Best health and safety
practices for businesses

Structural Fire Protection & Fire Safety Breakdown

Fire protection engineering and fire safety engineering are large fields and can seem overwhelming for the business owner or landlord who needs to understand what they’re required to do in order to protect their business and premises from the dangers of fire.

The goal of this article is to give you a big picture overview of fire protection, which itself is one of the most important components of fire engineering. Having an overview of fire protection systems will equip you with the prerequisite knowledge to seek out a more detailed solution that’s appropriate for your own premises.

Active Fire Protection

These are fire protection systems that respond to motion and events, such as heat and smoke. They’re actively involved in eliminating the spread, and reducing the impact of existing fires. They can be further classified into two major types.

Manual Fire Suppression

Fire extinguishers and fire blankets are manual fire suppression systems. They require people to make use of them. For small premises these are satisfactory, but for a larger building with potentially unmanned areas their effectiveness is limited.

Manual fire suppression is always good to have on your premises in order to support the automatic fire suppression and as a last resort.

Automatic Fire Suppression

A fire first of all needs to be detected automatically which is done through heat sensors. An automatic fire system will detect a fire and then react by spraying the fire with some sort of substance depending on the type of system that’s chosen.

Typical systems are fire sprinklers, condensed aerosol fire suppression and gaseous fire suppression. Different systems are appropriate for different types of locations. For example, server rooms and areas with medical equipment will need a non-conducting substance such as argon gas. Typical water-based systems would cause as much damage to the equipment as the fire itself.

Engineered Fire Suppression Systems

Some structures require very specific, custom designed fire suppression systems in order to properly eliminate and prevent the spread of fires. Marine structures and large kitchens are examples of locations that will require engineered solutions.

Pre-Engineered Fire Suppression Systems

A fire suppression system that uses pre-engineered, pre-designed components. It’s designed for general widespread applications.

Most landlords and business owners will only require a pre-engineered fire suppression system for their premises which is a much simpler type of installation and naturally costs a lot less than a custom application-specific solution.

Passive Fire Protection

As well as actively seeking to extinguish a fire, measures should be taken that make it as difficult as possible for fires to spread and cause damage. Areas should be compartmentalised as much as possible. Fire resistant walls and floors where possible can greatly reduce the spread and potential damage a fire can cause.

Passive fire protection also provides more time for people to escape in an emergency and more time for the fire services to reach and put out the fire.

Fire Prevention

The simplest form of fire protection is actually preventing fires in the first place. Minimising ignition sources and making sure equipment and electrics are regularly maintained to a satisfactory level of safety.

Education and training are a vital part of preventing fires. Making sure staff are following safe procedures and best practices is one of the most cost effective and sensible methods of protecting your premises from the dangers of fire.

Emergency procedures should also be well documented and training given to anyone living or working on the premises. If people are aware of what to do in an emergency then injuries and incidents can be avoided or at the very least kept to a bare minimum.