Chosen carefully, fire suppression technology has the potential to provide an effective means of minimising the amount of damage caused by a fire outbreak within a building. Operating in tandem with fire detection systems, they are capable of controlling and even extinguishing fires without the need for any human intervention.
Engineered to control the length and intensity of fire outbreaks, suppression technology operates by responding to fire emergencies so that to the extent to which the fire escalates is limited. Some examples of automated suppression technology include; fire sprinkler systems, gaseous fire suppression, and foam systems.
While it is essential that fire protection technology of this type is only used in conjunction with other fire prevention measures, it can provide a vital 'first response' to fire emergencies.
What Types of Suppression Technology is available?
The three most commonly available categories are:
- Water Based – Sprinkler Mist
- Gaseous – Chemical Mist
- Foam – Chemical Foam
Conventional manually operated fire control and combat techniques including fire extinguishers and blankets can also be implemented. However, in order to uphold staff safety and to protect anyone else present, their use must be subject to strict safety and training protocol. Sprinkler systems can also be installed to provide fire suppression systems with additional support.
Utilising a centralised operations facility in combination with a system of fire combat material deployment and fire detection units positioned throughout the premises, suppression technology deploys dry chemicals which withhold the oxygen fire relies on to flourish, wet agents which to put out fire, or a balanced combination of both. This is intended to decelerate the progress of fires, or - in the ideal scenario - extinguish them altogether.
What dangers are associated with using Suppression Technology?
Any dangers or threats associated with suppression will stem from an inherent characteristic of the equipment in question interacting problematically with the environment in which it is installed. As such, these issues can be addressed effectively by ensuring that any relevant factors are identified and the most appropriate technology is selected.
For example, areas in which electrical equipment is located are not suitable for water-based systems as deployment could easily lead to these assets being damaged or destroyed by water. More importantly, such events also give rise to the possibility of electrical fires.
Other examples include foam-based systems which rely on strong chemicals which can be harmful to humans and are therefore unsuitable for inhabited areas, Co2 type gaseous suppression technology which poses a similar threat, and dry powder suppression technology which can damage soft furnishings and other assets.
It is also necessary to consider what type and severity of the suppression system used is most likely to need to contend with. For example, dry powder systems have a limited cooling effect, so must always be supported with additional fire suppression technology. Similarly, wet chemical systems should not be relied upon solely to combat wood fires.
What steps are necessary to ensure the correct Suppression device is Installed?
The first step towards devising a strategy to fully utilise the potential of fire suppression technology within your own building is to engage the services of a qualified fire safety professional such as Contact Fire & Security. This can prevent you from wasting valuable time and money exploring suppression technology which is not suitable, as well delivering the best protection for the money invested and preventing you from installing an ineffective system.
Additionally, undertaking regular risk assessments is a vital component of any effective fire safety and prevention strategy. This also requires expertise, and should always be conducted by an appropriate person. While it is possible to undergo training in this yourself - or to nominate a member of your team who must be similarly trained - it is often much more cost effective to contract a professional to take care of these assessments on your behalf.
All of the suppression solutions discussed above can play a part in delivering a fully optimised fire safety and prevention strategy. However, in order to fully unlock their potential and provide maximum fire protection and safety, it is paramount that close attention is paid to how they interact and co-operate within the specific environment in which they are installed. Property owners and managers must also ensure that they take account of any changes made to relevant regulations, and embrace emerging fire safety technologies as they become available.
Operating across Oxford and the surrounding area, the team here at Contact Fire & Security are highly skilled in installing fire safety systems which are suitable for a wide range of applications. In tandem with our close connections within the fire prevention and suppression solutions industries, this allows us to offer an outstanding, tailor-made fire safety and prevention strategy engineered around your building's unique features and requirements. View our FAQ's page to learn more about Fire Prevention and Alarms.