What Is Fire Protection?

Fire protection is the process of keeping people safe by warning people through alarms, allowing them to escape the building through emergency exit systems and sometimes suppressing the fire with clean agents that minimize damage to important assets and equipment. These systems are used in all types of buildings, from warehouses to data centers, and they help protect lives and reduce the impact of a fire on property and operations.

The vast majority of fires are caused by ordinary combustibles, such as paper, wood, cloth, rubber and plastic. These fires typically move through four stages: ignition, growth, full development and burnout. Fire protection systems help mitigate the damage from these stages by cooling or suffocating the fire, robbing it of oxygen or fuel, or chemically disintegrating it.

When designing a building, engineers take fire safety into account and include passive and active fire protection. The active system typically consists of smoke detectors, heat sensors, automatic sprinklers, and fire alarms. Passive fire protection includes smoke curtains and fire-rated walls and doors.

In addition to the smoke and flames, a fire can cause water damage as well. Many buildings are designed with a fire suppression system that uses clean agents to mitigate the damage from water. For example, 3M Novec 1230 is a colorless and non-toxic fluid that works to cool fires by absorbing the heat and using a process known as adsorption. It is often used in data centers and other electronic facilities because it does not cause water damage or leave a residue.

Fire safety plans should be reviewed and updated as needed. They should also be made available to employees for review. Generally, a plan will outline a site’s evacuation routes, locations of fire hydrants and the fire department’s access to the building. It will also include information about the location of manual fire alarm boxes, portable fire extinguishers and areas of refuge.

It is recommended that companies notify local fire departments of any hazardous materials they use or store in their facility so that the fire department can prepare and be ready to respond if a fire does occur.

Smoke is dangerous because it can irritate your respiratory system and block visibility. Fans and automatic doors can work together to redirect or block smoke, allowing evacuees to escape safely.

The best way to prevent injuries and property loss is to have working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that you practice with your family. Keep a fire extinguisher in your home and car and make sure you know how to use it. Stay up to date on wildfire alerts by checking AirNow’s “Fire and Smoke Map” or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio for emergency alerts. You can also protect yourself by wearing a mask when going outdoors and reducing exposure to smoke indoors by resetting your central air conditioning to recirculate mode or closing the outdoor intake damper. If you have a respiratory condition like asthma or COPD, be sure to follow your doctor’s advice for precautions in wildfire areas.

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