Systems Manager, explains the rigorous selection process and how Apollo helped to meet the client’s requirements.

"Wallop Defence Systems was a key contract for our company, and is the largest project we have secured to date. Apollo was very supportive of our bid. We must make special mention of our Apollo sales manager, Sam Ward, who was truly exceptional. He worked closely with us throughout this project to ensure its success and has become an integral part of our team."

Apollo helped in two key areas. Firstly, its fire detection products meet all key international standards, including the European ATEX Directive requirements for equipment used in areas with potentially explosive atmospheres. Secondly, Canon Fire Protection was able to use Apollo’s extensive in-house testing facilities to demonstrate its fire detection technology to the client.
Says John: "With Apollo’s support, we were not only able to meet the specification for ATEX approved intrinsically safe fire detection, but could also demonstrate to Wallop Defence Systems how the Apollo IS devices would work in practice."

Among the products manufactured at Wallop Defence Systems’ site in Hampshire are infrared flares to counter air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles, decoy systems for naval protection and missile tracking flares. The assembly of these essential defensive products involves the use of potentially flammable and explosive materials, so fire protection is a key priority to ensure personnel safety and protect valuable assets.

Electrical equipment for use in these areas needs to be designed so that it cannot ignite an explosive mixture. There are a number of methods available to achieve this, but one of the most common is intrinsic safety. Intrinsically safe equipment operates at such low power and with such small amounts of stored energy that it is incapable of causing ignition, not only in normal operation but also in fault conditions. Apollo offers intrinsically safe versions of its XP95 intelligent range and its Orbis conventional range of fire detectors.

Canon Fire Protection supplied and installed a fire system based around Apollo XP95 IS fire detectors and a four-loop Kentec Syncro control panel. The system features a modem link so that fire system performance can be monitored remotely 24/7. The entire system is wired using mineral-insulated (MICC) cabling. This is an additional precaution against any part of the system causing an electrical spark.

Around 100 Apollo IS devices provide comprehensive fire detection in the manufacturing areas. Where flame detection was required, devices were used in conjunction with IS-rated enclosures to meet the requirements for intrinsic safety. Due to high ambient noise levels, visual indicators are used in the administrative areas, while Vimpex IS sounders are fitted in the transfer corridors between manufacturing processes.

In the event of an alarm being raised, the entire premises are evacuated immediately. The site has its own firefighters, who are trained to tackle minor incidents. In addition, a repeater panel in the main gatehouse alerts security staff to any incident, so that they can summon the appropriate external fire services as required.

In conclusion, John Barfoot says: "This was an unusual project which, due to the nature of the business, placed very stringent demands on the fire protection system. We were confident that Apollo was the right choice for this application, but we needed to prove this to the customer. With Apollo’s help, we were able to go that extra mile and give the customer reassurance that the proposed fire detection solution would work reliably, which was invaluable."

Wallop Defence System’s new manufacturing premises are due to be completed early in 2010.

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