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The Ultimate Guide to Fire Suppression Systems

Posted on: February 24, 2021

Quick Facts That Highlight the Importance of Fire Suppression Systems

  • 57% of restaurant fires are caused by cooking equipment.
  • After cooking fires, the most common causes of fires in commercial buildings are heating systems, electrical systems, lighting systems, cigarettes, and arson.
  • One size does not fit all suppression needs. It is essential to have the proper system installed for record storage rooms, laboratories, data centers, telecommunications facilities, motor vehicles, energy production facilities, etc.

Different Types of Fire Suppression Systems

There are five primary types of fire suppression systems. These include:

All Types

FM200 – The FM200 is a gas fire suppression system and is widely considered the best fire suppression system available. When released, the pressurized nitrogen within the FM200 initiates a chemical reaction upon contact with a fire that extinguishes the flames.

Water Mist – Water mist fire suppression systems release a fine mist that evaporates on contact with the fire. This process starves the fire of oxygen and won’t flood the room with water.

Foam Deluge Systems – Foam deluge fire suppression systems are ideal for use when oil and other flammable chemicals are present. These propel a concentrated foam mixture that expands and starves the fire.

Chemical Foam – Chemical foam systems such as the Ansul or Amerex are ideal for commercial cooking operations. These emit a water-based agent that mixes with a chemical foam that smothers the flames.

Dry Chemical – Dry chemical fire suppression systems are pressurized with dry chemicals propelled from the system directly onto the fire. These systems usually operate before the fire is visible to the naked eye.

Purpose and Importance of Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems serve many functions. They starve the fire of oxygen and other fuel while also helping to cool the area and prevent the fire’s spread throughout the room and your facility. A properly selected, installed, and maintained fire suppression system would control or extinguish the fire, allowing you to evacuate personnel from the building before first responders arrive safely.

Where to Position Fire Suppression Systems

NFPA regulations and local building codes dictate where and how to position fire suppression systems based on your industry and the types of threats you may face. The PSI Integrated team can help you identify the best solution for storing suppression agents, positioning portable fire extinguishers, and more.

When to Use a Fire Suppression System

Fire suppression systems are designed to extinguish the flames before they can consume your building and cause harm to personnel. As such, you should immediately activate your fire suppression system at the first sign a fire is brewing up. This helps minimize damage and maximize system effectiveness.

How to Use a Fire Suppression System

Aside from portable fire extinguishers, the overwhelming majority of fire suppression systems are triggered by automatic release systems. When these systems detect a fire, they release their extinguishing agent without any input from personnel. That said, many also have manual triggers that you can and should use anytime an automatic trigger fails.

Steps to Protect Your Facility from Fire

Preventing fires is always a better option than cleaning one up. Fire prevention requires a multi-faceted approach to fire safety that includes:

  • Install fire alarms, fire suppression systems, and emergency lighting.
  • Maintain fire suppression systems and promptly perform any necessary maintenance, repairs, or replacements.
  • Mitigate fire hazards. Make sure to remove debris, waste, and other potential combustibles. Ensure that your storage of raw materials, papers, etc. complies with local fire codes and industry regulations. Ensure that personnel are properly trained in fire prevention strategies and how to use the fire suppression systems within your facility.
  • Act, don’t react. Be proactive when potential threats emerge. Keep your systems maintained so that they are primed and ready to operate in an instant.

What to Do When a Fire Breaks Out

Following the proper steps when a fire breaks out is essential for keeping personnel and customers safe. It will also protect the facility from damage. When a fire breaks out, the following is the most advisable procedure to follow:

  1. Evacuate non-essential personnel and customers from the building or affected area. Individuals should be directed to a centralized meeting area.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Confirm fire suppression systems are activated and deployed.
  4. Confirm personnel and known guests/visitors/contractors/customers are accounted for.
  5. Relay critical details of the blaze to first responders, including the presence of toxic chemicals, flammable materials, and any missing individuals and their possible locations within the structure.

Do you have questions about the importance and effectiveness of fire suppression systems? Contact the PSI team today team at (503) 641-2222, and we will be happy to give you the answers you need to keep your people and your property safe from fire. 

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