Protecting your environment from fire and the resulting damage should be one of your concerns as a home or business owner. Indeed, fires can spread quickly, damaging property, equipment and costing human lives. While you cannot prevent all possible causes of a fire, you can limit the damage to your building in the event of a fire.
Fire protection systems provide business owners with a way to reduce damage to facility, work equipment and essential documents. In addition, by detecting and triggering a rapid response in the event of a fire, these protection systems help protect the occupants of a building and the equipment in it. This therefore helps to reduce costs and reduce the impact of a fire on your business operations.
Fire protection systems
As the name suggests, fire protection systems (FPS) are designed to detect a fire and protect people and machinery inside a building in such cases. Thus, they serve as the first line of intervention in the event of fire risks.
Although fire protection systems are of various types, their primary function is to protect lives and property from damage caused by fire. Additionally, fire protection systems work to give occupants sufficient time to evacuate and allow firefighters to save the building from total damage.
There are two categories of FPS namely passive and active systems. Passive fire protection systems are structural elements of a building designed to limit the spread of a fire. This can include compartmentalized fire doors, walls and cavity barriers. These structures absorb rather than conduct heat and remain tensed at high temperatures, reducing potential damage from the conflagration.
On the other hand, active fire protection systems are designed to fight fires. Examples of active fire protection systems include fire alarms and sprinklers. Fire alarms help notify building occupants of a fire, prompting evacuation and emergency response. Automatic fire extinguishers are triggered by smoke or a predetermined high temperature. When triggered, the system sprays water to suppress and reduce the spread of the fire.
Most residential buildings have sprinkler systems installed, while industrial installations combine active and passive fire protection systems. Due to the popularity of sprinklers, this article will focus on the types and importance of using them and other fire protection mechanisms.
Types of sprinklers
When purchasing or installing sprinklers, consideration should be given to the structure of the building, its residential or commercial status, and potential fire hazard levels. That being said, here are the four main types of sprinklers.
Wet Pipe Sprinklers
These are the most common variations of sprinklers due to their affordability. They work from heat sensors that signal the nearest sprinkler head and release the water stored in the hoses. Sprinkler heads are activated only by heat signals, which means that only those near the fire point are triggered to prevent flooding in the event of false alarms. Underwater sprinklers require little maintenance and are ideal for homes, schools and offices.
Dry sprinklers work the same way as their wet counterpart. The only difference is that the dry pipes are filled with nitrogen and only fill with water during a fire. They are mainly used in arctic climates to prevent water from freezing in pipes. However, dry sprinklers are more expensive to install.
Pre-action sprinkler system
This sprinkler system is more advanced than the previously mentioned variants. It operates on a two-factor system that fills the pipes with water upon sensing a predetermined heat level. The last stage of activation occurs during independent activation of the sprinkler heads. The purpose of this two-band system is to allow manual overrides when the fire alarm is false. This type of sprinkler is commonly used in libraries, data centers and museums where discharged water can cause untold damage.
Unlike the other variants, the deluge sprinkler does not come with a heat sensor; instead, it relies on an external smoke signal to activate. It also has an open sprinkler head, allowing the simultaneous release of water once the hoses are filled with water. This type of sprinkler system is used to fight large fires that can be achieved in factories working with flammable liquids.
Benefits of using fire protection systems
- Fire protection systems help prevent the spread of fire. Thus allowing employees or occupants of a building to evacuate.
- Fire protection systems also protect lives and property and reduce damage to work equipment.
- An effective combination of passive and active fire protection systems greatly reduces the potential damage that your home or business could suffer in the event of a fire.
- Fire protection systems are cost effective and save you money that could have been spent on replacing or upgrading equipment.
When installing fire protection systems, it is advisable to perform a Fire Hazard Analysis (FHA) on your building. This identifies the potential fire hazards applicable to you and your employees and how best to limit them. Other relevant factors include the nature of the building and your favorite FPS add-ons, such as notification of emergency services.