Fire Protection 101

Fire protection encompasses a variety of systems and measures designed to prevent fires, detect them as soon as possible, and stop their spread. It also involves emergency evacuation plans and compliance with a wide range of NFPA codes.

Passive fire protection includes things like fire doors and cavity barriers, as well as smoke curtains that help to keep smoke, flames, toxic gases, and other contaminants contained in a single area. This can help to make it easier for people to evacuate a building, as it can limit their exposure and may reduce the damage that the fire causes.

Active fire protection includes systems that either automatically or manually take action to extinguish a fire, such as sprinklers and fire alarms. The former involves sensors that activate an alarm to notify occupants of the danger and the location of the fire, while the latter consists of devices such as water sprinklers or foam suppression systems that will extinguish the fire and/or minimize its spread.

Prevention is the most effective fire protection. In homes, this means teaching children to never play with matches or lighters, to have an adult present when using an iron or hairdryer, and to be careful around fireplaces and wood stoves (having them inspected and cleaned regularly). In businesses, this means creating a safe working environment by following safety procedures for things such as operating machinery or maintaining records, as well as training staff on fire protection concepts that are relevant to their jobs.

A fire safety survey is an objective review of a building or facility and the implementation of all components involved in its fire protection system. It should include a physical inspection, evaluation of service records, an audit of fire suppression systems or devices (e.g. fire extinguishers), and a review of evacuation and emergency preparedness plans. This should be performed by a professional, nonproduct-affiliated fire protection consultant.

Fire suppression systems work to protect valuable products and expensive equipment from being damaged by fire or destroyed altogether. They typically consist of a detection system that is connected to a nozzle, which when activated emits a highly concentrated substance that quickly extinguishes the fire. Common examples include carbon dioxide, inert gas, and pressured dry chemicals.

In addition to fire safety systems, it is important to practice escape routes and conduct regular drills with your family. If you live in an apartment or a high rise building, it is important to know the fire escape route and be aware of potential hazards such as blocked exits or dangling wires. It is also a good idea to remove combustible materials from outside of your home, shed, and garage and maintain a ‘defensible space’ clear of flammable items for at least 5 feet around structures to help prevent wildfires. Be sure to check news alerts in your area if a wildfire is predicted and stay up-to-date on recommended evacuation plans. It is also a good idea to have a fire protection plan for your business that includes a disaster recovery program and a business continuity strategy.

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