Over 2.4 billion dollars — that's how much the damage caused by fires costs to business owners every year in the United States. Most of this damage could have been avoided if a fire protection system in the building was properly chosen and installed.
The Importance of Fire Protection
It's difficult to overemphasize the importance of fire protection, and everybody seems to be aware, but still, thousands of fires happen every month. Just take a look at the numbers:
Each year around 100,000 commercial and business space fire incidents are recorded.
67% of the property damage happens due to office fires between 7 pm to 7 am.
29% of commercial fire breaks are caused by cooking equipment. Other popular reasons include electrical equipment (12%), intentional fires (10%), and smoking (9%).
Most deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than the fire itself.
The necessity to install and maintain fire protection is more obvious when we speak about manufacturing facilities — moreover, it's often impossible to set up a business without an advanced fire system. But the question is often undervalued by offices and businesses which prefer to get by a basic system installed in a property.
Defining a Fire Protection System
A fire protection system is a set of technical means intended to detect fire, report the place of its occurrence, fight the fire and prevent it from spreading.
There are two major types of fire protection systems:
Passive Fire Protection (PFP): 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 (AFP): A system that takes measures to put out the fire manually (think a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket) or automatically (such as when water sprinklers or a foam suppression system is triggered).
Key Components of an Automatic Active Fire Protection System
There's a great variety of AFPs, but each system should include the following basic components:
Alarm initiating devices such as smoke or heat detectors that catch the first signs of fire and activate the system.
Fire notification devices such as bells or horns that inform people inside the building about the danger.
Automatic fire suppression devices that put out the fire with water or chemicals. Some popular examples are fire sprinklers, gaseous fire suppressors and condensed aerosol fire suppressors.
Fire extinguishers, hand-held devices with cylindrical pressure vessels filled in with an agent such as water, foam, dry powder, etc. They are useful for small and emergency fire situations and are necessary to be present on every floor, easily accessible.
Control panel that lets you manage the system, turn it on and off.
Backup power supply that keeps the fire system operational even in case of a power failure.
All these components make up a fire protection system in a building. There may also be additional devices, such as fire curtains or a fire-rated door that improve safety and localize fire, or others like remote control or exit lighting that improve the system's convenience.
Smoke Protection System
It's also important to consider a high-quality smoke control system, such as smoke curtains for premises and elevators, because even if the fire is localized, smoke is still a great threat to people's lives.
A smoke protection system will protect escape routes, allow people to safely leave the building, and help firefighters to enter and contain the fire. It also protects property and equipment from damage and reduces the risk of explosion or ceiling collapse. This may be especially true in historic buildings.
It's crucial to protect a building from fire, but it's also necessary to help people leave the premises quickly and safely if an accident happens.
An evacuation system itself includes voice speakers, light panels, and other signaling devices that help people find the way in case of fire and smoke. But it's highly recommended to complement the evacuation system with smoke protection to make sure people are able to leave the building safely.
Combining passive and active fire protection with evacuation and smoke protection systems, you'll ensure the highest safety standards in your building.
Choosing a Fire Protection System
It's good to have basic sprinkler-based fire protection installed, but depending on the type of your business and the building itself, recommended (or required, depending on code) additional components may vary. For example, there are specific recommendations for tight spaces, atriums, open spaces, high-rise buildings and other types of premises.
At SG Architectural Specialties, our team of experts specializes in high-quality fire and smoke protection systems, their installation and maintenance. And we're always happy to help you with a professional consultation about how to increase fire safety in your building and which system will be your best choice.
A fire protection system in a building is an extremely important part of its infrastructure to save people, assets and valuables in case of emergency. There are both active and passive systems that are better to combine for the highest level of fire safety. And also, it's important to consider smoke protection, because smoke is the number one threat to people's lives.
Check out our full line of smoke and fire protection products. Or contact us with any questions about picking the best fire and smoke protection systems for your building.