How Corrosion Can Impact a Fire Protection System

Learn about the effects of corrosion and what you can do to protect the safety of your building

Corrosion can have a serious impact on the effectiveness of your building’s fire protection system, and it can be very expensive to fix. This is why identifying and minimizing it are key parts of maintaining a system in a safe and cost-effective manner. Learn more about the dangers of corrosion for fire sprinkler systems and what you can do to prevent it:

Corrosion can seriously affect the integrity of a sprinkler system

Corrosion, or the reaction between a metal alloy and its environment, is an irreversible process which causes “gradual deterioration of metal surface by water, moisture or other corrosive chemicals.” Different fire protection systems are susceptible to different types of corrosion, however, wet sprinkler systems are more common and almost exclusively used in South Florida – so wet system corrosion is usually the main concern of building owners and operators in the Sunshine State.

One of the costliest effects of corrosion is how it can negatively affect the integrity of sprinkler piping systems. Accumulated corrosion in pipes can cause leaks and limit the flow of water, making sprinkler systems less effective, and sometimes even completely obstructing water to a sprinkler when it’s most needed – during a fire.

Oxygen is the primary cause of serious corrosion in wet sprinkler systems

Trapped air in wet sprinkler systems provides a source of oxygen that can cause corrosion, meaning that reducing air pockets is essential to lower the chance of damage to the piping. There are a variety of methods used to mitigate oxygen corrosion, including the regular usage of an air-release valve or air vents, using nitrogen as a supervisory gas, and limiting the infusion of oxygen-heavy freshwater into the piping system. Employing an air-release valve may also have other benefits, including reduced water delivery time and reduced alarm ring delays.

Microbiological growth is another cause of sprinkler system corrosion

A report (document) by the National Fire Protection Association states that microbiological growth is an increasing concern for fire sprinkler systems. Instead of typical corrosion, which usually develops somewhat evenly over longer periods of time, microbiological growth is more concentrated and accelerated – meaning that it can grow very quickly in a small area of piping to create a large obstruction or a small pinhole in the piping, which can severely impact the efficacy of the entire system. According to the NFPA, there are many examples of systems with feed mains over 60% obstructed from biological growth, and in some cases, thousands of pounds of debris can even accumulate in medium-sized piping.

There is often no indication of a problem until a leak or a fire occurs

One of the most insidious aspects of fire system piping corrosion is that building owners, managers, operators, and sometimes even less-thorough inspectors have no idea that there is any problem until a leak occurs. When a leak or other serious problem happens in the system randomly, the building’s owners and occupants are actually quite lucky – if it occurred during a fire, it could lead to building damage or injury.

Unfortunately, the problem may not be identified until during or after the emergency in cases where corrosion has caused unknown blockage or leakage of a fire sprinkler piping system, unless regular inspections are performed, including internal obstruction inspections that are a part of a 5-year inspection cycle.

This is just another reason why high-quality inspection, proper maintenance, and sometimes replacement of components of a fire protection apparatus are necessary. At LifeSafety Management, we understand that corrosion is just one of many threats facing the integrity and effectiveness of your building’s life safety systems.

If you have questions about the safety of your building, or think that you might need some of your safety and security systems updated or replaced, we have the knowledge and expertise to help. Contact us today at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.

Explaining the Recent Legislation Around 9-Volt Smoke Detectors

A new Florida law has left many fire departments confused

Last year, Florida legislators passed a new law intended to save building contractors money and drive the use of longer-lasting smoke detectors, but it’s ended up impacting local fire department’s efforts to provide inexpensive fire safety measures to at-risk populations around Florida.

What does the new law say?

Statute 553.883 says that family homes undergoing minor construction work can install required smoke alarms powered by 10-year lithium batteries instead of more costly, hard-wired alarms, but it also goes on to say that these longer-life alarms “must be installed.” While lobbyists and builders say that the law was only intended to apply to contractors and construction companies, fire departments across the state interpreted it as prohibiting them from handing out cheaper 9-volt battery smoke detectors for free, including to poor and elderly residents who are most at risk from inadequate fire safety.

