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Fire Safety is not something you can afford to ignore. It can cause huge damage to life, property and the environment in minutes. Thus, whether you own a residential, commercial, or industrial building, you need to ensure that you have adequate Fire Safety Systems that can prevent, detect, and extinguish fire, as well as limit its spread and impact.
But do you know what is a Fire Safety System, and how can you choose the right Fire Safety for your building? Read this blog further to learn everything about Fire Safety Systems, various types and how to choose the most appropriate system according to your requirements.
Table of Contents
1) Introduction to Fire Safety System
2) Types of Fire Safety Systems
a) Active Fire Safety Systems
b) Passive Fire Safety Systems
3) Fire Safety Systems examples
Introduction to Fire Safety System
The Fire Safety System is an essential part of a building or structure that seeks to safeguard the lives and properties of the people and the environment from the destructive impacts of fire. The Fire Safety System is a set of practices and equipment that aims to prevent, detect, and extinguish fires in buildings or sites.
It is a complicated and advanced network of devices and equipment that cooperate to sense, avoid, manage, and put out fires. It also gives alerts and directions for the secure evacuation of people in case of an emergency.
Types of Fire Safety Systems
Fire Safety Systems are the devices and measures that are installed and implemented in a building to provide fire protection. These Systems can be classified into two main types: Active and Passive. Here's a detailed explanation of both:
Active Fire Safety Systems
Active Fire Safety Systems are the ones that need some action or activation to work against a fire. They have two main functions: fire suppression and fire detection. Fire suppression systems are the ones that try to put out a fire by removing or reducing one or more of the factors that cause a fire: heat, fuel, and oxygen. These are also called the fire triangle.
Fire detection systems are the ones that help to identify and alert about a fire. They have sensors that can detect smoke, heat, or flames, and produce a signal that can be seen or heard by the people in the building or the fire department.Active Fire Safety Systems can be either manual or automatic, depending on whether they need human intervention or not. Manual systems are the ones that need to be operated by someone, such as fire extinguishers or manual call points. Automatic systems are the ones that work by themselves, such as sprinklers or smoke alarms.
Passive Fire Safety Systems
Passive Fire Safety Systems are the ones that do not need any action or activation to work against a fire. They have one main function: fire resistance. Fire resistance systems are the ones that help to prevent the spread of fire and smoke and protect the structure of the building from collapsing.
They are made of materials or barriers that can withstand high temperatures and pressures for a certain period of time.Passive Fire Safety Systems are always in place and do not need any action or activation to operate. They are often integrated into the design and layout of the building and follow the fire codes and standards.
Both Active and Passive Fire Safety Systems are equally important and complementary, as they work together to provide comprehensive fire protection for the building and its occupants.
They both require regular maintenance and inspection to ensure their functionality and compliance with the fire codes and standards. Fire Safety Systems are designed and installed according to the specific needs and risks of each building, taking into account factors such as the size, layout, occupancy, and purpose of the building. Implementing these Systems are essential for saving lives, reducing property damage, and minimising environmental impact in case of a fire emergency.
Fire Safety Systems examples
Fire Safety Systems have various components that work together to achieve Fire Safety objectives. Some of these components are:
Portable fire extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers are essential to help prevent small fires from becoming big disasters. To ensure their effectiveness and reliability, you must install, operate and manage them properly. Here's a step-by-step guide to implement fire extinguisher properly:
1) Installation: Installation of Portable fire extinguishers involves selecting the right type, size, and location of the extinguishers for your home or business. Here are some steps to follow:
a) Identify the class of fire - Identify the class of fire that you are most likely to encounter on your premises.
b) Selecting a fire extinguisher - Pick the right kind of fire extinguisher for each fire class. For example, water Fire Extinguishers can only work for class A fires, while carbon dioxide Fire Extinguishers work for class B and C fires and electrical fires.
c) Consider the size of the fire extinguisher - Pick the right size of extinguisher for each area. The size of the fire extinguisher depends on its nominal charge capacity and fire rating. The nominal charge capacity is how much extinguishing agent the extinguisher has, while the fire rating is how well it can extinguish fire. The higher the fire rating, the better the extinguisher is. The nominal charge capacity and fire rating are found on the extinguisher's label.
d) Determine the place for the extinguisher - Pick the right place for a fire extinguisher in each area. The place of the fire extinguisher should be easy to reach, see and near where the fire might start.
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2) Operation: You need to follow the steps described below to use Portable fire extinguishers correctly and safely in an emergency:
a) Step 1 - Before you attempt to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher, notify others in the area and call your local emergency number.
b) Step 2 - Look at the pressure gauge or indicator of the fire extinguisher to ensure that it is in the working range or position.
c) Step 3 - Pull out the safety pin or seal to activate the lever or trigger of the fire extinguisher.
d) Step 4 - Point the nozzle or hose at the bottom of the fire, not at the flames.
e) Step 5 - Press the lever or trigger to discharge the extinguishing agent.
f) Step 6 - Move the nozzle or hose from side to side until the fire is extinguished or until the extinguisher is empty.
g) Step 7 - Retreat from the fire and keep an eye out for any signs of re-ignition. Use another fire extinguisher if needed or leave the area if the fire is too large or uncontrollable.
