Okay, if you want technology to work, and at all costs to avoid the AAI's current problems, with crowd management. :-) Here are some pointers from the Saudi's... Read on and Enjoy.
Brian O' Hanlon.
In anticipation of the global meetings of the International Monetary fund, and World Bank organisations in Saudi Arabia, the Dubai World Trade Centre entered a 26 month long building programme (including design, client approval, tendering and construction phases) to ready themselves, by extending their existing facilities.
The existing Dubai World Trade Centre, has got a total of, 8x 4100mÂ² exhibition halls. The new Convention Centre and associated facilities contains the following:
8400 mÂ², 13m high convention hall space, which can accommodate 6,000 people seated.
14 storey 28,000mÂ² office building.
3 storey height 7,000mÂ² â€˜podiumâ€™ building.
20,000mÂ² basement level car park,
50,000mÂ² six storey car parking building.
3,000mÂ² three storey height block for offices and meeting rooms.
Separate contracts were handed out to build adjoining hotel and catering facilities to accomodate all of the guests, and an overall architect was responsible for the landscaping and development masterplan. With a large international multi-disiplinary firm brought in, to handle the actual complex systems, that have to work, to make a proper facility capable of hosting this class of event.
Problem with such a beautiful location for a convention centre, is in the sunlight, heat and humidity. Which in terms of the use of the building, a place where crowds of people come together to relax and enjoy a convention, is a significant problem from a servicing perspective. In fact, the architecture to design a convention centre in Dubai, wouldnâ€™t be difficult, because of such wonderful light and weather in general.
Even when the Dry bulb temperature drops, especially in the evenings the humidity can simultaneous rise through the ceiling to get to like 80-90%! External summer conditions of 46Â°C dry bulb and 29Â°C wet bulb. Winter daily dry bulb temperature conditions of 28Â°C, even in the coldest month of February. With a possibility of bad sandstorms occurring during these months too, makes for a building complex, which is totally self contained and artificially ventilated and cooled. Sorry Environmentalists.
Very special care was taken with the glazing selection, and a U-Value of 1.8 Watts per meter square Kelvin, with a shading coeffecient of 0.42 was found to be a reasonable goal.
The underground car parkâ€™s ventilation system had to provide six air changes per hour under normal conditions, while providing as much as 10 air changes per hour in the case of fire breaking out. The multi-storey car park was naturally ventilated.
The trouble with the 13 meter high convention hall space, was that convention sprinkler systems would be ineffective. The possibility of the water spray turning into mist by the time it reached the floor was deemed unacceptable. So this required the installation of a deluge system. Basically water is stored in huge underground tanks and the space becomes literally washed down with gallons and gallons of this water, in the case of a fire.
In the convention hall space, where all of the main events would take place, solenoid valves were installed controlled by flame detectors that view particular zones within the convention centre and activate the system in that particular area. Protection is not only provided for the main spaces, but careful attention is lavished on an ancillary spaces and voids, in roofs, walls and floors too. So Void detection is provided through air aspirating systems. I think, these are like long thin narrow ducts, that periodically suck an air sample from the void space, and analyse it for smoke particles and that sort of thing.
Following extensive calculations and evacuation scenarios it was agreed that sprinkler protection should be installed throughout the development. Along with hose reels and standpipes throughout also. All the staircases were pressurised, and smoke ventilation systems installed in all zones of the large convention hall space. Gaseous fire extinguishing systems were installed throughout the main electrical, telecom and IT areas. For more details, of the kinds of systems used in locations of computer hardware, backup generators and plant rooms, please see the end of this document. The annunciation system, used normally was public address and background music, had got emergency message override facility, and is used during the phased evacuation messaging to appropriate areas of the complex.
Detailed monthly meetings were held throughout the design, approval, tendering and construction stages of the project, with both the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Organisations, on the specific requirements for IT, media and security.
Altogether, the systems implemented, do come along ways from Ireland's humble origins in public assembly safety management, when during the Stardust 1981 disaster, evacuation was delayed and the crowd present at the Valentine's day disco looked on, whilst two employees tried unsuccesfully to extinguish the disco seating which was on fire, before the whole place became an inferno, with no adequate means of escape. 48 died.
Anyhow, just something to think about. The Saudi's basically seemed to rely no only on 'means of escape' to safe occupants, but invested heavily also in the total extinguishment and prevention of the fire, to safe the property. So a Convention is about both, saving the structure and occupants simulaneoulsly in the event of fire. Obviously any architectural proposal for a Convention Centre would have to bear this in mind, from the outset. And now,... while I am at it.... Here is a very brief but interesting Introduction into Fixed Gaseous Extinguishing Systems.
