Fire protection is a series of actions that companies take to prevent damage caused by fire. These protective measures include the assessment of a facility and its equipment, implementing fire safety standards, and ensuring that all workers are trained in fire prevention. The goal of fire protection is to keep any disaster from reaching the catastrophic point that could result in death, property loss, and lost business.
In addition to preventing the spread of fire, the best fire protection features also help to reduce smoke and other toxins that can suffocate people or cause other harmful side effects. They can even help to protect delicate electronic equipment from excessive heat damage.
While there is no such thing as a completely fireproof building, engineering designs can incorporate some of the most advanced features to meet fire safety standards. These features work together to compartmentalise a fire into manageable areas that can be safely evacuated and treated by firefighters.
Many of these features focus on the way that a structure is built to prevent fire from spreading to critical areas and potentially damaging its structural integrity. They involve both passive and active fire protection measures, which can be implemented at both the residential and commercial levels.
In residential construction, the most important feature is to provide a barrier between a home and wildland, where possible. This can be done by building with a combination of wood framing, concrete or steel siding, and low-growing, fire-retardant plants. Metal siding is generally preferred, as it provides a much higher level of fire resistance than vinyl or wood.
A more advanced method of fire protection is to use active systems, which are designed to alert occupants of the presence of a fire and then act by emitting a chemical agent that suppresses the flames. This can be a gas like carbon dioxide or inert nitrogen, or a liquid or dry chemical agent.
Passive fire protection involves a combination of materials and design elements, including insulation and ducting, that can limit the flow of air and smoke throughout a structure. Engineers can also design rooms with specific features, such as fire doors and walls, which will help to confine a fire within its designated area and limit the amount of smoke that can escape.
In a business setting, the most common form of fire protection is an extensive network of automatic sprinklers that will be activated when sensors detect a fire and send an alarm signal. They can also be combined with smoke control systems, which will release a gas that will diminish the visibility of smoky conditions. This can allow employees to navigate through the building safely and limit smoke and toxic gases from entering critical areas. A fire safety plan is a document that contains information on the procedures and equipment used for preventing and controlling fires, as well as evacuation instructions in case of an emergency. This is required by many building codes and regulations, including those set by the NFPA.