How often should fire alarms be tested?

The Regulatory Reform (or Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that where it is necessary (whether it’s because of the features of the building, the activity that is completed there, any present hazards, or any other relevant circumstances) it is legally required that a responsible person must make sure the premises are, to the suitable extent, equipped with working fire detectors and alarms, to ensure the safety of all relevant individuals on the premises.

Subsection three of the order says that the chosen person to implement and maintain these measures must be competent. However, a responsible person (or someone appointed by the responsible individual) can conduct testing of the fire alarm system after being trained to do so properly.

What are the different types of fire alarm systems?

There are two main types of fire alarms for commercial buildings, manual and automatic.

The manual fire alarm system needs someone to activate the alarm by a manual call point (outstation), which will register on the panel of the fire alarm. Outstations need to be situated on escape routes and fire exits, with extra outstations in areas at greater risk like commercial kitchens, laundries, and plant rooms.

An automatic fire alarm system is automatically activated by either detecting heat or a certain amount of smoke. It will also have the ability for a user to manually start the alarm near an outstation, which will register on the master station.

Fire alarm systems within commercial or business premises can come in two variants, conventional or addressable. A conventional system will see a detected fire (whether via an automatic detection system or manual activation at a call point) registered on the fire alarm control panel in one of the highlighted zones, for example, the ground floor, warehouse, or plant room, depending on how the system was designed and installed.

An addressable fire alarm system, where a fire is detected and registered on the control panel as a specific location or address within a zone. For example, through an automatic smoke detector in a boiler room on the ground floor, or a manual call point by the rear fire exit.

The type of fire alarm system you need for your premises should be determined and recorded in a current fire risk assessment. Also, to help reduce the risk of a fire in your premises, you should ensure you have fire resistant cable.

How often should a fire alarm be tested?

In section 25.2 of the relevant British Standard regarding testing fire alarm systems confirms that all fire alarm systems in commercial buildings are required to be tested weekly. This is to ensure that there hasn’t been any significant failure and the system is fully in working order.

To test the system, firstly you should create a list of all outstations within the premises as each one will need to be tested in a rotational order, making sure all locations are regularly tested. In smaller buildings, it’s acceptable to test only one location each week.

For instance, in a premises where there aren’t many outstations, they could all be tested over a period of two months in rotational order. In bigger commercial businesses, it might be more suitable to test two or three outstations each week, to guarantee all devices are tested over the same length of time. In the event of a fire in your building, fire proof cable can help buy you more time to ensure everyone gets out safely and there is less damage and downtime to your operations.

Do I need to be trained to test fire alarms?

Section 25.1 says that testing a fire alarm doesn’t need any specialist knowledge and can normally be conducted fairly easily. However, it might be preferable for a competent person to offer initial instruction in testing the system in order for this to be diligently carried out in the future.

The British Standard also states that fire alarm testing can usually be carried out by the occupier of the building. This could be the responsible person, or someone assigned by the responsible person, like a property manager. However, both will need basic instructions in how to do correctly do so.

Summary

Generally speaking, fire alarm systems should be tested on a weekly basis in commercial properties. As well as regularly testing your fire alarm, there are many things you can do to make sure your premises is as safe from fire as possible, including having fire retardant cable.

At TRM, we provide engineered solutions and products that help many industries with their temperature measurement, trace heating, and fireproof wiring with high quality fire cable. Contact us today to see how we can help your business operations.

How beneficial are thermocouple sensors in the automotive industry?

The automotive industry can benefit significantly from a wide range of temperature measurement solutions including a thermocouple sensor, infrared camera, pyrometers, and temperature controllers. This broad range of products can all provide the best solution for all type of automotive needs. In this article, we’ll explore how useful a thermocouple and temperature related solutions are within the automotive industry, so you can gain a better understanding of how they could help you if your operations are in this sector.

