Early Fire Detection in Critical Environments

Video smoke detection offers new possibilities for integrators and end customers, states Pieter Claerhout, CEO of Araani

The surveillance and fire safety industries have traditionally been two separate worlds. But with the advent of video smoke detection (VSD), both communities seem to have found each other. VSD allows surveillance and fire safety operators to make better decisions based on the video footage they get presented through dedicated cameras.

For integrators, there is finally a way to maximise the use of the security camera network and to detect fires much earlier than any other conventional smoke detector.

Video analytics has been around for many years for perimeter intrusion monitoring and the detection of people. In traffic applications, it is a proven way to detect people and vehicles. It was not until recently that video analytics for the detection of smoke and fire has come into the spotlight.

Combining years of expertise in the world of traffic and security monitoring, the Belgium-based company Araani developed specific algorithms for the detection of smoke in critical environments, such as waste plants, chemical environments or tall spaces. This crystallised in Araani’s flagship product, SmokeCatcher.

Fire safety in critical environments

Video analytics might not be new in itself, but the application of the technology in these critical environments is. When it comes to fire safety, traditional smoke detection technologies fall short for two reasons: they detect smoke too late or they generate too many unwanted alarms.

The first situation happens in tall buildings, where smoke cannot reach ceiling-mounted detectors in order to set off a timely alarm. The second problem occurs in harsh environments where dust, chemicals or other contaminants generate false alarms. This might not seem such a big problem at first, but stopping a production line or a critical process for an unwanted alarm or perfectly containable incident can actually amount to huge costs for companies.

Video smoke detection benefits

VSD cameras can see smoke in the video image, appearing right at the source. First of all, this is a very fast way of detecting smoke, because there is no need to wait until the smoke has travelled to a point, beam or aspiration detector. This is time gained for anyone who needs to make crucial decisions about fire extinguishment, possible evacuation or production stops.

Secondly, VSD cameras are very reliable and generate much less unwanted alarms in comparison to conventional detectors. This is because video analytics have become better and better in recognising actual smoke versus other phenomena, such as dust or chemicals.

Probably the biggest advantage of VSD technology is that it gives the operator room for interpretation. Since it allows for visual verification, VSD provides the operator with valuable time to make a well-founded decision. That decision could be calling the emergency services to avoid further damage or human suffering. It could be ignoring the alarm and isolating the fire event in order to prevent the entire operation closing down, which can create additional costs.

You can be part of it

With SmokeCatcher, Araani has developed a reliable early warning system for smoke detection in critical indoor environments based on Axis security cameras. Araani’s mission is to guarantee business continuity and fire safety for companies that operate in highly critical, high-impact environments. Araani has its roots in companies that have pioneered the video analytics industry. The expertise and years of experience of Araani’s founders have resulted in a rock-solid video analytics solution.

Of course, Araani cannot fulfil its mission alone. That’s why the company relies on established partners in the security and fire safety industry, who are helping build the best possible solution for early warning of potential incidents. In return, Araani honours its partners’ commitment with a full program of quality services to help them implement VSD into the environment of the end customer, including training, tools, manuals and support.

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