One of the most important parts of protecting any structure is to prepare for the possibility of a fire. The difference between minor damage and a catastrophe is often preparedness. How do you maximize fire preparedness in a building? Follow these four recommendations.
Fire Sprinkler Systems
The speed of the response to a fire is one of the most basic elements in stopping or at least containing it. People are rarely going to be faster than automated systems that can detect fires and deploy fire sprinkler systems. You should have maximum coverage in zones with fire risks to ensure anything that does happen is met with suppression efforts as soon as possible. Sprinklers will deploy quickly, and they should at least contain a fire long enough for first responders to arrive and start fighting it.
Segregating Materials into Zones
Many different materials will react differently during fires. Worse, some of them can have terrible interactions. Know what is in every part of the building to reduce the risk of mixing materials that might accelerate a fire. Whenever possible, segregate these materials into separate buildings or at least separate zones.
When you talk to contractors about fire sprinkler systems, make sure you're clear about all the hazards at your location. You need to have the right products in the sprinklers to suppress whatever type of fire might happen. For example, there are products that work well in chemical fires but may do poorly in grease fires. This is another reason to segregate your materials so you can be sure every fire risk is matched to the right suppressant.
Backflow testing is critical whenever you have sprinklers in a building. A backflow testing system attaches to the lines and allows a technician to verify that there's sufficient pressure. This ensures that, whenever the system deploys suppressant materials, there will be enough pressure to distribute the suppressant through the room.
Bear in mind that this could vary significantly depending on what's needed in a zone. Some foams, for example, may be thicker than other products. Let the technician doing the backflow testing know what should be in the lines so they can properly check the pressure.
Every at-risk area should have fire extinguishers to allow individuals to respond to small fires. You should also have mapped escape routes, and these should include fire extinguishers so people moving away from fires can respond if they encounter flames. As with the sprinklers, regular testing of the fire extinguishers is wise.