Thermocouples and general automotive testing

In the automotive testing process, measuring the temperature of various components is key. When it comes to measuring thermocouples in brakes, a thermocouple wire bundle can quickly get to a stage where the diameter starts to affect the structural integrity.

To effectively deal with this issue, you could get an extra thin and highly accurate type K thermocouple cable. Our thermocouple wires at TRM allow high performance temperature measurements that are consistent and reliable. These thermocouples are designed to handle rigorous conditions, which makes them ideal for use in automotives.

Brake block and disc temperature measurement

A major application for temperature measurement technology in the automotive industry includes measuring the temperature of brake system elements. The surface temperature of the disc has a direct impact on braking performance, which is why temperature measurement systems are essential in the manufacture of efficient braking systems as well as for regular monitoring in the finished product.

The measuring system needs to be able to record the wide range of temperatures that can be found on a brake disc and pad. This is typically done by fitting thermocouples to the disc and pad, and using collector rings in the circuit. Optical measurement systems like thermal cameras and scanners, are also used during brake tests. Thermocouple systems are useful in determining surface pressure distribution within brake pads too.

Exhaust gas temperature measuring

A high-quality thermocouple probe with wide temperature ranges and low response times are very beneficial for applications where surface contact is required, such as for monitoring automotive exhaust temperature. Probes can come in all the common thermocouple types for various applications (K, T, and J).

Turbo chargers are an important part of modern engines, with high rotational speeds and their versatility in coming in different shapes and sizes, a turbo charger is a complex subsystem in itself. Shielding the turbo from excessive temperatures is vital as it is regularly exposed to the high temperature exhaust stream.

This means a reliable thermocouple sensor with a fast response will play an essential role in the control loop. An example of this is a mineral insulated thermocouple cable. It’s thin, strong, and durable enough to last the full lifetime of the car, without compromising on mechanical strength.

Simulated exhaust temperature measurement

Manufacturers are required to test all components to their limits during automotive testing to see how they perform in conditions they are likely to encounter during the service life of the vehicle. Many polymer components that are found in modern automobiles have gone through heat stress tests if they are within close proximity to a heat source.

For example, the bumper is positioned close to the engine exhaust gas, where temperatures can get very high. This means the bumper material needs to be tested to make sure that it’s not negatively affected by the higher temperature of the exhaust, leading to thermal degradation of the polymer, or potentially even a fire, in the worst case.

In this modern testing process, the exhaust system is exposed to simulated heat from a custom electrical heater. A number of thermocouples are recommended for this to measure the temperature at different heat-vulnerable stress points.

Usually, complete accuracy is not important to this application, so thermocouple wires are chosen to ensure the application is cost-effective. This will be helpful in saving money as these heat tests often involve monitoring a large quantity of thermocouples in the entire route of the exhaust system.

 

Contact TRM today for an expertly engineered solution to all your temperature measuring and thermocouple needs within the automotive industry.

Benefits of MI Cable

What is mineral insulated cable?

Mineral insulated cable (MI) is a specialist type of cable that is designed to be used in high temperatures and severe environmental conditions because it’s not flammable, so it won’t be damaged by heat.

MI cable is generally made up of copper conductor wires inside a sheath that can be made of copper, stainless steel, or Inconel, (other materials are available on request). It is insulated by packed minerals specifically magnesium oxide (MgO). Magnesium oxide is the perfect electrical insulation material because it is resistant to oxidation, ionizing radiation, and it’s stable at high temperatures both, physically and chemically.

When the MI cable has been packed with MgO, the mineral insulated cable is annealed and drawdown in size to reach the required diameter. The outer sheath works to protect the conductors, for example thermocouple wires inside from heat, chemicals, or other damage from the environment. For fire proof wiring cables the copper sheath can be covered with an extra, coloured low smoke and fume (LSF) sheath to add in both identification and an additional layer of protection from corrosion.

