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Key Components of Commercial Fire Protection Systems

Feb 01, 2023
Key Components of Commercial Fire Protection Systems

Fire is always a potential hazard for every type of business. Nonetheless, there is a possibility to reduce the chance of injury, death, and property damage by implementing a worthy fire detection system. This term, when used in industry, applies to both life safety systems and fire protection systems, although there are some crucial differences.


A Life Safety System:

  • primarily provides early warning of a fire event and prevents the loss of life;
  • intends to ensure business continuity or protect property;
  • notifies occupants of when to evacuate premises and notifies the fire department, for the most part, in commercial systems;
  • facilitates egress from a building;

An example of life safety systems within homes is smoke detectors. They alert occupants in case of fire and urge them to evacuate and call the fire department. A business fire alarm system with smoke and heat detectors, manual pull stations, illuminated exit signs and emergency lights and other devices are the components of the commercial life safety system.


A Fire Protection System:

  • secures the property and its occupants from the damaging effects of fire;
  • ensures business continuity;

These systems exist as passive or active, which are differentiated below.

Passive systems do not actually stand out as systems. They are elements and constructions that are designed to resist the passage of fire and smoke.

Active systems protect against fire by suppressing, extinguishing, or controlling a fire. There are quite a few systems, such as automatic fire sprinkler systems, condensed aerosol systems, dry chemical systems and clean agent systems.

Further in this article, we will examine the main components of fire safety systems with suppression, containment, and alerting features. They are fire alarms, heat and smoke detectors, emergency lighting, exit signs, fire doors, fire suppression agents and systems, including water sprinklers.


Fire Alarms

When properly designed, maintained and operated, fire detection systems can reduce property and human life losses associated with fire in all kinds of buildings. The primary motivation for the fire codes and requirements in the commercial premises is to offer early notification to occupants and employees so they can exit safely and to the fire service so it can respond to the emergency. In such settings as hospitals, the alarm system alerts staff so they can respond to fire and take measures.

Most modern commercial buildings benefit from the latest comprehensive fire safety systems integrated with several other property systems to optimize occupant safety.

Modern fire protection solutions can:

  • Detect heat and smoke ;
  • Send notifications;
  • Alert the fire department;
  • Pinpoint the location of a problem;
  • Shut fire/smoke dampers and close fire doors;
  • Turn off the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems;
  • Unlock doors;
  • Stop video or audio systems;
  • Turn on emergency lighting;
  • Be activated manually from a manual pull station;


Fire Detection Devices

One way to initiate an alarm is by activating an old-fashioned pull station. However, it is not always easy for people to detect a fire timely without using special devices that respond to conditions caused by fire. Thus, a different way to initiate an alarm is to use a tool that react to one or several of the most common byproducts of fire: smoke, heat, gas or flames.

We will now look briefly at heat detectors, smoke detectors, flame detectors, gas sensors, manual fire alarm boxes, automatic suppression systems, and indicating appliances.


Smoke Detectors

While there are undoubtful benefits of smoke alarms, they are not usable in all types of environments. Therefore, their effectiveness ranges depending on the occupant capabilities and fire scenario. The basic operating mechanisms currently utilized in these smoke detection solutions are ionization and photoelectric.


Heat Detectors

Heat detectors detect fires. They are less prone to false alarms and less expensive in comparison to smoke alarms. However, in many instances, their response might not be adequate. This drawback limits their usefulness. Heat detection solutions are slower to identify fires as they are not sensitive to smoke. Therefore, these solutions are best-fitted for spotting fast-paced fires in small spaces.


Flame Detectors

One more method of fire detection is using devices that respond to the light waves emitted by fires, namely ultraviolet (UV) or infrared (IR) waves. These solutions operate incredibly quickly and are very useful in high hazard areas such as fuel-loading areas, industrial process facilities, and areas where explosions could occur.


Manual Pull Stations

The pull stations are fairly commonplace initiating devices, which operate manually. It means they require a person to pull down the handle. These devices are placed near exits, throughout building hallways, and in other strategic areas such as a security centre or nurse's station.


Fire Doors

Fire dampers and doors protect occupants by separating and isolating heat and smoke, helping to keep a fire from expanding quickly throughout a building. Fire doors often feature a self-closing latch. So, these doors can close automatically if the system detects fire or smoke or if the alarm emits a sound.


Emergency Lights and Exit Signs

Illuminated exit signs and emergency lighting for egress are fire safety systems that serve to provide safe evacuation during reduced visibility due to smoky fire conditions or power failure.

Additionally, visitors tend to exit buildings the same way they came in. That is why exit signs are essential if you need to find an alternate route. Together with emergency lights, they allow following the shortest egress path.


Basic Fire Suppression Agents and Systems

Fire suppression includes two crucial variables: the extinguishing agent and the procedure or system for applying the agent. The primary methods of fire suppression involve agents capable of suppressing one or several of the three components that must be present for combustion to occur.

These components are fuel, heat, and oxygen. When removed or sufficiently reduced, ignition ceases. In addition, another way to put out a fire is by interfering with the chemical reactions (the uninhibited chain reactions) that occur during the combustion. So, the primary agents used in fire extinguishment are water, carbon dioxide, halon and dry chemicals.

Water is the most common fire extinguishing agent used because it can extinguish a fire by cooling the fuel as well as by dilution, smothering, and emulsification. Moreover, this agent is relatively cheap and readily available in most areas. Although, there are some limitations: it conducts electricity, freezes, and can damage property.


Sprinkler System

An automatic suppression system is not usually a requirement, but, in general a sprinkler system is expected to exist unless the location is not compatible with water. It consists of sprinklers that automatically operate and distribute water upon fire to contain and possibly extinguish it.


The necessity to install and properly maintain a fire protection system seems obvious when speaking about manufacturing facilities. Besides, it is impossible to start such a business without an appropriate fire detection system. Nonetheless, this question is regularly undervalued by small businesses and offices which prefer to survive with a basic solution.

When choosing a decent commercial fire system, one should estimate the potential hazards, the environment and conditions in order to select suitable components and install them in an appropriate manner. If you need help with your fire detection and emergency lighting needs, do not hesitate to get in touch with Power Right professionals.

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