Fire detection is primarily about saving lives rather than property, although early detection can certainly achieve both outcomes successfully. Although similar detection systems might be used domestically as well as commercially and industrially, there are early warning systems better suited to an industrial environment, and it’s these systems that we’ll focus on in this article.
Fire protection design is all about doing everything possible to save lives and property in the event of a fire outbreak, and one of the key elements is having a quality fire detection system suited to the location in which it’s installed.
The Right Smoke Detector/Fire Alarms Are a Must
What you don’t want is a smoke detector that goes off every time there is a bit of dust, smog or exhaust fumes in the air. Smoke detectors and fire alarms that have been designed for industrial use are smart systems that can differentiate between smoke from a fire and other types of pollutants in the air. While the system shouldn’t be so arbitrary that it takes a full-on blaze before it’s activated, your premises can’t be equipped with smoke alarms that are hypersensitive to everything.
Early detection of fire is what can help prevent disasters. If a fire alarm alerts workers to the presence of a small fire, it can usually be contained with a fire extinguisher or other form of fire suppressant before it has a chance to evolve into a dangerous blaze. In the event a fire does get out of hand in rapid time, the rest of the fire suppression system kicks in, such as the sprinkler system, while everyone evacuates the building.
Industrial fire alarms don’t just sound an alert if smoke is detected. Many systems are more advanced than this. While they will sound an alert, other than an urgent tone, these systems often have voice communication programmed into the system that is played over a public address, telling everyone of the danger and to evacuate the premises immediately.
Having the voice warning system is important as sometimes a tone could get confused with, or drowned out by, other noises and sounds coming from the normal operation of equipment and machinery. Having both a tone and voice helps to reduce any chance of confusion.
A third alert can be a flashing light system, adding a visual element to the warning system. Flashing lights are highly effective when they are located in areas of the premises where there are excessive noise levels. If the audible signals are not detected due to the noise, then the workers will see the emergency visual cue to evacuate.
A Fire Indicator Panel, also called a FIP, is an essential piece of equipment for large industrial sites. This panel helps to monitor atmospheric conditions in the workplace, receiving vital information via environmental sensors such as fire alarms, or the manual triggering of an alert, such as when the glass of a ‘break glass unit’ is shattered.
Not only can a FIP relay important information to management and staff about what’s occurring within the site and where, when the fire brigade arrives they’ll use information gleaned from this panel to assign tasks to stop the spread of toxic smoke and the fire itself.
Your Industrial Business Needs a Fire Protection System
Along with quality smoke detectors that have been designed for industrial use, your business needs a complete fire protection system designed and installed by experienced fire protection contractors with a positive track record.
This will include sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers located in easy to access locations, fire blankets, emergency exit light installation, fire hoses and more. Along with the necessary firefighting equipment, ideally all the staff in your business will also undergo fire protection training, so they know what to do should an emergency situation arise.
You’ll want a system that’s tailor-made for your premises and the particular type of industry for best results.
Not all smoke detectors/fire alarms are suited to industrial use. Your business needs to be fitted out with alarms that are purpose-built for industrial premises and situations. With the right alarm system and fire suppression system in place, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your business and your workers are fully protected.
Ken Thomas is the director at Total Fire Solutions, fire safety solutions providers and one of the top 3 independent fire system distributors for the Asia Pacific region. His vision is to create a ‘one stop shop’ fire protection company committed to NSW mining and heavy industry. He is passionate for and excited by the latest developments in fire protection technology.