Gas leaks are a major problem and need to be proactively searched for and identified. Unmonitored gas leaks not only compromise the safety of a facility – they also put staff, students, educators and the public at risk. At VSC Fire & Security, we’re focused on innovation and developing strong relationships with our customers. So, when our one of our largest clients asked us to help them with an innovative solution for gas detection, we were ready to take on the task. Here’s how the experience played out.
Our History with this Client
We had worked with this client to install a VESDA Air Sampling system in their Data Center, throughout the support area of the building addition. This included the Chiller room, Main electrical rooms, the Generator and the Battery Rooms. VESDA systems were installed during the 3rd phase of the original construction of the building. Because we handle the inspection and maintenance at this facility, we can “watch” the systems we installed and provide added value to the customer. For over 6 years since the VESDA were installed, air flow faults were reported due to the opening of the large roll up doors that directly affected the air flow. Other than the required filter changes, and yearly inspection, these systems have continued to be solid and problem free.
Our Customer’s Request
The customer had heard of the newer ECO gas sensor by VESDA that could be tied directly to the sampling pipes for detecting different types of gases. The client was inquiring about making use of this new gas sensor technology in their battery rooms where we currently had the VESDA systems installed. The ceilings are 20’ in height with spot type hydrogen sensors mounted on the ceiling that are monitored by the BMS system. These hydrogen detectors were installed when the 1st phase of the construction was carried out in 2008. There are multiple rows of batteries which are 12 feet high that cover the entire battery room for both battery rooms. Since the detectors were installed at the ceiling, and now the battery racks are live, you would need to erect a scaffolding system across the entire room to replace or calibrate these existing hydrogen detectors (these should be calibrated every year).
Communicating with VESDA
We first reached out to VESDA and found that the ECO gas sensor would only work with 5 holes in each pipe run. The current VESDA system has 4 pipe runs per unit with 8 to 10 holes per pipe run. In order to use the VESDA gas sensing solution, we would need to run new piping across the entire room. Instead, we investigated replacing the VESDA control unit with a Notifier FAAST addressable aspiration system. This approach would re-use the existing room piping and we could add the Honeywell hydrogen sensor at the new FAAST units. This will make it possible for the new unit to provide current air sampling detection for early warning detection, and the added hydrogen sensing from the same unit.
Collaborating with Product Engineers
We worked with the product engineers from Honeywell, System Sensor and Notifier to verify that the existing pipe runs would work with the FAAST units. Once we had the green light to proceed from both the manufacturer and the client, we replaced one unit at a time; one in each battery room, allowing the second VESDA units to remain until the new units were settled. The original units by VESDA were Scanners, which have 4 ports and pipe identification. We replaced the VESDA Scanners with the FAAST-2000 series units which also had pipe identification.
Shortly after installing the FAAST units, we kept getting a trouble reporting for pipe identification and the solution was to turn this feature “off” at the software level. This would give the manufacture more time to study the problem while removing the “trouble” report from the customer. While the system still worked, it just didn’t have the pipe identification which was an important aid in finding the source of an alarm in this maze of battery racks.
During the period of review by the product engineers, we received a call from the site stating that the Midas hydrogen sensor had gone into alarm. “No hurry, it’s probably another false alarm”. Our tech, armed with a sniffer, entered the space to find the handheld meter pegged in an extremely hydrogen rich room. One of the building’s exhaust fans for the Battery room had failed, however the site engineers didn’t believe it was a real alarm because the BMS hydrogen sensor didn’t react. So, our FAAST and Midas combination did function, less the pipe identification, and potentially saved someone’s life.
Honeywell Purchases VESDA
Next came the real problem – Honeywell purchased VESDA. Now the companies had two parallel products and eventually one product would be phased out, i.e. FAAST. We now began pushing VESDA to test with the Midas gas sensor. We needed them to sign off that their product would work with our current pipe arrangement, with the existing number of holes. Supplying all the calculations and designs, VESDA engineers did sign off on the change.
Addressing the Money and Expense
Now with the final direction, all that was left was settling the money and expense. Honeywell and VESDA stood beside us and worked with us to make this right. There’s nothing more rewarding than having a successful partnership with our clients and industry professionals like Honeywell and VESDA.
The End Result
We’re able to offer our client’s facility the most efficient and comprehensive and reliable gas leak detection services available for their unique situation. In addition, VESDA now has a better gas detection solution with the Midas gas sensor and we have a product installed that we can stand behind for our customer.