What’s the difference between 9-volt battery and lithium powered smoke detectors?

While 9-volt battery smoke detectors have a shorter life, they are also considerably less expensive, at around $5, compared to 10-year lithium powered detectors, which cost around $30 each. For local fire departments, which depend on limited government funds to protect residents, cheaper is usually better, as they can protect more people with less money.

What’s happening now?

With mixed information coming from legislators, lobbyists, and state officials, some fire departments are continuing to give out the remaining 9-volt smoke detectors to local residents, while others are keeping them on their shelves. Most plan to begin buying the approved smoke detectors soon. Some fire departments are asking for federal funding to accommodate the increased costs of the equipment as they wait for a final and complete response from the government.

What does this mean for residents or businesses undergoing construction or renovations?

As a homeowner, business owner, or contractor involved in a renovation or construction project, it’s important that you use 10-year lithium batteries or a hard-wired alarm system. Unlike the issues with local fire departments, there is no confusion over the responsibilities of contractors, as this is specifically the group that the law intended to address.

If you have questions about this law or other Florida regulations that may affect the safety and security of your home or business, contact LifeSafety Management today at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.

Access Must Be Provided to Units or Suites During Fire Alarm Inspections and Tests

State law gives condo associations right of access during reasonable hours

Whether you live in, own, or manage a condo, fire safety inspections and fire alarm tests are an essential part of keeping you and the building safe. According to Chapters 718 and 719 of the Florida Statutes, a condo association has the “irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours” for the purpose of maintaining, repairing, or inspecting parts of the unit that are maintained by the association to prevent damage to the unit or to the building as whole.

This means that when your building has a fire alarm inspection – you need to give inspectors access. And if you own or manage a condo, you have the right to demand access to ensure the effectiveness of your building’s life safety systems and the safety of occupants.

What you need to do if you live in or own a condo

While the Florida Statutes do not specifically mention whether you are required to provide a key to your condo association in order for it to access your unit for repairs, maintenance, or inspection, it’s a good idea to provide one anyway. Inability to access your unit for repairs, especially if you’ve been notified ahead of time, could be an expensive mistake.

For example, if a condo association has hired a company to repair or inspect the entire building, they may charge you an additional fee or fine if a contractor or technician has to come back to the building on a separate occasion for the sole purpose of inspecting your unit.

Why regular inspections are essential for condo safety

If you live in a condo, regular fire and life safety systems inspections are extremely important. Considering the fact that condos have tens and sometimes hundreds of units, there are many individual devices to test. These may include water sprinklers, fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other equipment installed to keep residents safe.

For example, in a 25-story condo with more than 100 units, even if most of the water sprinklers work, all it takes is one or two units with malfunctioning sprinklers for a potentially dangerous fire to spread in the building, endangering both lives and the property. Additionally, in such a large structure, it is of utmost importance that all the fire alarms work correctly – if the alarms do not work on a few floors, many residents may not hear them.

There are a variety of other unique considerations when planning for the safety of condos, especially large ones, making it all the more important that qualified inspectors have access to every unit in order to conduct a thorough inspection of all safety equipment and technology.

At LifeSafety Management, we understand the specific risks inherent in every type of structure, and we have the experience to help you defend against a variety of threats. If you think your building’s life safety or security systems may need repairs, inspections, or maintenance, at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.

How Video Analytics Can Take a CCTV System to the Next Level

Intelligent video monitoring can detect threats and act as a force multiplier for your building’s security

Video monitoring is becoming an increasingly popular method to increase security for a variety of businesses – but what good is video if no one’s watching? Many businesses don’t have the resources required to pay security personnel to monitor video feeds 24/7.

