For a long time, integrating optimum fire safety equipment and mechanisms in commercial building design was a significant concern for architects and business owners. However, it is an indispensable part of the construction process in the modern era.
Fires can ignite suddenly and unpredictably and not only cause building damage but also compromise the safety of the occupants. However, with increased emphasis on integrating fire protection design in buildings, architects, engineers, and fire experts have developed strategies and plans that offer optimum safety from fire hazards.
Fire protection design for commercial structures considers the building’s occupancy, use, footprint, and other installed systems. It is a scientific system that is unique for every structure.
To develop a comprehensive fire protection design, experts consider all the separate elements of a building as a whole. A proper fire protection design is more than just code compliance and keeping the owner safe from legal complications.
When the following five factors are considered while designing a fire protection system for your commercial property, you can have confidence that your occupants and assets have the best protection possible.
Factors to Consider While Designing a Fire Protection System for a Commercial Structure
1. Basic Elements:
Listed below are the fundamental factors considered while designing a fire protection system:
- Saving the building
- Saving lives
- Preventing business downtime due to fire damage
There is no universal fire protection blueprint that can be applied to all commercial buildings. It all comes down to the purpose for which the building is being used. For example, a storage facility or warehouse will have different fire protection requirements than a multi-storey office building. However, every professionally designed fire protection system will include these key components:
- Fire suppression systems
- Fire detection tools
- Fire alarms
- An evacuation plan
All the components mentioned above work in tandem to efficiently detect, notify, contain, and extinguish a fire at its initial stages. To get the best fire protection design, it is best to work with fire experts from the first stage of building construction.
2. Compliance with Government Codes:
This is another crucial factor of fire protection. Codes are standard requirements you have to comply with to stay within a bandwidth. Without these codes in place, some can go overboard or some end up doing the bare minimum in the name of fire protection.
These regulations are like a checklist that ensures all commercial buildings have proper firefighting equipment to avoid mishaps.
3. Fire Detection Systems:
The current smoke detection systems available in the market do much more than trigger the alarm on sensing smoke. Modern smoke detectors can now differentiate the different levels of smoke.
Fire and smoke detectors are vital equipment included in all fire protection system designs. Other than smoke detectors, fire experts also use heat detectors to trigger the alarms before the smoke is produced.
The installation of smoke and fire detection systems depends on the occupancy of the building. Regardless, these intelligent systems will help you extinguish a fire in its initial stages before it gets out of control.
4. Fire Suppression Systems:
Sprinklers are the most widely used fire suppression systems in commercial and residential properties. It is mainly used in heavily occupied spaces. These sprinklers come attached with heat sensors that, when triggered, activate the sprinkler.
However, installing sprinklers is not always feasible, especially when electrical equipment is involved. Water from the sprinklers can damage the machines and start an electrical fire.
You can opt for alternatives like an eco-friendly foam deluge system, dry chemicals, and clean agent systems that use gaseous or chemical compounds for fire suppression in such situations.
5. Fire Alarms:
Fire alarms are mandatory for all commercial facilities to alert the occupants and emergency responders for an immediate response. Modern fire alarms can also alert the first responders and the fire department and provide more information than the older models.
Many of the systems now come with speakers apart from the bells. These speakers are often used during fire emergencies to inform and instruct the occupants about the situation. You can also play pre-recorded messages through the speaker when a fire breaks out or in any other emergency. Fire alarms are increasingly becoming a system for mass notification during such accidents and
Fire protection design is as essential as any other element in a building. Planning it in the initial stages of building construction will give you more room and system design options.
With proper fire protection in place, preventing a hazard would be simple and easy.