It’s the emergency you hope you never have to think about: fire protection. Fast-spreading and quickly destructive, fire can turn your home, office, or other commercial property into ashes in a matter of minutes.
Fire can leave behind millions in damage, as well as inherent dangers to the property’s occupants. Adding fire protection solutions to your new construction or remodeling project just makes sense.
Most everyone remembers fire drills in school. Many companies occasionally hold fire drills to educate employees on the proper procedure for the day it happens. We always hope it never does.
Because it can be needed at any time, fire protection solutions are a significant component of any type of building design. These designs can become more complicated in larger commercial projects. Detecting systems, suppression monitoring and evacuation paths all converge to ensure the highest level of protection for the occupants.
The first order of business is a system that detects fire and notifies occupants of the imminent threat.
These can range from manual wall alarms that an occupant pulls to more sophisticated heat, smoke, and flame detectors. The type you need will depend on the structure and its use. Those intended for flame detectors will usually be coupled with a fire suppression system, such as sprinklers.
The type of fire detection system you’ll need in your structure will depend on the planned use. Of course, for a home, ionization smoke detectors, possibly coupled with a heat detector, are most commonly used.
Commercial properties have their choice of heat, ionization, photoelectric, and the combination type of ionization/photoelectric, which quickly detect any presence of smoke in an area. Once detected, the system can notify people as well as trigger the fire suppression unit closest to the detected fire location.
Sprinkler systems are the most common forms of fire suppression. For most fires, it’s quickly effective and not harmful to the building’s occupants. However, it’s not the best for electrical and grease fires (such as in a restaurant) and can quickly cause damage to a property, its contents (such as a data center or server room) and require considerable clean-up afterward.
There are three types of gaseous systems that can be used in place of water where electrical or other sensitive equipment is housed.
- Inert gas systems smother fires, reduce the oxygen in the area, or displacing them. Gases such as aragonite, nitrogen, and inergen can be deployed to extinguish fires without causing water damage.
- Carbon dioxide is best for industrial local application systems with manageable risks with no personnel present. Although effective and inexpensive, there are safety considerations that must be followed. By removing oxygen from an unoccupied area, it can safely extinguish a fire by “flooding.” Carbon dioxide has been used for fire suppression for over 100 years and is one of the least expensive methods available.
- Clean chemical fire suppression systems discharge a gaseous agent that provides fire extinguishing by absorbing heat. Similar to inert gas systems, it’s clean, in that it leaves no residues, and causes no damage to equipment. There is less of an installation cost, and not as hardware intensive, making it more affordable.
The type of fire suppression system you choose will also depend on the building’s use and occupancy. Your architect can advise you on options, as well as ensure that the system you choose is suitable for your home or commercial property.
Maui’s Fire Prevention Bureau works to help raise fire safety awareness, as well as finding potential hazards and remedying them before anyone is hurt or property can be damaged. The code enforcement section similarly investigates complaints, ensures code enforcement, answer questions and assist elsewhere when required.
The county’s Plans Reviewing section examines building plans during the permit process to ensure that standards for fire safety are met and included in the construction process.
The Fire Investigation bureau determines the causes of fires as well as gives expert testimony in court and provides reports as needed.
If your home is not already protected by a smoke detector, you can request one through the county. The Smoke Alarm Maui program offers installation to qualified applicants. The application also includes a short checklist.
Including fire protection solutions in your design can help prevent massive loss of property and life in the event of the worst.
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