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EKRAN-INFO: multifunctional explosion-proof annunciator

Informing people in case of natural and technogenic emergencies as well as in case of terrorist attacks of all kinds is one of the most important ways to minimize the severity of consequences, preservation of people’s health and lives. Unfortunately, as experience shows, in these situations people commonly start panicing and forget even the most basic instructions that they had been given during personnel instruction because most of the people have a very light-minded attutude towards preventive activities never thinking that they may as well happen to be in the center of an emergency, fire outbrake, etc. For example, multiple cases involving fire oubreaks, passenger vessel collisions proove that often people just cannot find the exit because they were careless enough to skip getting acquainted with the vessel’s structure or they just did not have time to do that. Most of the people have no idea where survival equipment is located and gow to use it.
Thus, timely emergency notification, providing information on the escape means and ways is a task of critical importance for fire alarm and evacuation control system (FAECC). Fire notification and evacuation control in case of fire is carried our by means of one of the following methods or their combination:

  • generation of acoustic and (or) light signal in all building units meant for constant or temporary presence of people;
  • text broadcasting informing on the need to evacuate, escape routes, routing direction and other actions aimed at keeping people safe;
  • broadcasting of specially developed texts aimed at prevention of panic and other actions complicating evacuation;
  • placing evacuation safety signes along the escape routes;
  • placing evacuation safety signes along the escape routes;
  • activation of evacuation lighting;
  • remote unlocking of evacuation exit doors (for example, those equipped with electromagnetic locks);
  • communication between the fire station / alarm room and the fire annunciation zones.

Fire notification should be designed with the view of evacuation plans realization. In the process of FAECC designing provisions should be made for possible integration with the civil defence notification system. Fire notification should be activated by a command pulse formed automatically by fire alarm or fire extinguishing unit. Remote or local notification activation is allowed if in accordance with the regulatory documents for a particular type of buildings equipping with automatic fire extinguishing units and automatic fire alarm system is not required.
Size of fire notification zones, special alerting queue, time of notification commencement in specific zones is defined in the view of the condition of safe evacuation of people in case of fire. Depending on the method of fire notification, division of the building into notification zones and other characteristics provision is made for five types of fire notification and evacuation control systems used in case of fire outbreak inside buildings.

  1. this type provides for:
    • acoustic notification (siren, tone signal, etc.).
  2. this type provides for:
    • acoustic notification (siren, tone signal, etc.).
    • light notification (EXIT signs).
  3. this type provides for:
    • voice notification (broadcasting of special texts);
    • light notification (EXIT signs).
  4. this type provides for:
    • voice notification (broadcasting of special texts);
    • light notification (EXIT signs);
    • zonal nofitication (division of the building into fire notification zones).
    • zonal notification with notification zone feedback received at fire station / alarm room.
  5. this type provides for:
    • voice notification (broadcasting of special texts);
    • light notification (EXIT signs);
    • zonal nofitication (division of the building into fire notification zones);
    • zonal notification with notification zone feedback received at fire station / alarm room;
    • provision for implementation of several variants of organization of evacuation from each fire notification zone;
    • coordinated control from one fire station / alarm room of all buiding systems related to safety assurance in case of fire.

Use of a higher type of FAECC is allowed for buildings subject to compliance with the conditions of people safe evacuation assurance. Necessary FAECC type is defined in accordance with the performance standard value. In case of premises and buildings where there are (working, living, carrying out leisure activities) disabled people, the FAECC must pay due consideration to these aspects. Depending on the composition and the principles of operation fire notification can be either centralized or local.

Local fire notification is a system of modules that receives alarm signals from external sensors. Then, these signals in the form of prerecorded text messages are broadcasted in a specific number of premises.
These fire notification systems mainly consist of a voice processing unit, a sound amplifier and a loudspeaker that do not have centralized control. However, local fire notification has its disadvantages. One of them is that it is impossible to control evacuation in real time mode from, for example, a microphone console, which may be necessary in unconventional or rapidly changing situations.

Centralized fire notification has a central control unit making possible its operation in automatic or semi-automatic mode. Fire notification can have several signal sources and division of the building into separate zones is carried out in accordance with its architectural and functional type. Besides, voice fire notification may be accompanied by evacuation routing light signs. Notification system can as well be combined with access control system, which will start generating signals for opening additional escape exits when alarm pulses start coming in from the sensors. Voice fire notification contributes to a more successful and efficient evacuation of people and valuable assets, especially in public buildings where there are visitors as well as the personnel.

Prerecorded emergency messages should be used for fire notification. These messages should be broadcasted at a higher volume than background music. In addition, voice message notifying of a fire should be neutral and it shall contain information about all possible evacuation routes. Thus, nofitication task is focused on acoustic and acoustic and voice notification. Light means of notification present a low profile and consist od static sign plates that bear minimum information and sometime don not even attract attention. It is evident that acoustic and especially acoustic and voice notification is a faster means to reach people’s mind, thus they don’t even have to look somewhere for it. People perceive most of information visually and in case of emergency a light notification system can not only serve to double the voice messages but may also happen to be the only possible way to deliver information. It may happen in case of high noise pollution and echo effect: almost any of us has witnessed it in airport and train station halls.
Besides nowadays there can be situations when information must not be provided by means of acoustic notification, for example, in case of seizure of building or marine vessels by terrorists. In such a situation it may be necessary to coordinate actions of special services and hostages without any sound. Availability of a backup system of light notification can be useful as well in case of mining accidente, which unfortunately occur quite often.

