Beyond Sprinklers: What’s Needed to Create a Comprehensive Fire Protection System?
Whether you’re in charge of a commercial building or a residential structure, one of the smartest things you can do is develop a comprehensive fire protection system. Many believe that the best way to achieve this is to focus on minimising risk through the use of equipment such as sprinklers. However, while sprinkler systems are important, they’re just one part of the equation. It’s critical to consider all three elements of effective fire protection: identification, reduction, and elimination.
The 3 elements of fire protection
To protect your tenants or employees in the best possible way, your fire protection system should address three distinct areas. Firstly, the rapid identification of a fire. Secondly, the reduction of fire spread around the building. And finally, the safe and efficient elimination of the fire. Each of these areas will require different equipment that can help you manage emergencies with confidence.
By law, every commercial and residential property must have an ‘appropriate fire detection system’ in place. And the easiest way to achieve this is with smoke alarms. There should be at least one smoke alarm installed per storey, and where possible these alarms should be mains-powered. That’s because battery-powered smoke alarms have a higher failure rate – 39% – than mains alternatives.
However, fire detection systems alone are not enough to build your comprehensive fire protection strategy. It’s also crucial to maintain and test them, too. Research shows that missing batteries account for 8% of all smoke alarm failures; defective batteries are responsible for 10%.
If a fire occurs, the most important aspect is to ensure that all people are able to safely evacuate the building. And the best way to do that is by ensuring you have the means to reduce and slow the spread of the fire. This gives tenants and employees more time to get themselves to safety. Sprinkler systems are a highly effective way to reduce spread, but there are other methods to consider, too.
One such method is fire doors. These are specially manufactured doors that act as a barrier to prevent the spread of fire. In residential buildings above two storeys, and in commercial buildings, it is often a legal requirement in the UK to fit fire doors at stairwells to keep evacuation routes clear.
Fire blankets can be useful for extinguishing small fires, while fire extinguishers are legally required in commercial buildings and multi-family residences. The minimum requirement is one Class A extinguisher on each floor, or two per floor in larger premises. Trained appointed fire marshals may use extinguishers to fight fires, while anyone can use an extinguisher to clear essential exit routes.
In addition to extinguishers, some high-rise buildings require dry & wet risers. Dry risers are a legal requirement in buildings more than 18m tall, while wet risers are a legal requirement in buildings over 50m. These systems help the fire department access water for extinguishing flames.
Developing your fire protection system
As it’s clear to see, there’s a lot that goes into developing a truly comprehensive fire protection system. For support in installing the right equipment for your building, contact us at Eversafe.