The two most common causes of extensive fire damage are:
1. No installed fire alarm and fire system protection.
2. Installed fire alarm did not work.
Having a working fire alarm system is crucial in every fire incident. It could save lives, prevent the fire from spreading and minimise the damage. A fire alarm works by alerting the people that a fire has started. When smoke gets into the smoke alarm, it sends out high-pitched alarm signals to let people know that there's a fire.
Therefore, not only is it important to have fire alarms installed, it is also important to make sure they are working. There have been several cases wherein the fire alarms did not go off or not working, and this caused the damage to blow up. There are also cases when people died.
So what are the common causes of faulty fire alarms?
Dirty Fire Alarms.
Smoke detectors and fire alarms are stationary. Once they are installed in a certain place, it will be difficult to move unless there is renovations going on. So they just stay there on the wall or on the ceiling, gathering all kinds of debris. These materials tamper with the sensitivity of the device, causing faulty detection. Some of the common materials that tamper with detectors include dust, dirt, lint and small insects.
When these materials buildup, it either increases the incidence of false alarms or reduces the sensitivity of the device. If you don't do regular maintenance of your fire alarms, the problem could snowball and leave your alarms useless in the long run.
Very High Ceilings
One of the most common places where fire alarms are installed is the ceiling. However, high ceilings can pose a problem for heat detectors and smoke alarms? Why? The fire alarm is located in a very high place and it would take a long time for the smoke to reach the top. Plus, the heat from the fire cools down as it rises, making it difficult for fire alarms to detect it.
There is also the stratification phenomenon where a pocket of smoke just hovers below the ceiling, thus not reaching the alarm. Fire alarms installed on the ceiling are also hard to maintain and clean.
Wrong Fire System Installed
Building codes determine what type of fire system and how many fire protection equipment should be installed, depending on the type of building. The building code was designed to provide a minimum level of safety to the building. This is important especially for building owners, managers and builders who have no idea what type of business is going to occupy the place. A building owner or manager should be aware of who will use the space and adapt to have the proper and suitable fire protection system installed. For example, a space occupied by a restaurant will have a different level of fire protection needs from that of a space occupied by a bank or an office.
Fire protection systems should be regularly maintained to keep them 100% working. However, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions in cleaning the equipment to make sure you don’t damage the alarms. Aside from dusting and cleaning up the fire alarms, the occupants should also check if test the fire alarms by pushing the Test button.
If you’re doing the monthly test of your fire alarms, you’ll know when the battery is poor or not functioning. In this case, you have to replace the battery. You should also schedule an annual change of battery to make sure they are replaced regularly.
About the Author
Managing Director at Control Fire Protection
Control Fire Protection is an industry leader and provider of complete fire protection services in New South Wales.