Understanding the Importance of Fire Safety in a Commercial Building
The benefits of installing and maintaining a robust fire safety system should be pretty obvious, especially when it comes to big cities like London. First and foremost, they save lives. Fire related deaths are actually quite rare in commercial buildings with functioning alarms.
Even if the worst does happen, and somebody gets trapped inside, the emergency services are minutes away. You don’t need to call, because the best fire safety systems have an integrated link to the nearest station. If yours is making a racket, they know you need help.
This guide to the core components of a fire control systems installation will help you identify and solve weaknesses in your building.
The fire alarm is the most important part of the entire system, because it’s the one which saves lives. The occupants of your building can, to some extent, use blankets and other suppression tools to directly attack flames, but they must have completed fire safety training beforehand and only do so if it is safe.
Ultimately, the only failsafe way to escape a fire is to leave the area. Fire alarms give you this opportunity, by sounding at the first sign of danger. If your business has an established (and practised) fire evacuation routine, you should have no trouble getting everybody out.
In the UK, commercial buildings are required, by law, to have a fire extinguisher for every 200 square metres of space. They are also required to be checked on a regular basis by a qualified fire safety office or inspector. If this is not the case, your business risks a hefty fine.
Portable extinguishers are used to fight small, localised, fires before they have a chance to get out of control and become a building wide hazard. So, for example, fire extinguishers in school science laboratories are used (more regularly than you might think) to put out small blazes.
Most commercial buildings in London also contain one or more fire blankets. They work in a similar way to extinguishers, because both use suppression and smothering tactics to put out flames. For this reason, they should be an integral part of your fire control systems installation.
Fire blankets can only be used on small flames, so a large and rapidly growing fire still requires an immediate evacuation. Also, in order to use them properly, a member of staff must first be trained in their correct handling. Otherwise, they could end up causing injuries to themselves.
More sophisticated than extinguishers and blankets is the sprinkler system. It is wired to conventional fire alarms, so you get the same warning when smoke or intense heat is detected. However, instead of just ringing, the system also deploys a number of small hoses.
They activate a water supply which continues until there is no obvious signs of fire left. The major downside of a sprinkler system is that, while it has the capacity to save lives, it can also cause irreparable damage to electronic equipment and paper documents.
Gas and Radon Systems
The only time that it is safe to use gas and radon extinguishers is in area which isn’t usually manned by employees. The most common function, therefore, is as protection in large server rooms. This is a critical part of the company, but it cannot be safeguarded using water.
Sprinklers would cause untold damage and a devastating loss of data, so special types of gas are released instead. The problem is that they remove the oxygen from the air. Any living thing in the room must vacate quickly or they are at risk of suffocation.