Fire Detection & Suppression Systems

Every year, fire affects thousands of companies resulting from injury, lost consumer trust, and damaged property. Establishing a fire prevention and suppression system within a building helps avoid injuries to employees or visitors who may be within the proximity of the fire outbreak. In particular, fire prevention involves a variety of procedures such as educating people on fire safety measures, building engineering, and firefighting procedures. It may also include modification of behavior among high-risk audiences to ensure fire prevention measures are observed. On the other hand, fire protection and suppression systems are procedures used to mitigate fire from spreading in case of an outbreak in a building or inside a vehicle. Designed to use a combination of wet and dry chemical agents, the suppression systems are used to ensure safety of the building occupants, firefighters, and building properties (Giesler, 2016). Ideally, fire protection and suppression systems come in different types including automated and manual. In this study, we identify five fire protection and suppression systems including fire pumps, smoke management system, standpipe and hose systems, fire detection, and alarm systems, water supply systems. The study will also give a detailed analysis describing the fire protection systems comprehensively to include things like the location of the gadget, the area of coverage, and confirmation on the type among others. Finally, the study will assess the benefits of the fire protection system including how it benefits the occupant and enhances the safety of the firefighter.

Fire Pump

During fire fighting operations, a fire pump is used by firefighters to boost water supply from a reservoir. As Sturzenbecker, Adams, &Burnside, (2011) notes, the major function of a fire pump is to supplement the pressure of water that is being supplied to it. Usually, there are three types of fire pumps, which include the centrifugal, the vertical-shaft, or positive displacement pump. Usually, centrifugal pumps and the vertical turbine pump are often fitted with an impeller, which is used to increase the pressure of water. The positive displacement pump usually applies pressure to the confined liquid allowing constant flow of water in equal proportions despite changes in the pressure. Virtually, Sturzenbecker et al. (2011) note that considerable planning of the pump location and component arrangement is necessary. The fire pump should be protected from possible damage from explosive fires, floods, windstorms, freezing, and other conditions that may pose a potential danger to the equipment. For safety purposes, the fire pump should also be located at least 50 feet away from the building that is being protected. For the fire pumps stored inside the building, they should be insulated with a fire resistance construction and be within 40°F. Additionally, indoor fire pumps in high-rise buildings must also be stationed separately from the protected structure. If stored with an alarm system, the room temperature should be monitored, and the room must be well ventilated. When it comes to firefighters and occupants, the fire pumps are extremely beneficial in various ways. In high-rise buildings where the normal water system pressure cannot meet the hydraulic demands of the sprinkler system, the pump is essential for supply the firefighters with the needed pressure to fight the fire. For the occupants, the fire pump allows firefighters to combat fire faster and to prevent other parts of the building from the fire. By doing this, occupants are assured of safe evacuation without the high risk of fire.

Smoke Management System

Unlike in the past, modern day buildings are defined by a high-rise structure code extending to more than 75 feet in highest from the lowest level that a fire department vehicle can access. When the fire occurs in such buildings, the responding firefighters face several challenges such as the implementation of routine fire tactics and lack of ventilation. In high-rise buildings, smoke poses several risks as it escapes into the stairwell, elevator shaft and any other opening. Typically, when smoke spreads inside the building and openings, firefighting and evacuation operations become complicated as passageways are blocked and visibility minimal. Smoke management systems are designed to protect occupants from exposure to smoke through various methods (Sturzenbecker et al., 2011). Firstly, smoke management systems usually take advantage of the natural buoyancy of smoke and the stack effect to be able to fight smoke. Alongside system barriers, baffles and positive pressure fans, the systems control and direct smoke away from occupants in a building by forcing clean air into the vertical openings, stairwell, or elevator shafts in a structure. Ideally, the effectiveness of the system depends on the size and complexity of a building. Similarly, some systems can be controlled by trained operators or firefighting crews. Essentially, the fire management system has several remarkable benefits to the firefighters and occupants as well. In particular, by forcing clean air in areas blocked by smoke, firefighters can easily access other areas that require their attention without the barrier of excess smoke. On the other hand, the smoke management system is beneficial to occupants in that; it gives them a chance to be rescued or escape safety without the risk of dying in smoke-filled routes.

