If you own a home or a business, it’s vital that you have the proper fire protection equipment at hand in case of an emergency, including smoke detectors, fire alarms, fire extinguishers and automatic sprinklers. Here’s a more in-depth look at these different types of fire safety equipment.
Properly installed smoke alarms play a key role in reducing death and injuries caused by fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), having a working smoke detector in your home cuts the chance of perishing in a fire by 50 percent.
To make the most of this fire protection equipment:
- Have one installed in every bedroom and on every level of your home.
- Test the detectors once a month to ensure operation.
- Replace the batteries once a year.
- Install new smoke detectors every 10 years.
You have several different types of smoke detectors to choose from. These include the following:
- Heat detectors sense heat from a fire and sound an alarm or trigger automatic sprinklers. They don’t detect smoke, so if fire codes require you to have a smoke alarm, heat detectors are not sufficient.
- Photoelectric sensors have an internal beam of light that, when interrupted by smoke, sounds an alarm. These are best for detecting slow-burning, smoldering fires that produce more smoke than heat.
- Ionization sensors have a small but steady current running through them. When smoke interrupts the current, an alarm sounds. This technology is faster at reacting to fast flaming fires that give off more heat than smoke.
Fire Alarm Systems
While smoke detectors alone may be enough in a residential situation, commercial buildings often need a more complex fire alarm system complete with smoke detectors, heat detectors and manual pull stations wired to a fire alarm control panel. Sirens and strobe lights ensure everyone in the building is aware of the emergency situation while monitoring services automatically relay the alarm to the fire department.
Portable fire extinguishers save lives and preserve property by putting out small fires or containing growth until the fire department gets there. However, this fire protection equipment should only be used if:
- The fire is confined to a small area and is not growing.
- Everyone has evacuated the building.
- The fire department has been called.
- The room is not filled with smoke, which could potentially harm the person working the fire extinguisher.
When selecting a fire extinguisher for your home, your best choice is a multipurpose ABC fire extinguisher, capable of putting out Class A (trash, wood and paper), Class B (liquids) and Class C (electrical) fires.
When choosing the right fire extinguisher for your business, consider what industry you work in and the types of fires you’re liable to encounter. For example, Class K fire extinguishers are needed for commercial kitchens since they are designed to put out grease fires.
Read the instructions that come with your fire extinguisher carefully. In general, remember the word PASS to operate the equipment correctly:
- Pull the pin with the nozzle pointed away from you.
- Aim low to extinguish the fire at its base.
- Squeeze the lever in a slow, controlled manner.
- Sweep the nozzle side to side.
Automatic Fire Sprinklers
In homes and businesses where the fire alarm is linked to automatic sprinklers, the water can drastically reduce the flame and smoke damage caused by a fire. All commercial buildings are required to have fire sprinklers, but it’s a shame that, according to the NFPA, only 4.6 percent of occupied homes in 2009 had this type of fire protection equipment installed. A sprinkler system is incredibly powerful against fires, sometimes extinguishing the blaze completely before the fire department even arrives.
The risk of perishing in a fire is cut by 80 percent when automatic sprinkler systems are in place. Property loss is also cut by 70 percent. If you’re worried about water damage, be aware that only the sprinkler above the flame is activated by heat from the fire.
If your home or business lacked proper fire protection equipment when a fire broke out, rest assured that Rainbow International® professional restoration services can help you recover. Please contact us to begin the restoration process today.