Fire prevention is of the utmost importance in all types of buildings, industrial, commercial, and domestic. Without the correct fire safety measures in place, you introduce the risk of avoidable damage to your property and the loss of the lives of those in it. In this article, we will discuss the various fire prevention methods you could implement in your building to make it just a little bit safer.
Why do fires start?
There are many reasons why a fire may start in your building, and most can be avoided with regular risk assessments, which in and of themselves are fire prevention methods. Fires start because of three vital components, the first of which is a source of ignition, the second is fuel, and the third is oxygen. Oxygen, obviously, can’t be avoided, but placing heat sources in proximity to fuel is the direct antithesis of fire prevention.
The source of ignition is usually something as simple as heaters or lighting, as well as general electrical equipment. If you don’t have general electrical appliances inspected regularly with the help of fire assessments, they may become a hazard. PAT test labels will determine whether your item has passed its fire safety test, and when the next review of the electrical appliance will be.
In office buildings especially, there is a very high presence of paper, which can act as an easy source of fuel for fire. Things like wood, paper, plastic, rubber, and foam are the main perpetrators of the spread of fire and should not be situated close to heat sources, to act following fire prevention.
The general rule concerning fire prevention for employers or property owners (non-domestic), is that you should ensure to the furthest reasonable practice that you will install fire safety measures to ensure the safety of those in the immediate vicinity. What this means is that you’ll analyse every aspect of your building and contemplate how your current fire prevention methods can be improved to protect those in your building further.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 states that all external walls, flat entrance doors, and the structure of buildings should be accounted for in fire risk assessments.
Passive & Active Fire Protection
Passive and active fire protection is a series of fire safety measures that are present throughout a building that you may not have even noticed. Passive fire protection measures are items that are implemented in a building to prevent the spread of fire should one ignite. These measures must be regularly tested, but do not require any human intervention to work properly. Active fire protection on the other hand is items that require action to be taken to detect, alert, stop and contain the fire.
Fire Prevention Methods
Now that we have discussed the difference between active and passive fire protection, we will cover the methods used under each of these categories to help prevent the spread of a fire, and how the eventuality can be avoided, to begin with.
- Fire Doors
Fire doors can slow the spread rate of fire and smoke throughout a building and allow more time for those in it to evacuate.
This refers to treating each room as its own little building and providing every surface of the structure with as many fire protection measures as possible. This includes the walls, floors, and ceilings.
- Fire alarm systems
Although not illegal to do without, it is highly recommended that a fire alarm system is installed to notify everyone in your building of danger. Well-maintained fire-alarm systems do exactly what they say on the tin, and alarm people to evacuate as soon as possible.
Sprinklers are great at stopping the spread of fire, as they can’t exist when being doused by water. The only issue with sprinklers is that the sprinkler tank must be maintained regularly to keep the sprinklers working properly. Usually, sprinkler tanks stop working because of the high volume of limescale in the tank, which can build up over time and damage the pipes. If left for long enough, sprinkler tank repair may be necessary.
- Reduce Clutter
The more things present in your building for the fire to cling to, the more chance you have of an uncontrollable fire spreading. Having a clearout every now and then and giving up some of the things you don’t use could be the difference between a small loss and a crippling one.
- Have Regular Assessments
The best method of fire prevention is to ensure your appliances are regularly inspected and that your measures are still up to date with the current regulations. These assessments will alert you of any action you need to take to prevent potential fires in the future.
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