A novel solution of Eridan, CJSC is designed for solving the task of light notification: explosion-proof fire annunciator EKRAN-INFO. Now the product is a matrix display panel made of extra bright LEDs manufactured by one of the world’s leading companies Kingbright with the size of 56х16 elements. The display table may be red, green, yellow and red and green (different combinations of red and green may result in other colors as well). The matrix screen provides quite a wide range of possibilities of text, numbers and signes displaying. Information can be displayed in static, flashing modes and in the form of scrolling text (any direction).

The annunciator remains functional at the temperature ranging from minus 55°С to plus 75°С and relative humidity of up to 95% at 40°С. The annunciator is explosion-proof with explosion-proofness type explosion-proof enclosure “d”, “mb” compound sealing, internal spark-safe circuit [ib]. Explosion-proof marking 1Exdmb[ib]IICT4 Х as per GOST R 52350.0. The annunciator meets the requirements of fire safety as per GOST R 53325.

In terms of jamming resistance and electromagnetic emission the annunciator corresponds to the severity degree 2 as per GOST R IEC 60065. Protection degree of the explosion-proof annunciator is IP65 as per GOST 14254. It is worth mentioning that this product has great prospectives in terms of widening of its possibilities, which is described below. At present, the explosion-proof annunciator EKRAN-INFO can broadcast 4 prerecorded texts at the operator’s discretion. However, the potential for use of this device as part of automated (with operator) as well as completely stand-alone system is evident. Furnishing this product with a controller that receives information from temperature, smoke, moisture and other sensors provides unlimited possibilities for creation of fire alarm and other notification systems. In this case, the annunciator turns from one of actuation devices of the fire extinguising system into a combination of logic and actuation device.

As mentioned previously, new possibilities arise at the junction of emergencies of technogenic, criminal nature and naturally-occurring accidents. Explosion-proof annunciator EKRAN-INFO can provide recommendation for survival in case of fire (breathing near the floor level to prevent suffocating, wrapping oneself with moist rags; it can remind where the fire extinguishers and medical means are and where and when one has to go), flood, earthquake. In case of activation of fire extinguishing systems it is important to inform people in time that they have to leave the premise, provide information on the status of other premises, rate of decrease of concentration of smoke, temperature and gases used for fire extinguishing.

In the long term, the system may switch to wireless way of communicating with the sensors and the operator console. Further development may allow introducing information from the operator console in real time mode. If the product is used in off line mode, virtually any amount of information (dozens of pre-readied texts) can be recorded into it. Based on the system operation algorithm, this information will be displayed in a corresponding situation. Of course purchasing such a device instead of sign plates with a fixed text may seem needless. However, you have to take into consideration the fact that it can be successfully operated before an accident happens possibly even preventing it.
For example, the system can be placed in a premise where works involving poisonous, highly flammable substances are carried out, and when it receives a signal indicating growth of hazardous substances concentration from the sensors, it will issue a warning. In the background mode, the system can be used to remind about some rules of hazardous substances handling, etc. Most of fire outbreaks aboard ships happen due to carelessness or negligence of the ship’s administration. If the existing fire prevention rules are properly observed and complied with, it is nearly always possible to prevent it. Unfortunatetly, this conclusion is usually made after the investigation. Maybe paper warning plates are not that effective. Moving texts periodically accompanied by acoustic signals combined with flashing can attract much more attention. In general, it is natural for all living beings to pay attention to something moving. It is part of self-preservative instinct.

Several colors used in one display provide additional flexibility. You can broadcast preventive and other information in green, passing onto yellow and red in case of increase of danger. As experience shows, people need to be constantly reminded of the need to close the windows and doors in order to decrease chances of beginning and proliferation of fire, to avoid keeping certain materials in close contact, to periodically check temperature, moisure level, gas content level in storage and hold spaces. Explosion-proof annunciator EKRAN-INFO can be efficienty used for emergency drills. When implementing the exercise plan, you can display specific data on the panel when needed and observe reaction of those undergoing the training. Valuable information obtained during these drills should be used for subsequent correction of evacuation plans. Thus, this product in its current state and especially in the long term extended modifications is a flexible tool, useful for design enterprises in the field of fire and other safety assurance which can be used as a stand-alone device as well as part of multiple variants of combinations with other means of notification and rectification of the consequences of emergencies. Combination of different methods makes a system more reliable when one part of it may be damaged or inefficient and the other one replaces it or backs it up.

Can we do without this device? Yes, of course, you can. But if such a panel that constantly displayes important safety rules (and it is impossible to do the same by means of acoustic and voice messages) prevents a hazardous situation, it will repay manyfold its cost.

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