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WAGNER Group GmbH – Comprehensive Fire Protection for Britain’s Written Treasures

Nitrogen secures millions of books and magazines inside the British Library
The British Library is home of some of the greatest written treasures in the world: the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook and the Gutenberg Bible. They are not only of significant importance for our history, but they are all stored in the national library of the United Kingdom, one of the largest libraries in the world. It is responsible for the safekeeping of more than 150 million items in about 400 different languages including books, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints, drawings and many more. More than seven million items are stored at the Document Storage Centre in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. To meet the ever-increasing storage requirements, the centre was extended in 2008 with the Additional Storage Program and in 2014 with the Newspaper Storage Building. Due to this fact the British Library trusts WAGNER´s technology to actively protect the millions of copies of newspapers and books from fire and its destructive side effects.

Active fire prevention for 100 km shelving full of books and magazines
Generally, the fire risk inside both storages, ASP and NSB, is normally low. Books and newspapers cannot ignite themselves. Therefore the fire risk is limited to the electrical machinery and equipment inside the storage.

The Additional Storage Program Building (ASP) contains more than 100 km of 25m high shelving where about 140,000 bar-coded plastic containers are stored and is split into two storage areas of 35,000 and 50,000 m3. Since its opening, the Program is protected by WAGNER’s active fire prevention technology OxyReduct®. It reduces the oxygen content inside the automated high-bay storage by continuously introducing nitrogen to both areas. The N2 is generated by a so-called membrane system and distributed through a pipe system. The oxygen concentration is constantly lowered to between 14.8-15 vol% thus creating an extremely fire retardant atmosphere.

British Library and WAGNER, a good liaison
For the new built Newspaper Storage Building British Library chose to deploy the OxyReduct® active fire prevention system. “After having had a good experience with this system, we again chose WAGNER,” Patrick Dixon, Head of Engineering and Construction British Library, said. To ensure for the very best conditions for active fire protection the archive was built according to WAGNER’s recommendations to the air-tightness of the building. This high density solution, normally used in warehouses but rarely in archives, was ideal for a high standard fire protection system demanded by the British Library.

OxyReduct® VPSA: Cost efficient and highly effective
Latest technology in form of VPSA OxyReduct® now protects the Newspaper Storage Building. The required nitrogen for reducing the oxygen level is produced directly on-site from the ambient air by generators with the latest Vacuum Pressure Swing Adsorption (VPSA) technology. This system can generate energy savings of up to 80% compared to conventional membrane systems like in the ASP Building. Therefore OxyReduct® VPSA can be considered as particularly energy-efficient and environmentally friendly as it reduces the running costs for the British Library. Like in the ASP building the oxygen level is constantly being kept between 14.8 and 15 vol% remaining accessible for authorised staff. In such an atmosphere stored combustibles do not inflame and open fire is impossible.

TITANUS PRO·SENS® air sampling smoke detection systems were integrated into the fire protection design of both buildings ASP and NSB. In an event of fire the TITANUS® units recognise quickly and reliably even the smallest pyrolysis particles as it actively takes samples from the ambient air. The risk management system VisuLAN® links both fire protection systems together, thus all relevant information can be monitored at a central location and appropriate actions can be initiated.

Conclusion
The combination of active fire prevention, fire detection and risk management eliminates the risk of fire for both archives as far as possible and provides the most effective protection to the written treasures of the United Kingdom.

For further information, go to www.wagner.de

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