3) Maintenance: To ensure that your Portable fire extinguishers work properly and safely, you need to follow:
a) Monthly maintenance: Every month, check if your fire extinguishers are in the right place, easy to see and reach, have enough pressure and content, and are not damaged or broken. Try to write down the dates and names of the person who checked the tag or labels on the extinguisher on paper or electronic files.
b) Yearly maintenance: Every year, consult a skilled technician with the right tools, parts, and manuals to inspect your fire extinguishers. The technician should check each fire extinguisher thoroughly and examine all its mechanical parts, the fire extinguishing agent and the expelling means of the fire extinguisher. Try to always get a written report from the technician that tells you what problems, fixes or changes they found on extinguishers.
c) Periodic maintenance: Test your fire extinguishers periodically according to their type and age by a certified laboratory or facility. Tests should include hydrostatic pressure, leakage, and performance tests. Remember to get a written report on every test.
4) Improvement Improving the fire extinguishers involves upgrading or replacing them to meet the current standards and needs of your premises. Here are some steps to follow to ensure improvement:
a) Upgrade: If your fire extinguishers are old, broken or not working well, you should upgrade them by contacting your fire extinguisher provider or manufacturer and asking for their advice on the best models and features of fire extinguishers that fit your premises.
b) Replacement: If your fire extinguisher is past its expiry date, empty or has been recalled, you should replace them by getting rid of your old fire extinguishers safely and buying new ones from a reliable source. You should also register your new fire extinguishers with the manufacturer or provider to get any updates or alerts on their quality and safety.
Fire alarm system
Fire alarm systems are vital in saving lives and properties from fire danger. They can alert people of fire through various devices and components, such as detectors, sounders, and control panels. However, to install, operate, maintain, and improve fire alarm systems, one must carefully plan, design, and execute them. Here are some tips of guidelines for each aspect of the fire alarm system.
1) Installation: While installing fire alarm systems, you should adhere to applicable codes and standards, such as BS5839. You should also consider specific requirements and features of a building and its occupants, such as the size, layout, occupancy type, fire risk level, and aesthetic preferences. Additionally, ensure that the system is dependable, effective, and compliant with the regulations in the jurisdiction. Some of the factors to consider during installation are:
a) Identifying fire alarm system: During installation, identifying a fire alarm system involves recognising its components. For example: detecting smoke detectors, heat sensors, control panels, and wiring arrangements. Visualising their strategic placement and connections underscores the system's readiness to safeguard lives and property.
b) Compatibility: Ensuring everything works well together is important when installing a fire alarm system. Parts like smoke detectors and control panels need to fit and communicate properly. If they don't, the system might not detect fires correctly. So, careful planning is needed to ensure everything works smoothly to keep people safe.
c) Integration: Integrate fire alarm systems with other systems or equipment in the building, such as sprinkler systems, elevator systems, smoke control systems, emergency lighting systems, security systems, etc. Ensure that the fire alarm system can monitor, control, or communicate with these systems or equipment in case of a fire emergency.
2) Operation: Fire Safety alarms operate by detecting signs of fire and warning people about it. When smoke or heat is detected, sensors in the alarm system make a loud noise and sometimes flashlights.
This alerts everyone in the area to evacuate and call for help. Fire Safety alarms work fast to give people time to escape danger and for Firefighters to arrive. Some of the things to consider when ensuring operation are:
a) Check fire alarm system: Check the state of the alarm, devices, and all its parts. The system should check and show the situation and state of all devices and components on the control panel or other indicating devices. The system should also tell the operator or the service provider of any problems or errors in the system.
b) Testing: The system should allow manual testing and activation of devices and components to verify their functionality and performance. The system should also allow automated testing and activation of devices and components at regular intervals.
c) Response: Fire Safety alarms work by sensing smoke or heat caused by a fire. Once detected, they sound a loud alarm and often flashlights to get people's attention. This warns everyone nearby to leave the area and call for help.
d) Reporting: The system should communicate and report fire alarm signals to occupants and the emergency responders through various means such as audio and visual signals, telephone calls, emails, etc.
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3) Maintenance: Fire alarm systems need regular maintenance to keep them working and to adapt them to changing situations or needs. Some of the aspects of maintenance are:
a) Inspection: The system should be inspected and serviced by qualified personnel at regular intervals. The inspection and servicing should include checking for physical damage and cleaning, testing, adjusting, repairing, replacing, calibrating, etc.
b) Checking battery and other consumables: The system should have sufficient power supply to operate normally or in case of a power outage. The batteries or other consumables that provide power to the system or its devices or components should be replaced periodically.
