One of the most effective ways of preventing fires in buildings is to reduce the level of oxygen in the air. And now, the International Organisation for Standardisation has published the first-ever international Standard for oxygen reduction systems (ORS).
What is an Oxygen Reduction System?
Rather than a system that detects the first instances of fire and suppresses it, an ORS system is designed to prevent a fire from starting at all. It does this by using innovative technology that reduces the oxygen level in the room so that there is not enough oxygen for a fire to break out, but enough for humans to breathe easily.
Norman Disney & Young manager of Fire Protection Services, Damian Condello, says ORS systems typically lower the normal oxygen content from the normal ambient oxygen level of 20.9 per cent.
“A space which has an oxygen content of 15 per cent is perfectly suitable for human life but is not sufficient to support combustion or an ignition source, as most flammable solid materials and liquids cannot ignite in environments with an oxygen level lower than 16 per cent.”
ISO spokeswoman Clare Naden said installing such systems can be a complex business, and requires in-depth knowledge of the space being protected, how it is used, and by whom.
“Currently, there are various national standards and technical guidelines in place, mainly in Europe, but what has been missing is an internationally agreed set of requirements for quality, safety and performance that everyone can use. Until now.”
ISO 20338, Oxygen reduction systems for fire prevention — Design, installation, planning and maintenance, specifies minimum requirements and defines the specifications for the design, installation and maintenance of fixed oxygen reduction systems. It applies to those systems that use nitrogen-enriched air used for fire prevention in buildings and industrial production plants, and can be used for new systems as well as for the extension and modification of existing systems.
Alan Elder, chair of the ISO technical subcommittee that developed the standard, said it will be useful to users of ORS, such as facilities owners, as well as for meeting regulatory requirements.
“Insurance companies, manufacturers, installers and users will all benefit from ISO 20338, particularly from regions outside Europe, because it will enable them to improve the performance and safety of ORS, as well as provide a way for governments to set regulatory requirements, and for users to meet them.”