If I could retrofit my home or business and install a sprinkler system, I would do it quickly. Sprinkler systems save lives and prevent fires from spreading, plain and simple. They are not complicated systems and work by putting water on fire.
Businesses started installing fire sprinklers in their warehouses and factories because they were tired of losing massive amounts of product due to fires going unnoticed and developing into conflagrations. Insurance companies were not happy about paying the huge claims, so they came up with a solution of requiring businesses to install fire sprinklers. New homes are now installing fire sprinkler systems and getting insurance discounts.
Over the course of 29 years in my role as a New York City firefighter, Officer and chief, I have responded to thousands of calls for carbon monoxide and gas emergencies. Both of these types of emergencies, if go unchecked, have the potential to cause a lot of death and destruction. When natural gas and propane accumulate in a space and reach their explosive levels, the results can at times be catastrophic. Carbon monoxide, aka, “the silent killer” is just as deadly but in a different way, it is odorless, tasteless and colorless.
Here we are 150 years later and we have a similar situation at hand. Every day thousands of homes and businesses will develop a gas leak or carbon monoxide leak in the aging piping system that exists in most premises. Gas by its nature is very explosive, if a leak goes unnoticed and reaches a level of 5 percent and has an ignition source an explosion will occur. It doesn’t take much of a spark to ignite the gas, in fact, something as innocent as a static charge can cause a devastating event.
Propane may even be worse, the danger being that its explosive level is as low as 2.9 percent and it is heavier than air which means that it will accumulate in the lowest levels of your residence. By migrating low instead of high, the gas will not be detected by its’ occupants until it is too late. Think of propane as water leaking into your basement. Once an ignition source is found, it will result in a major explosion.
There are systems that now exist here in the United States that can help prevent these catastrophes. Flowtech Safety Systems is a new product that the company says works just like a fire sprinkler system. If you have a leak, it will stop the flow of gas.
Once a small amount of gas is detected, the system will send a signal to the control panel. The control panel will then activate the ball valve on the shut off near your gas supply and shut the gas to the residence. Once the gas is shut down, it will be impossible to put it back on until the leak has been rectified. The system will continue to sense the gas, keeping the premises safe. The same holds true with the carbon monoxide sensors. If 30 parts per million is detected for more than two hours, the system will realize that a problem exists and will shut the gas to the offending appliance.
One of the features I like is if this system were installed with the gas and carbon monoxide sensors, it would shut the gas down in the event of a fire. This would happen because residential fires produce a tremendous amount of carbon monoxide in the smoke. When the carbon monoxide is detected, it will cause the gas to be shut down, preventing further risk/danger for the firefighters.
In the cold weather when the ground is frozen and/or there is snow covering the ground, gas can potentially migrate into people’s homes because it becomes trapped and can’t dissipate into the atmosphere. Although a shut off system may not prevent the gas from accumulating, the sensor would alert the residents of the danger. The problem is even worse in areas where there is fracking happening in the surrounding area. The gas that is migrating into the house is not odorized, meaning that mercaptan isn’t added leaving just the methane accumulating unnoticed. Methane is like carbon monoxide; colorless, odorless and tasteless. In this instance a Gas Sensor like Flowtech Safety System would alert the occupants well before the gas reaches its’ explosive level.
It is unacceptable that there should be any losses due to gas leaks or carbon monoxide emergencies, the technology exists now to prevent them. Isn’t it time to make these emergencies a thing of the past? Let’s put these killers to bed.
This article was supplied by Flowtech.