4) Improvement: Improvement in fire alarm systems should always aim to achieve higher protection for lives and properties from fire hazards. It should try to achieve higher levels of satisfaction for users. Some of the factors to consider for improvement are:
a) Collective assessment: The system should gather and store performance data, such as alarm frequency, false alarm rate, response time, signal quality, etc. The system should also solicit and examine feedback from users or customers, such as satisfaction levels, complaints, etc. The data and feedback should be utilised to detect problems, issues, or areas for improvement.
b) Execution: The system should carry out improvement actions based on the data and feedback collection and assessment. The improvement actions should be tested for their effectiveness and efficiency. The improvement actions should also be recorded and communicated to the stakeholders.
c) Improvement cycle: The system should adhere to a continual improvement cycle involving planning, checking, and acting. The cycle should be repeated regularly or as required to ensure that the system always improves and meets the users' or customers' expectations and needs.
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Fire sprinklers are dives that automatically spray water on fire when activated by heat or smoke. They can save lives and property by controlling or extinguishing fires before they spread. We will discuss the installation, operation, maintenance, and improvement of the fire sprinkler system.
1) Installation: Fire sprinkler systems are installed by professionals who adhere to the design and installation standards of BS5839. The installation process involves:
a) Evaluating: Evaluating the type and layout of the sprinkler system based on occupancy and building characteristics.
b) Choosing the right equipment: Choosing suitable sprinkler heads, pipes, valves, pumps, tanks, and other components that meet the performance and reliability requirements. Consider the following factors:
i) Installing the water supply system that provides adequate water pressure and flow rate to the sprinkler system.
ii) Installing the sprinkler system piping network that delivers water to the sprinkler heads in a balanced and efficient manner.
iii) Installing the sprinkler heads at specified locations and heights to provide optimal coverage and distribution of water over the protected area.
iv) Installing alarm devices, such as flow switches, bells, and horns, alert occupants and Firefighters of sprinkler activation.
c) Testing: Testing and commissioning the sprinkler system to ensure it operates as intended and complies with the codes and standards.
2) Operation: One or more sprinkler heads detect a fire and activate fire sprinkler systems automatically. Each sprinkler head has a heat-sensitive element, such as a glass bulb or fusible link, that breaks or melts when exposed to a certain temperature. This opens a valve that releases water through the sprinkler head and sprays over the fire. The water reduces and extinguishes the fire, preventing it from spreading to other areas. The water also triggers an alarm device that alerts the occupants and Firefighters.
Fire sprinkler systems are designed to operate individually or in groups, depending on the size and location of the fire. Only the sprinkler heads closest to the fires will activate, minimising water damage and disruption to unaffected areas. Fires sprinkler systems can be categorised into different types based on their operation mode:
Fire sprinkler system type
Wet pipe system
Pipes are filled with water ready to spray when heat is detected.
Dry pipe system
Pipes are filled with pressurized air; water only enters when a fire triggers the system.
All nozzles are open, and water is released together when a fire alarm activates.
Uses detectors and alarms to electronically sense and warn about fires.
3) Maintenance: Fire sprinkler systems need regular inspection, testing, and maintenance to ensure they work properly and reliably. Qualified personnel must perform these activities according to the standard. Some examples of activities are:
a) Weekly: Checking control valves, checking gauges of dry/deluges systems
b) Monthly: Checking gauges of the wet pipe system, checking alarm valves
c) Quarterly: Testing alarm devices, testing water flow switches
d) Semiannually: Testing pressure-type waterflow devices
e) Annually: Checking sprinkler heads, testing main drain valves
f) Every three years: Testing dry pipe valves
g) Every five years: Testing gauges, inspecting pipes internally
Besides these routine activities, fire sprinkler systems should also be inspected and tested after any change, impairment, or fire incident that may affect their performance.
4) Improvement: Fire sprinkler systems, which have a history of over two centuries, have undergone significant improvements. Some examples of improvement are:
a) Development: Developing more reliable and responsive sprinkler heads with different spray patterns, temperatures, finishes and orientation. It also involves the development of more sophisticated and precise hydraulic calculation methods and software.
b) Usage: The use of more effective and efficient piping materials, fittings, hangers, and supports
c) Innovation: The innovation of more integrated and inventive alarm devices and fire detection systems.
d) Adoption: The adoption of more eco-friendly and sustainable water resources and additives.
Fire sprinkler systems are continually adapting to evolving needs and challenges of fire protection. Research and development activities are in progress to improve fire sprinkler systems' design, installation, operation, and maintenance.
A Fire Safety System is not only a matter of technology but also of education, awareness, and responsibility. Everyone should know the basic principles of the safety system, such as how to prevent fires, use Fire Safety equipment, and evacuate safely. Everyone should also follow the safety policies and regulations that apply to their building or site and cooperate with the fire authorities and professionals. A Fire Safety System should be frequently checked and maintained to guarantee its correct working and dependability.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The first rule of Fire Safety is to observe and think. This means being aware of the potential fire hazards in your surroundings and using your common sense and judgment to avoid them or deal with them safely.
The four steps of Fire Safety are identifying, assessing, controlling, and monitoring. These steps involve finding the fire hazards in your workplace or home, evaluating the risks they pose, putting measures in place to reduce or eliminate them, and checking that the measures are working effectively.
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