There is a solution. Intelligent video monitoring software can do much of the work, augmenting or even replacing some of the need for human personnel. Each year, more and more businesses are using this technology to keep their facilities secure. Take a look at how video analytics can benefit yours:

Intelligent video monitoring and movement tracking

Intelligent video monitoring can track movement across restricted spaces and areas, notifying security personnel or business owners when an area has unauthorized activity or has otherwise been breached. This is especially helpful in large facilities such as warehouses, large corporate offices, or manufacturing plants, where small or remote security teams are required to monitor tens of thousands of square feet of space.

Video analytics can prevent piggybacking

A major risk for facilities is piggybacking: one or more individuals gaining unauthorized access to an area by closely following and using the security access of an authorized person. Piggybacking may occur with the authorized person’s permission or not; for example, an unauthorized vehicle closely following another one through an automated security gate may occur without the authorized driver’s knowledge.

It’s also all too easy for someone to intentionally allow an unauthorized individual into an area with the intention of committing theft, vandalism, or other mayhem. This is a specific concern in high traffic structures, such as large corporate buildings or high rise condominiums.

Video analytics can help you better understand your business

Video analytics and intelligent video monitoring can also provide a range of essential information and statistics to your business, including counting the number of people who enter and exit your building at different times in the day. This helps you and your security team spot theft, and software can also identify suspicious patterns of activity and proactively alert personnel to actually prevent incidents.

Intelligent video capabilities are constantly advancing, and the some of the latest technologies even include software algorithms designed to detect aggression in the body language of individuals in order to head off violence before it happens.

Video analytics can also help you increase your business’s efficiency; if you operate a retail business or any type of company that deals with a lot of customers in person, it can spur analysis of the amount of people coming in and out of your store and office. The technology can also identify inefficient work patterns by employees and assist you in developing and tracking strategies to correct them.

If you want to learn more about how new technologies like video analytics can feature into your building’s security system, or you require any inspections, maintenance, or analysis of any of your life safety systems, contact LifeSafety Management. Call us at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation with our experienced team of professionals.

Changes to Florida Code Address Extended Cycle Fire Sprinkler Inspections and Tests

Regular check-ups will keep your system working right

Owners of fire sprinkler systems are often very familiar in the annual, semi-annual, and quarterly requirements of inspecting and testing their fire sprinkler system – and that’s a good thing.

According to a report by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA),“US Experience With Sprinklers,” properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler systems save lives and result in far less damage to property. Statistics from 2013 indicate:

  • The fire death rate per 1,000 reported home structure fires was lower by 82%;
  • The rate of property damage per reported home structure fire was lower by 68%.

Often, however, the owners of fire sprinkler systems are unaware of the additional inspection and testing requirements that are needed on more extended cycles that occur every three, five, twenty, or even fifty years based on the age of the components of the system.

The impact of age

Just as with humans, age isn’t necessarily kind to fire sprinkler systems. Over the years, dust and dirt accumulate, seals weaken, corrosion builds, and residue can build up in water pipes. The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) reports that “test data has shown that the performance of some sprinklers is definitely impacted as a function of the time the sprinkler has been in service.”

There have long been requirements in NFPA 25, the Standard for the Inspection, Testing & Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, to inspect and test fire sprinkler system components on these extended cycles – but frequently, these extended cycle inspection and tests get overlooked and are not performed.

Nearly every type of fire sprinkler system has components that necessitate the inspection and testing on these extended cycles, especially every five years. Extended cycle inspections and tests are extremely important for verifying the integrity of the system and assuring it will continue to operate within the parameters for which it was originally designed.

The five-year rule

The most common extended cycle test, the five-year inspection, has requirements to internally inspect the condition of the system piping, verify that gauges are within calibration to ensure proper system performance readings, perform interior inspection of check valves and flow test pressure reducing valves, and a number of other requirements. All of these inspections and tests are there to ensure the system will work when it is needed and that issues can be addressed proactively.