Fixed gaseous systems are essential in collocation centres. Passive measures alone cannot prevent the outbreak of fire and it becomes neccessary to address how a fire event may be successfully detected and addressed. As part of the overall fire solution, fire protection systems can play a vital role, these comprising integrated detection, alarm, control and active fire extinguishing elements working together to achieve the required level of protection.
In many applications, fire detection alone is inappropriate since intervention by personnel, possibly using portable extinguishers, may be slow and is dependent on the facility being manned. Fire containment by passive means may be possible but even if confined to one enclosure, combustion is likely to cause direct fire and secondary heat and smoke damage of significant impact. Active automatic fire extinguishment often represents the preferred solution and we commonly consider sprinklers in this respect.
For computer suites, electronic data processing facilities and other high value assets, the relative slowness of response of sprinklers to fire and the potential for secondary damage caused by the water itself leads to consideration of a more appropriate option for rapid fire extinguishment.
Many will be familiar with halon systems which became prevalent from the 1960s. Their success became firmly established but the agents themselves have an ozone depletion potential (odp) and became subject to the Montreal Protocol, resulting in a ban on production from 1994. The recent European regulation EC 2037/2000 now requires all non-essential halon systems to be removed from service throughout the EU by the end of this year.
Since the mid 1990s, a number of new generation gaseous total flooding systems have emerged using zero odp agents. There are two designations of agents: chemical gases and inert gases. While they have a range of attributes, all are environmentally-acceptable, are clean gases at ambient temperatures and offer efficient fire extinction performance at concentrations below defined human toxicity levels. Also, they are recognised in current fixed systems standards and are available in third party-approved systems.
So what are the benefits to the end user of these systems?
Systems are normally provided to offer automatic discharge (with manual override) as part of a detection, control and extinguishment package. As such, they are not dependent on manual recognition of a fire condition or on manual intervention to extinguish the fire.
Total flooding gases are deployed at concentrations which achieve rapid extinguishment of the fire regardless of its location within the protected zone. This strictly limits the damage to sensitive and valuable equipment caused by the fire itself and by the resulting heat, smoke and corrosive combustion products. This preserves life safety, minimises hardware and data losses, and limits down-time and subsequent loss of revenue.
The gases are non-corrosive and electrically non-conductive so cause no secondary damage due to the agent itself. This contrasts with sprinklers and other options such as dry powder and foam.
The gases are safe for human exposure. Chemical agents are used well below their established toxicity levels while inert agents are equally safe based on resulting oxygen level considerations.
Storage requirements are rarely, if ever, an impediment to installation of these systems. Chemical gases are the more space/weight effective and might be preferred where limited space is available. While inert gas systems require a greater number of cylinders, ease of flow through the distribution manifold enables storage very remote from the protected area.
Similarly, systems can readily serve a wide range of protected environments of significant complexity and varying size. Typically, protection is provided for rooms plus the floor and ceiling voids where appropriate. Although more systems deal with solid surface fires, different design considerations can be used to extinguish liquid furl fires for example, hence their use in turbine, generator and other machinery enclosures.
Now approaching a decade of active service in many countries across the world, the new generation fixed gaseous systems use in valuable asset environments includes not just the more obvious applications in computer suites and other electrical facilities but also in situations as diverse as flight simulators, hazardous stores, turbines enclosures, cultural heritage sites, archives and marine vessels.
There are many projects which illustrate where fixed gas systems have been installed. In the mid 1990s, an American communications organisation built 70 new sites to house telephone, high speed data and video service equipment. Investing 60 m in 'hardened' facilities and with each location having 5-7 m of hardware, clean gas systems with high sensitivity smoke detection were selected to not only protect high value equipment but, even more importantly, maintain continuity of service and on-going revenue. Most of the extinguishing systems were installed in the ceiling areas, allowing maximum use of room space for communications hardware.
The Alexandria Library in Egypt contains priceless artefacts of ancient civilisations and a number of fixed systems protect the ancient manuscript and book storage rooms as well as several elctrical risk areas. Designs met the challenge of large room protection while maintaining the aesthetic qualities of the building. Using space-effective systems, rapid fire protection is provided for irreplaceable collections, limiting collateral fire damage and with no secondary damage resulting from the extinguishing medium.
A fire at Dusseldort Airport in 1996 led to 17 deaths and the loss of some 175 million of equipment. A radical reassessment of fire protection methodology ensued, including that of the control tower where technical failure can cause massive delays and endanger airborne traffic. Gas systems were selected for critical areas within the tower, which is constantly manned. Several structural modifications to the building were made during the installation phase as well as a number of changes to system locations and pipe networks.