When staying at a large hotel in downtown Kansas City for work last week, my colleague commented that her husband had already texted her and asked if she had located the nearest fire exit to her hotel room and if she had studied the evacuation plan posted on her room door. Her husband is not a worry wart. He is a fire fighter. Having served for more than 15 years, he is well aware of the importance of fire sprinkler companies, fire prevention and fire safety. I’m surprised he didn’t check up on her hotel in the week prior to our trip to inquire about the hotel’s most recent fire sprinkler inspections and ask to have the reports faxed to him to review. Turns out, inspections could be almost as important as the initial installation. It’s not hard to see the fire sprinkler system in every room, but how does one know it’s in good working order? The answer is routine inspections.
Effectiveness of Fire Sprinkler Systems
Sprinkler systems are so effective at preventing loss of life that the National Fire Protection Association states that they have no record of a fire killing more than 2 people in a building with proper sprinkler coverage where the system was properly operating. Because fire sprinkler systems release less water per minute than a fire hose, there is less chance of the building sustaining water damage. Sprinklers release between 8 and 24 gallons compared to the 80-125 gallons from a fire hose.
Special Considerations for Fire Prevention in Data Centers
Data centers hold much of the world’s important information and they keep businesses and systems running. For these reasons, NFPA 75 is a special code written to meet the unique needs of data centers. It outlines the minimum requirements to protect IT equipment and surrounding areas from fire and the effects of fire, which include corrosion from smoke and of course, heat and water. The requirements for fire detection and suppression take into consideration the risk of taking computers off line and the interruption of business as a result, as well as the type of equipment and how far above or below ground the data center is located. According to the Gartner Group, spending on fire prevention and suppression and monitoring is expected to reach $149 billion globally this year.
Importance of Fire Sprinkler Inspections
No matter how state of the art the sprinkler system was when installed, if not properly maintained and inspected, a property manager is leaving a lot to chance. Proper fire sprinkler inspections can identify broken heads, pipes, and improper water pressure. In addition, fire protection companies who perform these inspections should provide a thorough report.
Property managers of hotels, hospitals and large office buildings have a lot of people counting on their careful and attentiveness to fire prevention and suppression. Thorough fire sprinkler inspections that ensure good working order of all fire detection and suppression systems could reduce by 50% any loss of life, injuries and property damage due to fires in the buildings they manage.
Reputable fire sprinkler companies are able to create systems that can adequately protect any property. A large hotel will have vastly different fire safety needs than a residence would. Proper fire safety design takes these variables into consideration when designing the ideal sprinkler system.
Properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler systems are able to detect and supress any outbreak of fire. They may not be there to fully extinguish the blaze, but they do give any occupants the ability to escape safely by controlling the fire.