Fire Detection in a clean environment

24th July 2020

World renowned medical supplies manufacturer upgrades fire detection at Queensland facility with new VESDA-E VEU very early warning system


Cook Australia is part of an American privately held company founded in 1963 and is ranked as one of America’s largest private companies. With many facilities located throughout the world ‘Cook Medical Brisbane’ is involved in the manufacturing of medical devices at their facility at Technology Park, Eight Mile Plains. Cook Medical now employs about 600 people in Australia.

Cook Medical was approached by Xtralis and asked to become involved in a trial program involving a new advanced VESDA-E product, VEU. Cook management recognised the advantages of the VEU and after some initial discussions agreed to be involved with this new product and the beta trial. The trial application presented itself in the form of the main warehouse where Cook manufactures high value medical devices, packages these and distributes to end-users. The warehouse is a highly managed and strictly controlled operation where the environment is extremely clean and dust particulates within the warehouse are regularly monitored. However the risk of fire in a facility of this nature is always present.

The trial was undertaken to compare VEU performance to two existing FastSense Plus systems already installed at the Eight Mile Plains warehouse. Meetings were held with the Cook Medical and the Cook fire services maintenance contractor (Creative Fire - Brisbane) to discuss the trial objectives. Upon final agreement with all parties the installation commenced. 


The warehouse is approximately 2470 m2 (65 m x 38 m) with a ceiling height of 8.5 m (max point). One VESDA VLX-100 protects the sterilization area of approximately 495 m2 with the balance of the warehouse covered by two FastSense Plus HSSD2 detectors. Both detectors are mounted on the mezzanine level about 2 m from the ceiling and comprise identical sampling pipe layouts providing area coverage of approximately 1975 m2. Detectors, pipe layouts and smoke transport time requirements are in accordance with AS1670.1-2004.


The purpose of the trial was to demonstrate that both existing FastSense detectors can be substituted for one VEU ultra high sensitivity detector, which, although mounted at ground level (as opposed to the FastSense Plus on the mezzanine level) could provide improved detection coverage and performance (i.e. sensitivity, smoke transport time, system balance).

Maintenance was also a consideration for the trial and the VEU was located away from the direct staff working areas in a location that would provide ease of access for the fire maintenance technicians, yet not interrupt warehouse operations.


Despite the ultra high sensitivity capability of the VEU the sensitivity thresholds of the VEU were initially set much the same as the factory default settings. This was done primarily to monitor stability and gain some performance data to compare between the existing two FastSense Plus detectors and the VESDA-E VEU. The FastSense Plus detectors were not altered and the settings of both were those as set at the time of the original commissioning.

Final commissioning, including smoke testing of the system was completed with the fire contractor.

After the first two months of the trial, data was obtained from the VEU for evaluation. The data showed that the detector remained very stable over the period with no issues. It was also noted that background obscuration level in the warehouse (monitored by the VEU) was surprisingly low, well below that of the default VEU alarm sensitivity settings.

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