building. Simultaneously, one triggering mechanism was the FACU tells the the requirement to install buildings heating, continuously monitoring gas ventilation and detectors where “facilities air conditioning are unattended.” This systems to unattended location shut down varies between because A) it distilleries, but they doesn’t want do exist. We often excessive put alcohol sensors in levels of alcohol bonded storage areas, vapor distributed tank storage areas, and around the frankly, we often recommend building, and B) it they be installed “knows” the day-toin the general HORN/STROBE DEVICE PHOTO COURTESY SYSTEM SENSOR® day HVAC system is distillery. Alcohol not explosion-proof vapor is heavier equipment! Lastly, the FACU activates the than air and can be moved around in a lot explosion proof ventilation system (you of ways. It will collect in low spaces and have one of those, right?) which safely the smallest of sparks can make things removes alcohol-vapor-saturated air from “exciting,” so therefore we ask the alcohol inside the building replacing it with fresh sensors to do two things. air from outdoors. First, we want them to continuously Okay, you know about the heart and soul monitor the comparative volume of alcohol of your alarm system and you know about vapor in the air. A little vapor, no big deal. initiating devices, the little things arousing Enough vapor to lift the roof off this place the FACU’s, is there anything left? Of when it ignites… that’s a problem. Alcohol course there is. How are you going to know sensors are adjustable and can be set at that the initiating devices have aroused various “upper limits.” This limit is the the FACU? Aren’t you going to get in on maximum concentration of alcohol vapor the fun? You are, as the FACU is going to in the air that this little beast will accept tell you of its arousal through alarm system before it too becomes aroused and, like duct “notification devices.” smokes, arousal of an alcohol sensor sets Notification comes in two formats; off a chain reaction of life saving events. audible and visual, which means (duh) First, it tells the FACU that something you hear and see that something is going unacceptable is taking place and the FACU wrong. The most common occupant jumps into action. The FACU initiates the notification are horn/strobe devices, building’s occupant notification system, which blink blindingly and scream telling everyone it’s time to leave the
horribly. If these activate and occupants don’t pay complete attention, there’s not much anyone can do for them. The least commonly used occupant notification is what’s called “voice evacuation.” Instead of the screaming horn, a soothing voice warbles across the room telling you the place is on fire. Warble, blinding blinking lights, or screaming horns all mean the same thing: something bad is happening and it’s time to leave. My hope is that this exercise has demonstrated that your fire alarm system can be and is required to do many things in your distillery, all of which are intended to keep you alive, and many of which can help to keep your distillery in one piece. The last thing that many FACU’s can do, is provide premise security. Door sensors, motion detectors and the like can keep the bad guys from stealing your hooch and from messing with your recipes. Talk with your alarm system designer and see which system is right for your distillery regardless of whether your code guy has jumped on you about not having one. Like seatbelts and airbags, your alarm system can be a bit of a hindrance, but when they are used and work as intended, you’re glad you have them. Be well and distill safely.
Shawn Bergeron is an NFPA and ICC certified fire protection specialist and building official with Bergeron Technical Services in North Conway, New Hampshire. For more information or assistance call (603) 356-0022 or visit www.bergerontechnical. com. They will be happy to help you with your distillery no matter how near or far.
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