Fire Protection and Overview of Life Safety Systems

Fire Protection and Overview of Life Safety Systems

Fire protection is a complex system and can be very difficult to understand, especially when you’re just getting started. There are many different aspects of fire protection that you have to consider.

I’ve detailed the most important things you need to know on this page. You’ll also get an overview of life safety systems, while highlighting some of the key points to remember.


Fire Protection Fundamentals

Fire is a critical aspect of our lives, but when it gets out of control, it can cause severe damage to property and even death. To mitigate its effects, fire protection systems are critical. Regardless of the type of building we’re describing, its size or occupancy classification, we must protect the occupants from harm due to a fire event.

The fire triangle consists of three elements: oxygen, heat and fuel. Add one or more elements to the mix, and you’ll have what’s needed for a fire to occur. The prevention and control of fires relies on this basic principle—remove any one element from the triangle, and there can be no fire; in other words:

  • Lower the temperature below ignition point (flashpoint)
  • Remove oxygen (i.e., smothering – starve for air)
  • Prevent fuel supply (i.e., seal off combustibles)


Types of Fire Alarm Systems

In this module, you will learn the types of fire alarm systems and how they are classified.

Fire alarm systems are designed to provide audible and visual warning of a fire.

These systems use many different types of detection devices like: heat detectors, smoke detectors, rate-of-rise heat detectors, duct detector products, manual pull stations and water flow switches. Fire alarm system panels can be usually found in the main room on campus (usually administration).

 These panels communicate with all the remote devices (e.g., pull stations) that are placed throughout the building.

There are basically three types of fire alarm systems: manual, automatic or a combination of manual and automatic.

Automatic Sprinkler Systems

Automatic sprinkler systems are one of the main components of a life safety system. A sprinkler system is generally intended to suppress a fire while it is still in its incipient stage, before it spreads beyond the area of origin and creates endangering conditions for building occupants.

The automatic sprinkler system accomplishes this by supplying water at a rate that will control or suppress the fire, thus permitting the safe evacuation of building occupants and the arrival of emergency responders.


Sprinkler System Components

A typical automatic sprinkler system consists of several basic components:

  • Sprinklers: The device that discharges water to control or extinguish a fire.
  • Alarm Valves (or Alarm Check Valves): Part of the wet pipe sprinkler system that automatically opens upon activation to supply water for fire suppression purposes and also supplies water for testing and inspection requirements; also known as preaction valves when used with preaction systems.
  • Control Valves: Valve installed in an auxiliary line from a domestic water supply or other source that regulates flow into an alarm valve; often used as part of a dry pipe sprinkler system.
  • Piping Network: The network that distributes water throughout buildings’ floors via floor drains, sumps, and/or standpipes through which spray heads or sprinklers can be connected to activate; also includes alarm check valves (wet systems) or electric release valves (dry systems).


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