An MI cable can have a number of wires depending on the application, the configurations that are used most often in temperature measurement are 1, 2, or 3 pairs of conductors. Specifically designed mineral insulated cables might include extra thermocouples in customised configurations. MI cable can come in a range of diameters and lengths, depending on the unique requirements for their use. All TRM MI cables are extensively tested before shipping on to our clients.

What is MI cable used for?

Mineral insulated fire survival cables where created with critical and essential circuit protection in mind. They are ideal for use in protecting buildings and structures for example, high-rises, tunnels, airports, healthcare facilities, and industrial or petrochemical plants.

Additionally, temperature sensors made from MI cable like RTDs and thermocouples, are commonly used in corrosive and high temperature environments such as heat treatment, solid waste incinerators, sintering powdered metals, firing ceramic metals, fuel fired heat exchangers, and nuclear or hydrocarbon-based energy plants.

What are the benefits of MI cable?

Corrosion and oxidisation resistant

The metal sheath that covers MI cable works to protect the conductor wires from oxidising when used in chemically active or damp environments. A high level of corrosion resistance means mineral insulated cable is great for use in areas where failure and replacement could be extremely dangerous or even impossible to do.

For instance, MI cable is used in nuclear plants to monitor core temperatures. It would be incredibly dangerous if the temperature controllers were not getting accurate readings, and it would be challenging to attempt to repair or replace the cables in this type of environment.

Non-reactive insulation

The MgO within MI cables offers unparalleled non-reactive insulation, which prevents the conductor wires from coming into contact with either each other or caustic substances like oils, solvents, or water. This is to make sure for example that the thermocouple probes always stay accurate, which is vital in applications like heat treating or sintering where the quality of the product could be negatively affected by fluctuations in temperature.

The insulation doesn’t burn

The insulation inside MI cables does not burn, meaning it is ideal for fire protection applications where it could be disastrous if a fire broke out. MI cables are ideal for critical applications such as medical devices, power plants, and oil rigs. Simply put any essential circuits would be safer with the installation of mineral insulated cables.

High levels of precise accuracy

Since the metal sheath and MgO insulation also protects thermocouple and RTD probes, they’re not easily subject to malfunction or inaccurate temperature measurements. MI cables are carefully calibrated to achieve international standards, meaning they provide accurate and precise temperature measurements across long duty cycles with very little to no loss of accuracy at all.

Also, thanks to the mineral insulation, MI cables can effectively function in high temperature conditions without their accuracy levels being affected. This makes them very useful for kilns, firing ceramics or heat-treating metals, or any other high temperature process.

These cables retain their accuracy during and after exposure to high temperatures, making them ideal as a temperature probe in these kinds of operations. Additionally, for industries like medical devices or aerospace where safety standards are enforced strictly and deviations from processes could lead to serious or even life-threatening quality issues.

Contact TRM today for find out how we can help you with our fireproof wiring, temperature measurement, and trace heating expertise. We can create tailored solutions for business in many industries to ensure the safety of their processes.

What is a thermocouple and where is it used?

What is a thermocouple?

A thermocouple is a sensor that is used for measuring temperature. The sensor has two dissimilar metal wires joined at one end and is connected to a thermometer or another thermocouple-capable device at the other end. When they are correctly configured, they can provide temperature measurements across a broad range of temperatures.

Stable thermocouples are highly versatile as temperature sensors, and so are often used in various applications, from industrial use to a regular thermocouple you can find on utilities and standard appliances. There are many different models and technical specifications for thermocouples, so it’s very important to understand the basics of how it works, its structure, and its ranges to get a better insight into what type of thermocouple and material are right for your application.

How does a thermocouple work?

When two wires made of different metals are joined together at both ends and one of the ends is then heated, there is a consistent current which flows in the thermoelectric circuit. If the circuit breaks at the centre, the net open circuit voltage is a part of the junction temperature and composition of the two metals. This means that when heat or cold is applied to the junction of the metals a voltage is produced that can be linked back to the temperature.

