While many power companies across the country rely on coal-burning facilities, fires and explosions in coal-handling facilities are of increasing concern. While facility housekeeping by means of controlling dust and preventing spills is very important, a good risk management plan must also include continuous monitoring of toxic and combustible gases. The use of carbon monoxide gas detectors has proved for years to be a very effective early fire detection system. This paper describes a risk-management system that can greatly mitigate the possibility of fire by means of alarming at low levels of CO concentration. The authors present a pro-active approach, focusing not on detecting smoke, which indicates fire, but rather on detecting CO, which indicates the potential for fire. Covered are the benefits of CO monitoring over thermal monitoring and IR scanning, the importance of monitoring for any continual trend upward from background levels, and discussion of how proper alarm setpoints are determined, using case studies.

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