Fire suppression systems are increasingly taking advantage of the technological advances that allow for remote data collection and monitoring of the system. Any building or installation that has a fire suppression system can realize significant benefits from the ability to continuously monitor the health of the system. This capability is particularly crucial for sites that are unmanned or in remote or difficult-to-reach locations.
Human warehouse workers are increasingly being replaced by automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS). These systems use robots to pick inventory from high-density storage systems. Power substations, offshore liquid natural gas and oil rigs, telecom shelters, and stationary energy storage systems (ESS), which store energy from renewable sources like wind or solar in lithium-ion batteries, are all examples of sites that need fire suppression systems that can be remotely monitored in real time. A fire at any of these sites could result in a partial or total loss of property and endanger the lives of any on-site personnel. Case in point: in 2019, a warehouse using ASRS in Andover, England, suffered a fire that required the evacuation of neighboring properties and resulted in the total loss of the facility.
Properly maintaining all aspects of the fire suppression system is necessary to ensure that the system is capable of extinguishing a fire. In systems that rely on gaseous extinguishing agents, the cylinders storing these agents must contain the correct amount of agent. If there is too little agent, the system may not be able to extinguish a fire.
Fire suppression systems are typically inspected only twice per year. Faults might only be detected during these biannual inspections, jeopardizing the efficacy of the system. More than that, a fault that could eventually result in complete system failure, such as a leaking valve that slowly discharges the system, may not be detected between biannual inspections. This means that repairs may only be made because a fault was discovered during inspection or after a system failure. But with the appropriate sensors integrated into key components, even minor faults can be detected as they occur and corrected before the system is rendered inoperable.