Comprehensive fire protection for Great Britain’s written treasures

The Additional Storage Program is situated in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. (PresseBox) (Langenhagen, ) 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. 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 (ASP) and in 2014 with the Newspaper Storage Building (NSB). To ensure for the very best protection 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.

Both archives ASP and NSB are built like high bay warehouses and are almost completely automated. Due to this conditions the British Library decided for the active fire prevention system from WAGNER. It reduces the oxygen content inside the automated storage by continuously introducing nitrogen to the protected areas. The oxygen concentration is constantly lowered to between 14.8-15 vol% thus creating an extremely fire retardant atmosphere while still remaining accessible for authorised staff.

In the ASP the nitrogen is generated by a membrane system directly from the ambient air. In order to optimize the operating costs the British Library chose for the new NSB to deploy the latest technology in form of VPSA OxyReduct®. The required nitrogen for reducing the oxygen level is produced directly on-site from the ambient air by generators with the Vacuum Pressure Swing Adsorption technology. This system can generate energy savings of up to 80% compared to conventional membrane systems.

In addition WAGNERS TITANUS PRO·SENS® air sampling smoke detection system were integrated into the fire protection design of both buildings. 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® from WAGNER links both fire protection systems together, thus all relevant information can be monitored at a central location and appropriate actions can be initiated.

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.


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Christin Passchier
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