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Fire Extinguishers and Sprinkler Systems

The best way to fight fire is with prevention.

The best way to fight fire is with prevention.

Despite your best efforts in prevention, fire remains a very real risk for virtually any residential or commercial property. In previous blog posts, we have discussed fire hazards in office buildings, to help you identify and prevent potential fire hazards from leading to costly fires. But if a fire breaks out, in spite of your efforts to thwart one, much of the damage can be slowed or stopped if you prepare by obtaining fire equipment such as a complete sprinkler system and accessible fire extinguishers.

According to NFPA research, the chances of an individual dying in a fire protected by the right equipment are reduced by 50-75%, and the average property loss per fire is cut by one-third to two-thirds (34-68%), compared to fires in buildings where sprinklers are not present. In 2008, there were 112,000 fires nationally in non-residential structures which caused a total of more than $3.8 billion in damages. Don’t let your building become another statistic. Instead, ensure that you have the right equipment on hand.

Fire Sprinkler Systems:

  • The two main types are wet and dry sprinkler systems. Both use water. However, many people prefer the “dry” system, since water isn’t stored in pipes, so it won’t freeze. It features pressurized air or nitrogen which allows water in via a valve. With a Wet System, pressurized water sits in pipes at all times.
  • Proper installation is the key to ensure building protection.
    • The spray pattern of each nozzle needs to be sufficient to cover all areas.
    • A minimum of a 30-minute water supply should be available. A back-up supply is advisable for larger systems. Don’t forget that, in the event of a fire, you and the fire department will be using the same water supply.
    • Choose the right temperature rating of sprinkler to match the expected ceiling temperature of the fire. This is important because proper water temp will prevent costly accidental discharges. Sprinkler bulbs are color coded to match different temperatures. Your installers should check with applicable NFPA codes to be sure the right bulbs are in use.
    • Once the sprinklers are installed, make sure they are properly maintained.
      • All the hose connections should be checked frequently for corrosion and misalignment.
      • OSHA recommends that a main drain flow test be performed annually.
      • Boxes and other materials should not be stacked close to sprinkler heads so they won’t block water coverage.

Fire Extinguishers:

  • Tenants and building management should understand that extinguishers should only be used for small fires that are not producing toxic smoke. Assisting in evacuation efforts and personal safety should always come before attempting to use extinguishers.
  • All able-bodied tenants should be instructed on basic fire extinguisher usage.
  • Fire extinguisher location is important to ensure adequate floor-by-floor coverage.
  • Extinguishers come in several “classes,” including A, B, C, D, and K. Each type of extinguisher is used for a certain type of fire. This is especially important for any tenants that have lots of electronics equipment or use certain chemicals.
  • Check yearly updates from the NFPA on fire extinguisher standards.
  • Extinguisher locations should be clearly marked. Extinguishers should be visible and for pressure should be verified.

    The Best Way to Fight Fire is Prevention

    The Best Way to Fight Fire is Prevention

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

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