Because a fire sprinkler system has a number of components, an analysis is often required of the complete system to determine exactly what tests are needed and the costs associated with performing those activities.

Florida addresses the issue

The newest version of Florida Administrative Code 69A-46, adopted in July 2016, includes verbiage that specifically addresses the requirements for these extended cycle tests.

For systems that have not had three- or five-year requirements performed, the system will be tagged as being “non-critically deficient.” And those systems that have not had field service testing of sprinklers performed (typically a twenty- and fifty-year requirement) will be tagged as being “critically deficient.” This is a new requirement by the Florida Administrative Code that will now actively bring attention to the lack of these extended cycle inspections by placing a different type of tag on the system that may not otherwise have notable deficiencies.

As a licensed Fire Protection Contractor, LifeSafety Management can provide you with the information needed to see if your system requires one of these extended cycle inspections. In the event that one is needed, we can perform the required activities to ensure your system is compliant and operating as it was designed.

Contact LifeSafety Management at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form to set up a free assessment by our experienced team of professionals.

An Introduction to Fire Alarm Systems

Learn about the components and types of fire alarm systems that protect lives and property

Fire alarm systems are perhaps the most essential elements of any building’s life safety systems. Not only do they save countless lives every year, they often regulate other systems in the building and property owners save huge amounts of money by reducing damage to their structures. Let’s review the components of different fire alarm systems and how each can influence safety and function.

What are the main components of a fire alarm system?

A fire alarm system has three main components: the fire alarm control panel (FACP), the input device or devices (also known as initiation devices) – such as a pull station, a smoke detector, or a water flow switch on a sprinkler system – and a notification device, such as a horn, speaker, bell, or siren.

The importance of fire alarm control panels

Fire alarm control panels are the “brain” of the fire alarm system that allow personnel to activate or deactivate the entire system at will. FACPs are manufactured in a variety of shapes, sizes, and formats depending on the manufacturer and the panel’s intended scope of use. The smallest are intended to cover only small rooms or structures, while the largest panels may be designed to cover large networks of multiple buildings.

Manual vs. automatic initiation devices

Manual devices, like pull stations, must be activated by a person. Variations include single action (pull one handle to activate), dual action (push-in and pull-down a handle or lift/break glass and then pull handle), and institutional (must insert a key to activate; often used in settings like jails). The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that all of these devices must be accessible to people in wheelchairs.

Automatic devices, unlike their manual counterparts, do not need a person’s input. HVAC duct smoke detectors are designed to detect smoke and activate when a certain level is reached. Heat detectors will automatically activate if the temperature around them rises too quickly in a certain period of time or if the overall temperature reaches a set range.

Other popular automatic devices include beam smoke detectors and fire sprinkler water flow switches. Beam smoke detectors cover large areas such as atriums and will automatically activate if the laser beam between the transmitter and receiver is obscured, while water flow switches automatically detect water movement in the sprinkler pipes. Other types of detectors include laser detectors, video detectors, flame detectors, line type detectors, air sample detectors, gas detectors, spark/ember detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.

Notification devices

Notification devices are intended to alert building occupants of a fire and allow them to vacate the building or take other emergency action. Once a fire alarm signal is received by the FACP, the panel will sound or beep locally. The FACP then activates the notification devices connected to it, which many include horns, sirens, bells, lights, warning signs, or pre-recorded messages on fire alarm speakers. For larger buildings or networks of buildings, mass notification systems can also be incorporated into the system.

Fire alarm control functions

Depending on its individual functionality, a fire alarm system is often the heart of a structure’s entire life safety apparatus. In large buildings, the fire alarm is the core of all the emergency systems and must interface with many of the building’s mechanical systems, including:

  • Controlling the elevators and locking them out for first responder use only
  • Shutting down HVAC units to prevent the spread of smoke
  • Unlocking security doors to allow exit from the building (and access for first responders)
  • Controlling mechanical evacuation systems to vent smoke
  • Providing notification to occupants about to the location of the fire and what exits should be used to evacuate
  • Shutting off natural gas lines to kitchens to prevent explosions
  • Shutting off sound systems so that emergency messages can be communicated

Types of fire alarm systems

According to the National Fire Protection Association Handbook, there are four main types of fire alarm systems:

1. A local system is located at a property and is not monitored by a central station. Any alarm will only notify the property’s occupants, meaning that an individual would need to call 911 for help in an emergency.

