firefighting system

A firefighting system is probably the most important of the building services, as its aim is to protect human life and property, strictly in that order. Firefighting systems and equipment vary depending on the age, size, use and type of building construction.

A building may contain some or all of the following features:

  • fire extinguishers
  • fire hose reels
  • fire hydrant systems
  • Automatic sprinkler systems.

Fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are provided for a ‘first attack’ firefighting measure, generally undertaken by the occupants of the building before the fire service arrives. It is important that occupants are familiar with which extinguisher type to use on which fire. Most fires start as a small fire and may be extinguished if the correct type and amount of extinguishing agent is applied whilst the fire is small and controllable.

Fire hose reels
A fire hose is a high-pressure hose that carries water or other fire retardant to a fire to extinguish it. Outdoors, it attaches either to a fire engine or a fire hydrant. Indoors, it can permanently attach to a building’s standpipe or plumbing system. Fire hose reels are provided for use by occupants as a ‘first attack’ firefighting measure but May, in some instances, also be used by firefighters.

Fire hydrant systems
Fire hydrant systems are installed in buildings to help firefighters quickly attack the fire. Essentially, a hydrant system is a water reticulation system used to transport water in order to limit the amount of hose that firefighters have to lay, thus speeding up the firefighting process.
Fire hydrants are for the sole use of trained firefighters. Because of the high pressures available serious injury can occur if untrained persons attempt to operate the equipment connected to such installations.

Automatic Sprinkler Systems
A fire sprinkler system is an active fire protection method, consisting of a water supply system, providing adequate pressure and flow rate to a water distribution
piping system, onto which fire sprinklers are connected. Although historically only used in factories and large commercial buildings, systems for homes and small buildings are now available at a cost-effective price. Fire sprinkler systems are extensively used worldwide, with over 40 million sprinkler heads fitted each year. In buildings completely protected by fire sprinkler systems, over 96% of fires were controlled by fire sprinklers alone.

fire pump
A fire pump is a part of a fire sprinkler system’s water supply and powered by electric or diesel. The pump intake is either connected to the public underground water supply piping, or a static water source. The pump provides water flow at a higher pressure to the sprinkler system risers and hose standpipes. A fire pump is tested and listed for its use specifically for fire service by a third-party testing and listing agency, such as UL or FM Global. The main code that governs fire pump installations in North America is the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 20 Standard for the Installation of Stationary Fire Pumps for Fire Protection.

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