The importance of having fire alarm systems installed in businesses and residential buildings cannot be stressed enough. Furthermore, fire alarm inspections need to be conducted on a regular basis to protect employees, customers, property, and building structures. When regular inspections are conducted, fire alarm repairs can be attended to immediately.
Fire Locations and Statistical Overview
While fires obviously occur elsewhere, high-rise fires occur in these types of properties:
- Apartment buildings
- Hotels and motels
- Office buildings
- Hospitals and other medical facilities
On an annual basis, hotel and motel fires alone lead to approximately 150 injuries and 15 deaths. Property loss tends to range around $76 million.
There were a considerable number of structural fires that occurred at health care properties from 2006 to 2010. United States fire departments responded to an approximate average of 6,240 structural fires located in these facilities or their surrounding grounds. In 2010, however, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) responded to 1,200 hospital fires.
Causes of Fires in Medical Facilities
There are a variety of causes for fires breaking out in medical facilities. Confined cooking fires, however, are responsible for 55% of these outbreaks. The major cause of non-confined hospital fires is electrical malfunction, which accounts for 19% of the fires located in these facilities.
The Decline in Warehouse Fires
Over the past 30 years, there has been a substantial decline in warehouse fires. In 1980, for example, there were 4,700 warehouse fires, and in 2011, there were 1,200.
For every 1,000 incidents, warehouse fires have a lower-than-average injury rate. They do, however, tend to have a high average property loss given their purpose as storage facilities.
The Importance of Having Combined Systems
Injuries, fatalities, and property damage could be reduced when buildings have a combination of early warning systems and automatic sprinklers. It has been estimated that this could decrease the incidence of fires spreading by a minimum of 50%.
When fires are detected and reported to the fire department 10 to 15 minutes prior to the incipient stage’s end, damage can usually be limited. This is regardless of the location of the fire as well as the suppression system activation.
The NFPA reported that they do not have any records of fires causing more than 2 fatalities when completely sprinklered buildings had an operational system. Quick responses sprinklers are able to release 8 to 24 gallons of water per minute. Fire hoses, on the other hand, release 80 to 125 gallons per minute. Another benefit of having quick response sprinklers is that they do not cause the same level of water damage as fire hoses.
The Importance of Fire Evacuation Plans
A recent survey was conducted with 119 businesses, and it was found that just 35% had a fire evacuation plan. In order to ensure that employees know how to proceed if a fire should occur, it is important to create an evacuation plan and to have regular drills. Furthermore, depending on the nature of the business, it is also important that the plan includes measures to assist clients, customers, and patients.
There should also be on-site personnel that are trained to respond to fires. When there are specific staff designated for this purpose, it can make a significant difference in detecting and responding to fires. When these individuals are trained in a broad range of fire scenarios, they will know when to contact the fire department as well. If they are able to provide a response within 3 minutes prior to the fire’s incipient stage end, then it is more likely that the fire can be contained.
The Importance of Regular Inspections and Maintenance
A lack of maintenance is often the cause of dry and/or wet chemical system failures. This has been shown to be the case in approximately 44% of these situations.
When apartment buildings, hotels and motels, office buildings, and medical facilities have fire alarm installations, it can potentially decrease the incidence of injuries, deaths, and property damage. Even though fire alarm installations are usually mandatory, this equipment can fall into disrepair when not regularly maintained.
Fire alarm installations, inspections, and maintenance can be handled by fire protection companies. In addition to handling fire alarm installations, fire protection companies can also provide valuable information on potential fire hazards that may exist within your building.