Thermocouple types

Thermocouples can come in multiple different calibrations or combinations of metals. The most commonly used are the base metals referred to as N, T, E, J, and K types. As well as this there are high temperature calibrations called noble metals. These are types R, S, C, and GB.

Where are thermocouples used?

Thermocouples are the most commonly used temperature sensors in the world because they can measure a wide range of temperatures, are durable, and are relatively inexpensive. When it comes to high temperatures, fast response, small temperatures, and a high vibration, you will likely find a thermocouple wire collecting the temperature measurements. Below we’ll be looking at just a few examples of where these sensors are used, so you will know how they can be applied in your operations.

Food applications

Thermocouples are used in many different types of applications within the food and drink industry, such as:

  • Clean-in-place sensors
  • Penetration probes
  • Oven control
  • Food chain monitoring
  • Hotplate control and monitoring
  • Steam kettle temperature control

Extruders

Extruders need high temperatures and pressures. Also, they have a unique thread adapter that works to position the tip of the sensor in the molten plastic under the high-pressure conditions located there.

Measuring low temperature

Type E, K, T, and N thermocouples can all be used to record low temperatures, as low as -200C. However, the alloys used need to be specially chosen for use at these temperatures to meet the published accuracies.

Many manufacturers ensure their alloys are calibrated for use from 0C and above. The same alloys can be used to measure down to -200C, but the accuracy might change slightly from the established values. If you purchase individual calibrations, you can determine offset values.

Furnaces

The right thermocouple for this application will depend on the furnace conditions it will be exposed to. When deciding on the right thermocouple, some factors that will need to be considered are:

  • The temperature capabilities of the thermocouple cables
  • Temperature capabilities of the sheath or protective coating (metal or ceramic)
  • The environment it will be used in (air, reducing, oxidising)
  • The configuration for mounting

Molten metal

It is difficult to measure the temperature of molten metal due to the high temperatures and harsh conditions involved. The only option for getting contact measurements in this area is to use Type K or N Base Metal thermocouples, or Types R, S, and B Platinum thermocouples.

When base metal thermocouples are used, the wires are generally large in diameter, with ceramic insulators and ceramic and/or metal protection tubes. The increased diameter of the Type K or N wires degrade slower to enable enough time for measurements to be taken before the high temperature conditions break down the wires.

Platinum thermocouple wires, unlike the base metal Type K and N, will become soft instead of becoming corroded, due to long term annealing and ultimately fail because of grain growth.

Contact TRM today for help with temperature measurement solutions for your business’ operations.

Fire Survival In Modern Buildings

The difficult job of making sure our modern buildings are as safe as they can be

Thermal Resources Management have a long history as MICC and BICC of supplying both the commercial and industrial construction industries. From the 1930’s BICC were manufacturing and installing the same seamless tube Mineral Insulated Fire Survival Cable as we make today in Churches across the UK… much of it is still working today!

The construction indThe ustry represents a unique challenge in terms of promoting our fireproof and heating cable products. To ensure our products are used correctly we work at all levels of the supply chain. This helps end users ensure they get the right product at the highest quality but also the best life time cost!

Please review the following sections on how we can specifically help each part of the construction supply chain.

End Users

When it comes to who has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the people who will eventually use a new building the end users/owners must surely take on this mantle.

Why? Because they or the building in their building will be the ones who in the event of a disaster or major emergency like a large scale fire will be the first to face the trauma of it.

It’s their staff, tenants, guests, visitors, commuters, patients and even perhaps pupils that will experience things first hand and will rightly expect the building to have the very best lifesaving systems…. Regardless of cost the alarm, emergency lighting, ventilation, access, firefighting and suppression systems etc must do the job they are required to do… they simply must work!

Of course, the cost is a major influencer in all construction projects around the World but before the cost of a build comes the reason to build or job the building must succeed in doing. So it stands to reason that any product to be used in the building during or after construction needs the same approach… i.e. a simple method or thought process like the following is needed;

  1. What does it need to do?
  2. Can it do it?
  3. How much will it cost?
  4. When can we get it?
  5. Etc

There is clearly no use in reviewing products from the cost only angle. If it doesn’t work then it doesn’t matter what the price is, it just shouldn’t be used!

