If you carry cargo on a regular basis, you know it's important to preserve its structural integrity and value. So what steps can you take to keep your cargo as protected as possible?
One important option is to install a fire suppression system. But how can you choose the right system and make sure it functions properly?
How to Protect Cargo With a Fire Suppression System
These are some of the most important tips to follow to protect your cargo with the fire suppression system:
1. Choose the right suppression material. First, you're going to need to choose the right suppression material. Different suppression agents have different pros and cons; some are suitable for extinguishing almost any type of fire, but they may introduce other risks, such as damaging your equipment. Water is the most commonly considered option by people unfamiliar with fire suppression systems, but most modern systems rely on a dry chemical or foam to get the job done. Before you can choose the correct suppression material, you need to know your biggest fire risks and what types of fires would result from those risks.
2. Ensure adequate coverage. When planning your fire suppression system, always make sure you have adequate coverage. You'll want to make sure your entire business is potentially coverable by suppression agents. At the very least, you should have your highest fire risk areas protected.
3. Install with the help of a qualified contractor. Some fire suppression systems are designed to be easily installed, so much so that you may feel qualified to do the installation work yourself. Still, it's a good idea to hire a qualified contractor to help you with the installation. Working with an expert increases your chances of having a successful and functional installation; you don't want to find out that your DIY fire suppression installation went wrong in the middle of a raging fire.
4. Use automatic detection and actuation. If possible, choose a fire suppression system that functions automatically. Most modern fire suppression systems have some form of automatic detection, evaluating the environment for heat, smoke, or other signals that a fire has emerged. Eliminating the need for human intervention increases reliability and safety.
5. Add a manual release option. That said, automatic deployment methods aren't always perfect. If an automatic detection method fails, or if the fire is hard to detect, it's a good idea to also have a manual release option available. This could be a lever or cord that your workers can use if they detect a fire before the automatic detection system does.
6. Annually inspect your system for damage and blockage. While most modern systems are designed to be as low maintenance as possible, it's still a good idea to perform a cursory annual inspection of your equipment. Check to make sure the release valves aren't blocked and that there is no visible damage to any of your fire suppression system components. If you notice any damage or see any troubling signs, issue a repair as soon as possible.
7. Have a professional inspect your system every five years. It's also a good idea to conduct a more thorough inspection, with the help of a professional contractor, every five years or so. They can inspect the system in more depth and make sure it's still going to function as originally intended. Hopefully, your system will live for many years without the need for any maintenance or repair, but it's best to handle these potential issues proactively before you depend on the system.
8. Keep deployment locations clear. Your installer will likely make sure this is the case, but keep your deployment locations clear. Around sprinklers and other deployment components, you need to have several feet of free space where the water, dry chemical, or foam can be readily released. If this release is artificially blocked, it may not reach the areas it needs to reach, allowing the fire to continue growing.
9. Invest in additional fire safety. Fire safety isn’t just about installing a fire suppression system. It's also important to invest in other fire safety options and applications. For example, you can probably minimize risks of fire by properly placing your equipment, enforcing fire safety policies, and installing other tools meant to assist in mitigating a fire, such as a fire extinguisher.
10. Train your employees. Spend time training your employees on fire safety as well. If your entire team is familiar with the potential risk of a fire, and they know what to do in response to a fire, they're going to be much more capable of protecting your business, your cargo, and the people within your business. Consider having a fire drill on a regular basis so you can rehearse proper behaviors in response to a fire. Use this as a learning opportunity for anyone without the requisite training or knowledge.
The Importance of Fire Insurance
Your property insurance policy may or may not cover damage related to a fire. Take the time to read your policy thoroughly and investigate whether fire damage is covered. If you aren't protected for property damage or inventory damage due to fire, or if your coverage is currently insufficient, consider investing in additional fire insurance coverage. Your fire suppression system should do an excellent job of eliminating small fires and mitigating damage from large ones, but there's still a possibility that a fire could become out of control. If that's the case, you want to guarantee as much financial protection for yourself as possible.
Investing in the Right Fire Suppression System for Your Cargo
Choosing a fire suppression system is a big decision, and installing one can be nerve-wracking. But everything gets much easier when you choose the right partner. At Cease Fire, we help our customers with everything, from evaluating fire risk to choosing the right fire suppression system and installing it. Contact us for more information today!