Author: Mark Allen, CEO of CPS Electric
Every year, over 2.4 billion dollars in damage is caused to businesses due to fire. Most damage can be avoided with the proper fire protection systems. Proper protection begins as a plan to adequately assess the needs, with an installation team qualified to do the job correctly.
Planning a Fire Protection System The necessity to install and maintain fire protection is more prevalent when designing manufacturing facilities – as it will be required by local building codes, and the systems will need to be advanced. Often, fire protection is woefully undervalued by offices and businesses which prefer the economical approach with a basic system installation.
There are two major types of fire protection systems:
Passive Fire Protection (PFP) This is a system that is installed into a building or provided by design to prevent a fire breakout. Some examples of PFPs are fire-resistant walls, fireproofing cladding, and non-combustible cable coating.
Active Fire Protection (APF) This is a system that takes measures to put out the fire manually (such as a fire extinguisher) or automatically (such as when water sprinklers or a foam suppression system) is triggered. The best systems combine the benefits of both PFP and AFP. While a PFP approach will improve safety and prevent fires, it’s good to have an AFP in place should fire happen.
Active Fire Protection Components – What Should Be Included and How Does It Work?
Every Active Fire Protection approach starts with an Alarm Initiating Device such as a smoke or heat detector. It will catch the first sign of fire and activate the system. Once the system is activated, other key components of the system can take over:
Fire notification devices This includes tones, bells or horns to alert people in the building to take action and evacuate.
Automatic fire suppression devices This system is the first measure of offense on a fire with water or chemicals. Some examples include water sprinklers, gaseous fire suppressors and condensed aerosol fire suppressors.
Fire extinguishers These hand-held devices with cylindrical pressure vessels filled with an agent such as water, foam or dry powder are operated by a user and are helpful for small emergencies and fire situations that can be mitigated by people close to the fire. Planning the location for such extinguishers is integral to a well-planned facility. The extinguishers should be conveniently located on every floor and easy to access.
Control panel This allows you to manage the overall system and turn it on and off.
Back-up power supply This keeps the fire system operational in the event of a power failure. This is useful as a redundancy for fire protection as well as computer equipment in the absence of fire.
Fire curtains/Fire-rated door These options improve safety and help localize and contain fire danger and damage.
Smoke control systems This includes smoke curtains for premises and elevators. Even if a fire is localized, the smoke is a great threat to life.
Evacuation System & Process In addition to protecting the building from fire damage, it is critical to have a process to evacuate people in the building safely. A system for evacuation could include voice speakers, light panels and other signaling devices that help guide exiting the building in case of fire and smoke.
Selecting a Fire Protection System Selecting a fire protection system in a building is an important part of its plan to save people, assets, and safeguard business continuity. With a combination of both passive and active systems, the dangers of fire can be prevented, and damage mitigated if fire happens.