Standpipe and hose systems

Standpipe systems are pipes used to draw water from the water supply to provide firefighters with a faster way of mitigating fire especially in areas with no access to fire equipment. Ideally, the standpipe and hose systems are classified in three classes (Sturzenbecker et al., 2011). Usually, Class I standpipe systems can only be handled by trained personnel who have the right knowledge and skills. The connection in the Class I standpipe systems serves at least 2.5-inch fire hose connection, in order to meet the standard hose thread used by firefighters. The system is usually fixed along the stairwell of the building. On the other hand, building occupants who have the necessary skills can use 1.5 inch hose class II standpipes. Within buildings, the pipes are often fitted in cabinets. Unfortunately, the Class II standpipes system has one shortcoming; it can give a false sense of security to building occupants and mislead them to fighting fire even if it is easier to escape. The other pipe is the Class III standpipe system, which carries similar characteristics as the other two. The connection of Class III often has 2.5 inches that can be reduced to the 1.5-inch connection. Apart from the class categories, the standpipe systems are also categorized into different types such as wet or dry, manual or automatic, and semi-automatic. When connecting the standpipe systems to buildings, Class I and III standpipe system use more than one FDCs and provides the firefighters with a direct source of water. The FDC should also be located at a strategic point where it is easily accessible but away from the building. The benefits of using the standpipe and hose system are that it allows quick suppression of fire and often extinguishes fire even before the automatic systems are activated. Along with that, one of the other characteristics that makes the standpipe and hose system desirable is the fact that it can be operated by one person. Similarly, unlike other firefighting equipment, this system does not depend on smoke or flame when applying water to the fire, making it very reliable. Additionally, the system ensures that firefighters use less water since it is usually applied directly to the base of fire as opposed to an random spray of the automatic system. On the part of building occupants and their safety, the standpipe system allows firefighters quick suppression of fire. In return, this ensures sufficient time for occupants to vacate the building and help people who may be trapped.

Fire detection and alarm systems

The time when fire breaks and the start of firefighting makes it the single most important moment in fire control and can be effectively minimized through automated fire detection systems connected directly to the firefighters. Fire detections systems are designed to detect the fire when it is still in its early stages and when it is safe to evacuate occupants who may be present in the building (Jones, 2016). The systems are automatic and easily activated by smoke, high temperatures, or radiation heat. Normally, for the fire detection systems to be useful, they must be fitted with alarm systems that notify occupants of a fire breakage or send a signal to staff monitoring the station. In some cases, the alarms usually go directly to the fire department. The systems range from a single station smoke alarm often installed in residential homes and the simplest systems and used for detecting fire and warning occupants, to large commercial systems fitted in high-rise buildings. Virtually, fire detection systems allow early detection and play a major role in protecting the safety of emergency response patrol. Similarly, due to the short time is taken before responding to a fire outbreak, property destruction is greatly reduced. Besides, operation downtime minimized because control efforts are started early before the fire escalates. Nonetheless, the fire detection and alarm system have one limitation; they do not contain or control fire because they are merely an alarm system for alerting firefighters and occupants.

Water supply systems

While many other substances are used to put out the fire, water is still considered a major firefighting element. Water is well suited for the task of extinguishing the fire because it cools the burning fuels and the heat reduction contains the fire. Ideally, a majority of firefighters working in rural areas often have to put up with areas not served by main water systems with fire hydrants (Corbett, 2009). In other areas, the inadequate water capacity lacks the necessary pressure to mount effective firefighting attack. Still in some cases, especially in high-rise buildings, the municipal water supply systems are insufficient to provide the needed capacity for such structures. Furthermore, in most areas where they are prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, the main water systems may fail especially during a huge shock. In this context, the objective of firefighting water supply systems contained in a building is to ensure sufficient water is available for firefighters to control and contain the fire in the structure, protect occupants, and the building itself. In its simplest form, water supply systems construction take into consideration the main water supply, storage, and the piping system. Essentially, the water supply systems have various benefits to the firefighters and occupants of the building. By virtue, it is necessary to have enough water supplies for effective fire control. Having a water supply system ensures that firefighting is carried out and in an effective manner making it easy for firefighters to control and contain the fire. To the occupants, adequate water supply ensures that the fire is put out in the shortest time possible and the safety of the occupants. 

Fire detection and suppression systems are designed to discover and mitigate fires in their early development to ensure the safety of the firefighters, occupants, and properties. The systems can also be part of the protected building, acting automatically or manually when the fire is discovered. This study focused on analyzing five fire protection and suppression systems. In addition, the study also discussed the benefits of the fire detection and suppression systems to both the firefighters and the occupants. It was discovered that, a properly installed, tested and maintained fire detection and suppression plays a critically significant role in fire prevention and suppression. Whether it is an automatic fire detection and alarm system that cannot put out the fire, to a standpipe hose system or a fire pump, all these systems play a critically significant role and work together in fire protection and management.

References

Corbett, G. P. (2009). Fire engineering’s handbook for firefighter I & II. Tulsa, Okla: PennWell.

Giesler, M. (2016). Fire and life safety educator: principles and practice. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Jones, A. M. (2016). Fire protection systems. Place of publication not identified: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Sturzenbecker, M. J., Adams, B., Burnside, E., & International Fire Service Training Association. (2010). Fire detection and suppression systems. Stillwater, OK: Fire Protection Publications, Oklahoma State University.

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