This year’s joint conference in College Park, Maryland with AUBE’17 and SUPDET 2017 provided an opportunity for those of us in the United States to learn about some of the latest research abroad in Europe, Asia and South America.
On the second day of the conference, there was a session dedicated to oxygen reduction and special suppression systems. As a librarian and archivist, I have a special interest in fire protection systems that are used to protect objects of special cultural and historic value. So when provided with an opportunity to sit in on Markus Mueller of Wagner Schweis AG’s presentation on “Active Fire Prevention by Oxygen Reduction Systems”, I jumped at the chance.
The oxygen reduction systems used and discussed by Mueller increased the amount of nitrogen (up to 78%) in the atmosphere. These conditions have been shown to be safe for environments like warehouses, archives, museum storage, and other sensitive containment areas where people do not spend a majority of time.
It is important to note that what is best to objects is not necessarily best for people though. Life safety should always be the priority. It was noted by both Mueller and his colleague, Frank Siedler, that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers any atmosphere with an oxygen level below 19.5% to be oxygen-deficient and dangerous to life or health. With this in mind, I think that this continues to be a fascinating area of research and look forward to learning more.