While technology has provided a certain amount of protection from many natural forces that have affected civilization, fire remains a threat, both to people and property. Commercial fires occur for a variety of reasons and carry a high price when they occur in dollar value and casualties. Luckily, there are an array of commercial fire protection methods, usually divided into two categories, active and passive fire protection.
Active Fire Protection
These methods of commercial fire protection require some action or a specific motion in order to effectively be employed against a fire. These actions can be automated as well as being manual processes. These techniques are what most people will volunteer if asked about ways to fight a fire. They include:
- Fire Alarm/Smoke Alarm: These are used to detect the presence of fire and, ideally, serve as an early warning system.
- Fire Sprinkler Systems: The primary purpose of a sprinkler system is inhibiting the growth of a fire.
- Fire Extinguishers and Fire Fighting Personel: These are the methods employed to put out the fire. Fire extinguishers are generally only effective for small fires that have not spread extensively. Firefighters engage with large fires and put them out.
Passive Fire Protection
These commercial fire protection methods are actually built into a structure with the use of materials in the floors and walls that are fire resistant. The purpose of using these materials is to compartmentalize a building so that a fire moves more slowly, which limits damage and saves lives. Some common examples of passive fire protection are:
- Dampers: These either diminish or prevent the spread of smoke through the ductwork of a building. Smoke is often the actual cause of death in this type of circumstance, so dampers are a valuable building feature.
- Fire Doors and Firestopping: These are what allows for compartmentalization. Firestopping is generally not something most people are familiar with, but it turns a wall into an effective fire barrier.
- Photoluminescent Markings: These lights and their companion exit signs are lead building occupants to a safe exit point. A building with passive fire protection will generally burn in a certain way due to advanced planning, allowing a safe path to be marked.
The buildings with the best protection are those that employ both methods of fire protection. In such cases, when both systems are well maintained, loss of life and loss of property can be greatly eliminated. Owners of commercial properties would do well to contact a professional to discuss their preventative services and prevent the occurrence of an unfortunate event. After all, better to invest in prevention than to ignore the issue only to be given cause later for grave regret.