2. A proprietary system is located at a property and is only monitored by the local occupants and staff, which includes a group of first responders.

3. A remote system is located at the property but is monitored by a central station. An alarm signal would be sent to the central station and they notify first responders.

4. A central station is located at a property, it is monitored by a central station, and it has a service contract with a company for all its repairs, tests, and inspections.

Is your system really a fire alarm system? And is it properly connected?

It’s important to note that just because your building has a red box on the wall doesn’t mean that it’s a true fire alarm. Some buildings are allowed to have fire alarm system panels that simply monitor the fire sprinklers in a building, as well as a smoke detector. Other buildings may only have an elevator recall panel – but since this is intended only for elevator recall, this is not a true fire alarm system either. Extinguishing systems for computer rooms may also be easily mistaken for fire alarm systems.

It’s also essential to make sure your system can communicate with monitoring stations, so that if telephone lines, Internet access, cell-phone towers, or radio networks are not operational, it will still function correctly. No matter what type of fire alarm you have in place, it’s important to make sure that it’s the right setup for your structure, and that it’s consistently maintained, repaired, and inspected to protect your property and people.

If you have questions about your fire alarm, or you think your life safety systems need to be updated, repaired, inspected, or replaced, contact LifeSafety Management at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form to set up a free assessment by our experienced team of professionals.

Surge Suppression Mitigates Severe Storm Damage

Learn how to minimize damage to your commercial building from lightning strikes

While you may have a surge suppressor on some of your computers and other electrical items, you may not realize just how much damage lightning can do to other, more expensive and integral equipment in a commercial facility – including your life safety systems.

What happens when lightning strikes?

Florida averages roughly 1.4 million lightning strikes a year, and a single bolt of lightning can generate heat of up to 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit and millions of volts of electricity. Lightning that hits a structure during a severe storm can send a massive current throughout the electrical infrastructure of a building. And if your electronics are not adequately protected with surge suppressors at proper, centralized locations, you could be left with catastrophic damage to vital equipment.

How can lightning affect your fire alarm system?

When business owners are thinking of the different types of equipment that must be protected from severe storms, few consider their fire safety apparatus. But a surge can destroy a life safety system – fire alarms have dedicated circuits which, if left unprotected, could malfunction in the event of an emergency and cost approximately $30,000 to $40,000 in repairs.

Surge suppression and risk assessments will protect your building

Surge suppression is an important service LifeSafety Management provides to our South Florida customers. We install surge suppressors in all of our life safety solutions, hidden away in the junction boxes and fire alarm boxes of the system. With adequate, proactive surge suppression, damage from a severe lightning strike can be drastically reduced, limiting your financial risk.

We also conduct a thorough risk assessment of your building’s electrical vulnerabilities. A lightning specialist and a grounding specialist will inspect the structure and its components to identify any issues and propose safeguards.

We typically recommend and install surge suppressors from Ditek, which offers a wide range of solutions covering everything from life safety systems to surge protection of the telephone lines leading into your fire alarm panel. Ditek has provided a full suite of surge suppressors for more than 25 years, and continually innovates its products to meet the unique needs of different commercial customers.

Lightning is attracted to electronics in most commercial buildings

Commercial buildings typically contain extensive security camera systems, computer networks, and wireless access points in addition to fire alarm systems, all of which tend to attract lightning. Don’t leave this equipment vulnerable to catastrophic electrical damage by failing to have proactive (and typically inexpensive) surge suppression measures in place. Being prepared will save a huge amount of money in the long run, especially given the frequency of thunder storms in South Florida.

