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The Top 10 Misconceptions About Fire Suppression

The Top 10 Misconceptions About Fire Suppression

Posted 5/30/2022

Alt Title: X Misconceptions About Fire Suppression Systems You Might Believe

We are all familiar with the idea of fire suppression, but our understanding of the process may be flawed. It's true that fire suppression systems work to extinguish fires as quickly as possible, while minimizing damage, but how exactly do they work? Are they reliable? And are they really worth the money?

We’ll be answering these questions and more.

The Top Misconceptions About Fire Suppression

These are some of the top misconceptions we hear related to fire suppression:

1.       A smoke detector is the only real protection you need. Smoke detectors are rightfully hailed as one of the best safety investments you can make, in your home or in your business. When a fire breaks out, it produces smoke, which in turn signals the alarm to go off; at this point, everyone in the vicinity has plenty of time to realize that a fire has broken out and get to a point of safety. 

However, it's dangerous to assume that a smoke detector is ample protection in the face of a raging fire. Fire spreads quickly, and much more quickly than most people realize. By the time your smoke detector system goes off, escape routes may be cut off. Fire suppression systems help control the spread of flames, buying more time for people to escape.

2.       Water is the best (or only) agent for fire suppression. When you picture a fire suppression system, what's coming out of the deployment mechanism? If you're like most people, you probably think of water coming out of a sprinkler head. But modern fire suppression systems come in many forms, and water is only one agent used to address flames. In fact, most businesses have migrated away from water, instead using dry chemicals or foam to extinguish flames without damaging their equipment or their property.

3.       Fire suppression is more about property protection than safety. We often see fire suppression systems in commercial and industrial environments, looming above expensive pieces of equipment in expensive properties. It makes sense, then, that many people believe fire suppression is more about property protection than safety. But fire suppression is about saving human lives in equal measure; if installed and used properly, fire suppression can maximize the chances of any building occupants making it out alive and unharmed.

4.       Fire suppression systems do more damage than the fire. Occasionally, you'll hear someone suggests that a fire suppression system may end up doing more damage than the fire itself. This may be true in certain contexts, like if you use the wrong suppressing agent in an environment with valuable equipment or property. However, if you choose the right suppression system, this shouldn't be an issue. You'll incur some cleanup costs, of course, but these should be far less than the cost of fire damage.

5.       Suppression agents are harmful to humans. It's also true that some suppression agents are harmful to humans; historically, some of the dry chemicals we've used have posed inhalation hazards and other dangers. However, this isn’t always the case, and today, we have access to a wide array of “clean agents” that are useful for suppressing fires but are also safe for humans and the environment. Always do your research before choosing a suppression agent or making assumptions about your fire suppression system.

6.       Even a small fire can trigger the entire system. Old school sprinkler systems were often constructed in a way that forced the entire system to be triggered whenever a single sprinkler had detected even a small flame. Because of this, some people are now concerned that a lit match or a similarly small, contained fire could instantly trigger the entire fire suppression system. This is typically a non-issue, however. Detection methods are sophisticated enough to delineate between tiny flames and real threats, and suppression systems can be localized, so that only the relevant deployment components are activated.

7.       Fire suppression systems take care of everything for you. Automatic fire suppression systems are designed to work without human effort, and they're typically robust and functional enough to kill most fires in their tracks. However, they're still not going to do everything for you. You still need to plan escape routes, educate your people, and in some cases, contact emergency services when fires do break out.

8.       Installing a fire suppression system in an existing building is an expensive pain. Fire suppression systems are easiest to install when constructing a new building from the ground up. However, it's neither expensive nor especially time consuming to install modular fire suppression systems in existing buildings.

9.       Over time, fire suppression systems get less reliable. Like any mechanical system, fire suppression systems do have a possibility of deteriorating over time. However, fire suppression systems are highly reliable, and as long as you inspect them annually, you can catch any issues before they become a problem.

10.   Fire suppression systems are too expensive to be worth it. Fire suppression systems are less expensive than most people think, especially if you find the right installation partner. Besides that, they could end up saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars in expenses. It's one of the best insurance policies you can get and one of the best ways to protect your business from risks associated with fire. Because of this, fire suppression is almost always “worth it.”

Investing in a Fire Suppression System

Investing in a fire suppression system is one of the best moves you can make if your goal is protecting your business and the people within it. A good smoke detector system and a fire insurance policy are excellent forms of protection, but they're not going to stop the spread of flames in the moment. If you're interested in learning more about the fire suppression systems that are currently available, or if you're ready to talk about suppression agents and installation, contact us directly today!