NYC accepts video image smoke detection

The city is updating its building code, so the detection method now can be used; it’s ideal for high-rise mechanical rooms
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SPARKS, Md.—Video image smoke detection is now accepted under the New York City Building Code, opening a large new market for such detection systems.

“This is a pretty big deal,” Rick Jeffress, sales manager, Americas, for Fike Video Image Detection, which is based here and is a business division of Fike, told Security Systems News. “We are starting to receive calls for systems in high-rise and other mechanical equipment rooms.”

The New York City Building Code currently references the 2002 version of NFPA 72, which doesn’t include video image smoke detection systems. But a local law amends the city code to reference the 2010 version of NFPA 72, which does recognize the new technology. And although the law technically doesn’t take effect until Oct. 1, the city has already sent out a bulletin accepting the use of video image smoke detection as a detection method.

The March 18 city bulletin notes that video image smoke detection systems generally are used “in open, large spaces where it is difficult to detect smoke with conventional methods.”

Jeffress said, “This approval is particularly helpful in high-rise mechanical rooms, and we are already receiving a lot of calls for new installations.”

In phone and email interviews with SSN, he explained, “Mechanical rooms often have high ceilings where [smoke] stratification can occur.” He said there also can be beam pockets, requiring many smoke detectors that are difficult to install and access. Also, he said, equipment in the rooms “can cause obstructions that make it hard to see flames.”

But video image detection, Jeffress said, “detects smoke as it is rising, so stratified smoke can be detected low in the room.” Also, he said, “ceiling construction does not affect the coverage area of video image smoke detectors.”

In addition, he said, “video image detection can also detect flame and catch a fire in early stages. There are also cost savings in the installation and maintenance of the system, as well as potential for remote video monitoring of the space. If there is a fire, the first responders can view video of the room prior to sending in their personnel.”

Jeffress added, “Maybe it’s full of smoke and they don’t want to open the door unless they have breathing air.” He said the live video provides “actionable intelligence.”

Other applications for video image smoke detection include manufacturing facilities and power plants, Jeffress said, basically, “anywhere where you have a need for fire detection in difficult applications.”