Contact LifeSafety Management at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form to set up a free risk assessment by our experienced team of professionals.

Fire Pumps are the Heart of the Fire Sprinkler System

Is yours properly tested and maintained?

If there is one component that could be considered the heart of a building’s fire safety system, it’s the fire pump. This apparatus drives adequate pressure and additional water volume to the fire protection system, including fire sprinklers, the first defense against fire, and they simply won’t work correctly unless enough water is readily available. Properly maintaining and testing the system’s fire pump needs to be a priority for building owners who want to keep occupants and property safe from harm in the event of an emergency.

High buildings are at higher risk from faulty pumps

Taller buildings are especially vulnerable to fire without a fully-functioning fire pump. The water that feeds a sprinkler system needs to travel up tens and sometimes hundreds of feet to reach the upper floors in a matter of seconds.

While city water pressure may be enough to operate sprinklers on smaller structures, a high rise relies on a powerful fire pump. And the equipment demands regular testing, inspection, and essential maintenance to ensure that pressure and flow are adequate to reach the top of the building.

The A-B-Cs of a fire pump inspection

During an inspection, a professional will assess the overall condition of the fire pump to verify that it remains in good operating condition. This checklist includes:

  • Performing a visual inspection of system components in the pump room to make sure that mechanical components haven’t degraded over time
  • Performing a flow test of the pump at rated and peak flow volumes
  • Comparing results of the tests to previous tests and the original design criteria
  • Ensuring that pump components are properly lubricated

A fire pump that is powered by a diesel engine requires regular maintenance and service to its engine on an annual basis or after every 50 hours of service, whichever is less. This includes replacement of the oil, oil filter, air filter, and fuel filter. This engine maintenance is very similar to the service you perform on your car to ensure it has a healthy life span.

Neglecting a fire pump can be expensive

Failure to maintain a fire pump will minimize its useful life; the typical lifespan of the equipment is about 20 years. And replacing a fire pump costs a lot of money, as it’s the single-most expensive component of any fire protection system.

Be sure that your pump and sprinklers are compliant and working

Making certain that your fire pump is operational is essential to the safety of your building’s occupants. Sprinkler systems save countless lives every year, as well as prevent huge financial losses due to fire damage.

If you have questions about your building’s fire pump, sprinklers, or other life safety systems, or need assistance inspecting, maintaining, or retrofitting them, contact LifeSafety Management at (800) 330-1158 or through our online form today.

Don’t Allow Anyone to Put Your Monitored Fire Alarm System on Test Without Notice

Is improper testing putting you and your building at risk?

Fire alarm systems are critical – and complex – components of commercial buildings that need to function correctly to alert both occupants and emergency services agencies about a fire. Regular testing is necessary to ensure that they work when it counts. And essential to proper testing is for property managers to know when and how it will occur, and the preparation of back-up procedures in the event that a real emergency occurs during a test.

The basics of putting an alarm “on test”

To perform any fire alarm or sprinkler test, the account must be placed “on test” with the central monitoring station. This ensures that the fire department and other first responders are not dispatched to a non-threatening alert. False alarms cost emergency services agencies significant resources, and building owners may be subject to fines in cases when personnel are sent to a structure that’s not in danger.

With over two million false alarm calls in 2012, it’s no surprise that government jurisdictions have decided to penalize individuals and businesses that incorrectly notify first responders of a fire.

The dangers of putting a fire alarm “on test” without prior knowledge

While building owners and managers should do everything in their power to reduce false alarms, they should also be extremely careful about when and how they – or the contractor who is responsible for the test – place a fire alarm into “on test” status. You never want anyone to trigger this mode without prior knowledge, as doing so means that the central station will ignore all “alarm, trouble, and supervisory” signals from the property for a set period of time, and will not dispatch emergency personnel.