It is however unfair of course to give all the responsibility the end users/owners of the buildings, they trust the people they employ to help them design and build their project to the highest possible specification.

Owners and end users also must trust the governing bodies and standards associations to provide adequate tests to ensure the products used will perform the job they are required to do.

They must also trust the manufacturers to market their products correctly and truthfully, especially when it comes to potential life-saving equipment and technology.

Sadly the last two points cannot be guaranteed.

MICC provides a voice for the Mineral Insulated Cable Industry. In the Fire Survival Wiring section of our website, you will find open, honest and factual information concerning the performance of our MI cables in a real fire… the only one that matters.

Well before the sales process begins we offer free training and consultation, our aim is to make buildings around the World safer by advising on where MI fireproof cables should be used. The information we give is fact-based and backed up by industry experience and research.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.

Consultants

After the End Users / Building Owners have decided to start a project very early on they appoint a design consultant. This may be a direct approach or for large scale projects may be in the form of a tender where a consortium of companies might win a package of work within the budget set by the client.

The key thing to note here is that the end users will look to the consultants for advice and expertise in what standards need to be employed in the building construction. Savvy end users may already have an idea of what they want but generally, their consulting partners will design the building based on their knowledge and experience, ensuring the building fits their client’s requirements.

With this in mind, it is vital that consultants know as much as possible about the potential life-saving systems they are recommending to be used in the building. So how do they gain this knowledge?…

It may be a mixture of some or all of the following; past experience, current local or international standards, product research and education / other training.

When looking specifically at the choices made for the Fireproof cabling in a modern building two important factors are usually considered; how long must the circuit work for and what standard must the product meet.

Once the egress time is decided, usually upwards of one hour to ensure the building users have time to escape with the lifesaving circuits still operational, a suitable standard is called for to ensure the products used fit for purpose.

It is of course not the consultants’ job to test the products themselves to give them and their client the peace of mind that they will do the job intended… The problem is the standards cannot always be 100% trusted to confirm the performance a product in question. Standard committees will only guarantee product performance based on the specific laboratory tests employed, they also usually have small print which must be understood before placing full trust in them. And finally, they say it is up to the Consultant to still make the right choice as they only provide a minimum guideline of potential performance.

This leaves consultants and indeed end users in a very difficult position, are they really expected then to conduct their own tests to ensure the products specified will perform the jobs intended? Well in the past this has been what has been needed to ensure the best / right products are installed… for example, the Kings Cross underground fire in 1987 where 27 people lost their lives. After this fire the London Underground developed their own test for fire performance cables known as BS6387 enhanced, the only cable to pass this test for a long time was MICC fire survival cables.

MICC works around the World to educate and consult on the proper use of fireproof cables. Using tried and tested methodologies and research we bridge the gap between real-world performance and current international standards.

Our training and consultation is free and simply designed to help save lives in the event of a fire or other serious event where a higher performing cable is required, for example, risk of terrorist attack.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.

Contractors

When it comes to the actual construction of a building then the contractors employed are on the front line. Their knowledge and experience are vital to ensure the end users dream and the consultant’s plan are realised in the desired way.

However it is rarely a straight forward task, even the best-laid plans can need a little tweaking to ensure they work. The critical thing here though is the consultant, designer or architects and contractors are on the same page. If the contractor doesn’t know what a specified standard or product is they may not know how to use it correctly or where to even source it from. Sometimes what is not understood is feared and contractors rightly will do all they can to ensure they complete their part of the construction in the shortest time to the lowest possible cost.

It is vital then that contractors know as much as possible about current standards and where the relevant products fit in with them. Then they must know how to work with them properly to ensure there are no delays on site which could delay the project and increase its cost.

