Alt Title: Is a Fire Suppression System All You Need to Protect Against Fires?
Investing in a fire suppression system is one of the best moves you can make for protecting your business against the threat of a fire. But is this the only investment that you need to make? Is a fire suppression system enough, by itself, to constitute total fire preparedness in your business?
How a Fire Suppression System Helps
Let's start by looking at how a fire suppression system can improve your fire preparedness.
· Immediate response. First, fire suppression systems are designed to respond to a fire in progress, usually with a temperature-based mechanism that automatically triggers when the temperature rises above a certain point. If a fire breaks out, the suppression system kicks in automatically, requiring no human intervention whatsoever.
· Flame extinguishing. The most obvious strength of a fire suppression system is the ability to extinguish flames. If the fire is small and relatively easy to control, even a basic fire suppression system should be enough to completely extinguish it, ending the threat before it has the potential to do any real damage or harm.
· Spread prevention. Even if the fire suppression system isn't quite enough to extinguish the flames entirely, it should do a decent job at minimizing the spread. The fire will be weaker and certain areas of the building will be covered in chemicals that stand in the fire's way. Because of this, potentially devastating fires are effectively neutralized.
· Damage minimization. Many homes and businesses have built-in sprinkler systems, designed to douse flames with water to extinguish them. But these present new problems: the potential for water damage. Most modern fire suppression systems are designed with dry chemicals and clean agents, which are much less destructive and, in many contexts, more effective at combating flames.
Keys to Effective Fire Suppression Management
Fire suppression systems generally do an excellent job, but there are some important caveats to keep in mind.
· Purchase the right type of fire suppression system. The success of your fire suppression system is partially dependent on the type of system you install. Different types of fire suppression systems use different agents and deploy in different ways, so it's important to choose the right system for your needs. You may need to buy different types of fire suppression systems based on the types of fire you're likely to encounter, the structure of your building, or other variables.
· Install units in key locations. It's important to have fire suppression units in place wherever you're most likely to experience a fire. At the same time, you should have multiple units to control the spread, just in case your building experiences a fire that can't be confined to one area.
· Test and maintain when necessary. It's also a good idea to test and maintain your system whenever necessary. Some modular fire suppression systems are designed to be as low maintenance as possible, remaining operational without testing or modification for many years. Others require a more intensive approach, sometimes including annual testing and updating.
Is a Fire Suppression System Enough?
Is a fire suppression system by itself enough to make your business or home perfectly prepared for a fire?
These are some of the other elements you need to consider.
· Fire alarms. If all homes had smoke alarms installed, it could save 890 lives each year. Fire alarms typically emit loud noises and bright lights in response to detecting smoke or other indications that a fire has broken out. This gives people time to evacuate the building before the fire begins to spread and, in many cases, alerts a local firefighter team that a response is necessary. Many fire suppression systems are designed to tie into fire alarm systems directly, but this isn't always guaranteed. Make sure you have both to ensure adequate protection.
· Fire prevention. It's great to respond to a fire in progress. But it's even better to prevent those fires from ever existing. Even if your fire suppression system kicks in immediately, the flames may have the opportunity to do some damage. Accordingly, you should minimize potential fire hazards in your building and follow best practices for preventing fires. The majority of fires can be prevented with even basic safety measures.
· Fire response planning. Your fire suppression system may kick in automatically, but how are your employees, customers, and other contacts going to behave? What steps should be followed in response to this emergency? Is there an evacuation plan in place? Are there resources in place to help people find their way? Do you have emergency lighting and backup plans? Are there fire escape stairways, emergency ropes, and netting in place? Are your windows easy to open?
· Employee training and education. If you’re running a business, you also need to think about employee training and education – and on multiple levels. Do your employees understand and appreciate the biggest fire hazards faced in your business? Do they know the procedures and practices necessary to prevent most fires? If a fire does break out, do they know what to do and how to get to safety? Initial training and education is a great place to start, but it’s also important to reinforce that training with ongoing drills and new learning opportunities.
· Other tools and equipment. Does your building have other tools and equipment for fire safety in place? For example, are there portable fire extinguishers that individuals can use to put out small fires manually? Are there axes or other tools designed to help people escape from danger?
The short answer is no. A fire suppression system, alone, isn’t enough to make your business totally prepared against the threat of a fire. But it’s a great place to start – and it’s still one of the best tools you can buy. If you’re ready to upgrade your fire response plan or improve how you protect your business, browse our selection of fire suppression products – or contact us today for more information!