Welcome to WAGNER

The default language for your present location is .
Do you want to change the language?

Continue with

Case Study: British Library

Comprehensive Fire Protection for 400 Years Old Documents

Active fire prevention from WAGNER has been protecting the Newspaper Storage Building of the British Library in London since 2014 after the Additional Storage Program was equipped with a fire protection solution from the expert six years earlier. In 2018, the oxygen reduction system in the Additional Storage Program building was retrofitted.

Whether it's the Magna Carta, da Vinci's notebooks, or the Gutenberg Bible, most of the works stored in the British Library are unique and hundreds of years old. Their destruction would leave a cultural gap that could not be filled. After the British Library had already had good experience with a fire protection solution based on active fire prevention with the oxygen reduction system OxyReduct® in the Additional Storage Program, the operators decided to use this solution again for the Newspaper Storage Building in 2014.

In order to be able to meet the constantly increasing space requirements, the magazine of the Document Storage Centre of the British Library was expanded again in 2014 (following the addition of the Additional Storage Program, which opened in 2008): the Newspaper Storage Building. Here, too, the operator relied on WAGNER's holistic fire protection solution. The Newspaper Storage Building with its floor space of 2,200 m² and a volume of 45,000 m³ was designed in consultation with WAGNER to create optimal conditions for the active fire protection. In addition to the fire protection solution, the impermeability and the climate control system for the protection of the works were also coordinated.

The oxygen reduction system with membrane technology installed in 2008 was replaced by a new OxyReduct® P-Line in 2018. The cost of maintenance, operating costs and general overhaul of the older membrane system would have been higher than allowed by UK regulations for public buildings. As a result, the operator optimized operating costs in fire protection for the Additional Storage Program building.

Built in London on July 1, 1973, the British Library safely stores more than 150 million works in over 400 different languages, as well as maps, manuscripts, newspapers, magazines, art prints, drawings, scores and patents. Examples include da Vinci's notebooks, manuscripts of the Beatles, and the recording of Mandela's speech on the Rivonia trial.

Active Fire Protection, the Second

Risk Analysis

  • High fire load
    The collection is mostly made of paper and would burn rapidly.
  • Chimney effect
    The magazine's high shelves with narrow gaps provide ideal conditions for rapid fire spread.
  • Soot and smoke
    In addition, even small amounts of soot and smoke and low heat can damage or even destroy the documents.
  • Extinguishing agent
    Extinguishing cannot be accomplished by extinguishing water due to the materials and irretrievable exhibits at the British Library.

Protection Goals

Active Fire Prevention Safeguards Historical Works

The solution for the fire protection requirements of the British Library is an OxyReduct® oxygen reduction system for active fire prevention. OxyReduct® V-Line systems were installed in the Newspaper Storage Building magazine. They reduce the oxygen content by introducing nitrogen into the protective area in a controlled manner. The inert gas is extracted from the ambient air using Vacuum Pressure Swing Adsorption (VPSA) technology. In this way, the oxygen content in the protected area is reduced to a defined protection level. A possible fire is deprived of the necessary oxygen at a very early stage. This prevents it from developing or spreading further.

For a comprehensive protection solution at the British Library, the OxyReduct® oxygen reduction system was combined with early fire detection using TITANUS PRO·SENS® air sampling smoke detectors. The suction points are suspended above the stacks, where they permanently take samples of the ambient air. Deception alarm-proof and highly sensitive, they detect the finest smoke particles and thus enable countermeasures to be initiated in good time.

In the VisuLAN® organisation / hazard management system, the information from the fire protection systems come together in order to take targeted measures in the event of an emergency.

Customer Benefits

  • Safe
    VdS-approved and certified fire protection solution; reliable protection of historical works; earliest possible fire detection.
  • Flexible
    Flexible planning scope: fire protection solution can be flexibly adapted to new conditions in the event of expansion.
  • User-friendly
    Permanent accessibility of the protected area by authorized personnel.
  • Economical
    Low operating costs - high energy efficiency in operation.

Customer testimonial

Patrick, Dixon, Head of Construction and Engineering, British Library

OxyReduct® with VPSA-technology not only provides effective protection but also on the basis of lowest capital costs.

Download report


Whether valuable art objects, rare archaeological finds or unique writings – all require appropriate fire protection to preserve them for the future. WAGNER offers fire protection solutions that actively prevent fires and fire extinguishing with gentle inert gases.

Request now