BSI has just published a new standard on determining the placement and number of flame and gas (F&G) detection devices needed to optimize safety in an explosive or toxic atmosphere. This blog post outlines what the standard contains and why it matters to detector manufacturers and retailers.
Those who manufacture, sell or distribute flame and gas (F&G) detection devices and software should always be supporting consultants and end-users with system design. This is simply because the stakes are very high when it comes to explosive atmosphere sites. These are places where people, the environment and the future of businesses are at risk. The highest possible levels of safety are crucial.
For that reason, of course, it’s increasingly been the case that F&G detection devices incorporate software mapping tools. Manufacturers design these tools in order to help system designers know how many devices to deploy and where to put them.
However, they do not, on their own, supply a complete answer. The missing link is that designers still don’t have general principles and guidance on the performance levels that the detectors are supposed to achieve once they’ve been deployed.
For this reason – and oddly – consultants brought in to conduct third-party safety reviews will sign off on a system, yet still have to state that as no standard exists on which to provide a basis of adequacy, they accept no liability if the system is not in fact fit for purpose.
It was clearly time to remedy this situation. So BSI went to work to convene a committee of experts. Given the size and complexity of the subject matter, and the fact that no similar standard was available to consult, it took longer than usual for the panel to produce a standard that they were satisfied included all the essential guidance and was in a coherent and logical structure.
The draft standard was published in January 2020. Having undergone a full public consultation, the final standard has been published in August 2020 as BS 60080:2020 Explosive and toxic atmospheres: Hazard detection mapping – Guidance on the placement of permanently installed flame and gas detection devices using software tools and other techniques.
Permanently installed F&G detectors
What does BS 60080:2020 do? As its name suggests, it gives guidance on the placement of permanently installed F&G detectors. It also covers the setting of performance standards for coverage, placement of devices and technology selection.
The standard also provides guidance on the most commonly used methods of mapping and/or modelling, these being: prescriptive, volumetric and scenario-based. It also gives guidance on operations, maintenance and the availability/reliability of the system to complement relevant standards. It defines permanently installed detection systems as including optical flame detection (including ultraviolet, infrared and visual), flammable gas/vapour detection and toxic gas detection.
The standard is relevant to applications where optical flame detection is used as a means of detecting flaming fires in internal and external environments; where a gas detection system is used as a method of explosion protection; where the hazard arises from the release or accumulation of explosive gases and vapours and where the hazard arises from the release or accumulation of toxic gases.
The standard complements and supports existing related explosive atmosphere standards. Its use will increase the level of safety in explosive atmospheres, particularly in gas and oil environments. Importantly, the standard supplies a benchmark requirement against which to review a hazard detection system. As such it will increase the confidence and reputation of those organizations that demonstrate they’re doing everything they can to safeguard people in the vicinity of their sites.
In summary, this has been a rare opportunity for a new British Standard to pave the way on hazard detection mapping, greatly decreasing the risk in many explosive atmosphere sites and their vicinities, and filling a gap in the market for guidance in this area. As such it will be an essential tool for all F&G device manufacturers and sellers wanting to work with consultants and end users on optimizing system design.