When a system is in test, the alarm will still sound to alert occupants about a fire, but it will not effectively notify first responders. For this reason, it’s critical to prepare alternate methods that send an external alert whenever testing is conducted.

Allowing anyone to test the system without prior knowledge also creates the possibility for unauthorized contractors or untrained staff to disable the life safety system, ultimately putting everyone in the building at risk and resulting in massive liability should any type of emergency occur. And in certain scenarios, putting a system “on test” could open the door for individuals to intentionally damage property by setting fires or breaking sprinkler heads to cause flooding.

Have standards in place to test your fire alarm

Testing your fire alarm system is crucial to your building’s safety – and it should be done with tight restrictions on who performs it, when it’s completed, and what measures are in place to make sure that people and property are protected if an emergency happens. And the procedure should never be initiated without first notifying the building owner or other critical management personnel.

If your current fire alarm testing is disorganized or the process seems confusing, LifeSafety Management can help. We would be happy to outline the right protocols and how we can guarantee that testing and maintenance are conducted correctly, every time. To consult with one of our fire safety experts, reach out to our office today at (800) 330-1158 or through our online contact form.

Just the Facts: How Fire Extinguishers Protect Lives and Property

These defense tools prevent more tragedy and expense than you might realize

Everyone knows that fire extinguishers are an essential part of any life safety system, but few people realize just how important they are – and which types of extinguishers are best for dealing with different hazards and environments. Certain technologies are more effective on some fires than others, and it pays to know which are the most appropriate for specific emergencies.

How well do extinguishers put out fires?

If a fire is caught in its early stages, fire extinguishers can be remarkably effective. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), they were reported to have put out 5.32 million fires in 2010 alone.

A UK study performed by FETA (Fire Extinguishing Trades Association) and IFEDA (Independent Fire Engineering and Distributors Association) in 2002 found that portable fire extinguishers successfully put out 80% of all fires, and, in 75% of those cases, the fire department did not need to render assistance.

How much money do extinguishers save?

It’s difficult to determine an accurate total, as almost 2 million fires are handled without the fire department being notified. According to the NFPA, 83% of reported fires in primarily commercial buildings that had sprinkler systems never grew large enough to activate the sprinklers, inferring that they were put out by occupants. Given these statistics and the fact that a commercial fire averages $35,000 in damage claims, fire extinguishers save billions of dollars, and by some estimates up to about $5 billion per year.

Types of fire extinguishers

It’s key to understand which extinguishers will be the most effective at putting out different fires on your property. Here are the major technologies:

  • Dry chemical extinguishers are best suited for situations and environments where a fire can be put out quickly and there are no materials present that could re-ignite it.
  • Clean agent extinguishers use gasses that are non-conduction and leave little-to-no residue, and they are usually selected for the protection of delicate electronics. They’re routinely found in data centers and server rooms.
  • Foam extinguishers are intended for flammable liquid spill fires or pool fires, as foam extinguishing agents spread across the surface of a liquid, preventing the flammable vapors from coming into contact with more oxygen.
  • Wet chemical extinguishers put out cooking oil fires; the chemicals contained in them react with the fats in oil to form a foam that smothers the blaze.
  • Water extinguishers: Specialized types of water extinguishers may be used for blazes involving wood, sawdust, or trash areas, or for putting out electronics fires.
  • Dry powder  extinguishers are the most effective option when a fire involves metals like magnesium, sodium, potassium, and sodium-potassium alloys. Heat from the fire leads the powder to form a crust that smothers it.

The first line of defense is still your best line of defense

No matter what kind of fires you may need to protect your property from, a fire extinguisher is an essential asset that can save your life, as well as thousands of dollars in property damage. If you need to determine the proper types and placement of extinguishers in your building, or meet the requirements for inspections, maintenance, or installation of any component of your life safety system, reach out to the experts of LifeSafety Management at (800) 330-1158 or through our online contact form.