MICC understands how important contractors are and also hold training seminars with them regularly around the World to advise and demonstrate how Mineral Insulated Cables work, and how they should be used correctly to make installation quick and easy.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.

Distributors

MICC believes that in order to have the greatest potential to save lives through better specification and use of fireproof cables all levels of the supply chain must understand the real-World situation.

As the pages in the Fire Survival Wiring section area of this website demonstrate, the fact is soft skin cables do not give the performance they or current standards infer. It is not that they are poor cables, more than they are often used incorrectly or relied upon to give survival times which they have no hope in meeting.

Distributors and wholesalers are vital to the construction industry and play a very important role in providing products quickly and to the required standard. They are also ideally placed to give an extra layer of advice/peace of mind to contractors / installers by being able to help recommend and demonstrate proper use of retailed products.

MICC support the wholesale and distribution industry by giving full training on the principle, technical specification and proper termination & installation of Mineral Insulated Fire Proof cables.

This holistic approach by supporting all levels of the construction supply chain is best way to ensure lives are less at risk in the event of a major incident including fire in any modern building.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.

Brexit Help

At MICC we understand Brexit means new challenges for many of our European customers and partners at a time when nobody is in need of additional challenges.

We hope the attached document can help to explain the new processes we need to follow in the post-Brexit world and make the transition as straightforward as possible.

MICC are seasoned exporters with 20 years experience and are happy to support and guide our customers in any way we can. For any specific questions or concerns on how to do business with MICC from within the EU today, please contact our sales team: sales@miccltd.com

Brexit Help Document

Michael Lee Celebrates 20 Years with MICC

As part of MICC Group’s 20 Years celebration, we would like to say a special thank you to Michael Lee, who has been with MICC since the very beginning.

Through leading the shipping team with tremendous hard work and dedication, Michael has been at the heart of MICC’s growth into a global manufacturing brand.

Congratulations on 20 Years at MICC, Michael. Thank you for everything you have accomplished.

Even the Newcastle fans in the office hope Sunderland beat Oxford for you tomorrow… probably

Fire & Risk Management Publication

MICC’s regional manager for Asia/Pacific, Richard Hosier, has had an article published in the Fire & Risk Management Journal in October 2019.

Richard discusses is wiring for life safety and firefighting systems up to code in our buildings, and is this enough to ensure safety?

Read the article here

To learn more about the Fire & Risk Management Journal, please visit www.frmjournal.com/

MICC employee Shaun McIntosh qualifies for 2019 Bowls World Championship

Shaun McIntosh MICC

We are proud and delighted to announce that Shaun McIntosh has qualified for the 2019 Bowls World Championship!

Shaun is sponsored  by MICC and is one of our employees based in our Washington, Tyne & Wear, Mineral Insulated Cable factory HQ. After many years of hard work and great National success he has been able to qualify for the World Championships via becoming a member of the Professional Bowls Association (PBA).

We spoke to Shaun about his journey to the top of his sport and here’s what he had to say;

I had my first game of bowls when I was seven years old, I used to go along and watch my father regularly played to a high standard – I think this is where my love of the game came from.

After many hard years of practice I started to win junior event titles regularly, this caught the eye of the selection committee for the full men’s team at my local club Hebburn Bowls Association, at the age of 15 I won the men’s singles championship becoming the youngest in the clubs history to do so, after this win I received my first Durham County cap, I remained in the team for that season which ended with us being National Title Champions – since then I have went on to win four English Titles in total.

At the age of 18 I had my first England Under 25’s trial, on this occasion I did not make the team.

2019 has been my biggest season yet, securing sponsorship from MICC Ltd has given me the platform to join the Professional Bowls Association (PBA) which gave me the opportunity to qualify for the 2019 World Championships, after eleven hours on the green myself and my pairs partner qualified for the 2019 World Championships which will take place at Potters Hotel Norfolk in early 2019 – which is also a live televised event.

I look forward to 2019 and hope to achieve all my title goals”

We all wish Shaun the best of luck. For more details on the event please visit;

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