Fire Protected LED at Shopping Center in Frankfurt (Photo: Samsung)
Fire protection for digital signage

30% of all fires are triggered by faulty electronics 

Regulatory approvals for digital signage installations in public spaces are often depending on fire protection concepts. LCD screens and LEDs in particular are considered an inherent risk of fire. Lang AG and its partners developed a solution that ignites enthusiasm with fire protection regulators. An invidis background talk with Tobias Lang.

The facts are clear – 30% of all fires are caused by faulty electronics. Digital signage – whether LCD displays or LEDs – contain many electronic components, plastic and are constantly under power. This makes getting permits for digital signage installations in public spaces – especially at airports and in escape routes – a sensitive issue.

The fire catastrophe at Düsseldorf Airport in 1996 changed the awareness of fire protection in public spaces in the DACH region considerably. 17 passengers died in one of the most serious fires in public spaces since the Second World War. Even though welding work and not faulty electronics triggered the fire, fire protection permits have been a sensitive issue since this event.

Six years ago, Düsseldorf Airport opted for a double-sided LCD video wall in the terminal instead of a preferred LED solution because of the screens lower fire load. Fire protection permits are also a complex and difficult administrative act in shopping centers. Every city sets different standards. Nationwide digital signage and DooH network operators can sing a song about their experiences.

So it was no surprise when the topic of fire protection came back on the agenda at a new Media Frankfurt project last year. The planned standard LED installation in Terminal 1 had failed the fire protection approval. A new approach was necessary: Cologne-based integrator Ben Hur, Lang AG and LED supplier Samsung developed a new solution: an integrated fire extinguishing device for digital signage.

The partners did not have to reinvent the wheel for this: They found what they were looking for at at Job Group, well experienced fire protection experts from Ahrensburg (close to Hamburg). Thermally triggered glass ampoules for automatic sprinklers have become standard in the sprinkler industry for many years. Job Group’s fire extinguishing solution for electronic system relies on a non-toxic, non-conductive extinguishing liquid (3M Novec). The E-Bulb named solution releases the liquid into the device when a defined temperature is reached and instantly suffocates the fire. This causes the electrically conductive thermal ampoule to burst and the liquid contained in the ampoule immediately changes to a gaseous state. A fire on a circuit board is extinguished within seconds by cooling and (partially) by oxygen displacement. And since the E-Bulb interrupts the current flow immediately, the electrical fire cannot reignite.

Job E-Bulb Fire Protection Solution for Digital Signage (Photo: Job Group)
Job E-Bulb Fire Protection Solution for Digital Signage (Photo: Job Group)

Under the technical management of Lang AG, the Job E-Bulb fire protection solution was first integrated with Samsung LED at Frankfurt Airport. The following fire protection tests were passed without any problems. The latest two LED installations from Media Frankfurt ( a JC Decaux subsidiary) are already based on the new solution. Also the MyZeil Shopping Center in downtown Frankfurt has been equipped with this new fire protection-optimized Samsung LED.

For Tobias Lang (CEO of Lang AG), the development is the logical answer to a long-standing problem: „LED has always been regarded as the cause of fire. Now we can relieve airport and shopping center operators of their worries with our integrated fire protection. The concept is based on established technology, we only adapted it for the digital signage world.“

Lang AG considers itself as a link between fire protection industry and manufacturers‘ wishes. At present, this is still a very complex process since the fire protection must be developed individually for each digital signage product and manufacturer.

Job AMFE Fire Protection Solution for Displays and Cabinets (Photo: Job Group)
Job AMFE Fire Protection Solution for Displays and Cabinets (Photo: Job Group)

Lang AG is not only talking to Samsung, but also to most other digital signage providers. In addition to LED Lang AG has also developed a fire protection solution for LCD displays. Job Group supplies a kind of mini fire extinguisher (AMFE – Automatic Miniature Fire Extinguisher) for displays and cabinets similar in functionality to the E-Bulb solution, but with a larger extinguishing volume.

The challenge for Lang is to maintain the warranty with display and LED manufacturer, as modifications to the devices usually invalidate the warranty. Tobias Lang is positive, „Either the manufacturers agree or we offer the warranty ourselves. For the integrators it is important to ensure that the displays and LED modules do not lose their basic performance due to the Value-Add.