Fire Detection Systems Play Integral and Potential Life-Saving Roles in the Workplace
Top quality fire detection systems, together with a well-developed workplace emergency response and evacuation plan, can considerably lower the risks of huge property damage, injuries, and even fatalities in the case of fire. The key function of these systems, as their name already implies, is to detect developing fires before they completely get out of control.
As soon as a fire is identified, the occupants of the building, as well as the emergency response department, are notified right away. As a result, the people who are experienced in controlling and putting out the fire will be able to prevent it from spreading.
How these Devices Work
Fire detectors, particularly the automated ones, are designed to work through the use of electronic sensors. These sensors are specifically engineered to identify even the slightest traces of heat or smoke emanating from a developing fire. As soon as they detect these signs of a fire, they immediately give out a warning.
Out of all the products made for the detection of fire, the three most common and popular include the following:
Heat detection systems are typically used in workplaces that have dirty environments or those where the generation of dense smoke is common. While these devices do not have as high a sensitivity level as the other types of detectors, they are better for the use in said places. In most cases, these devices are designed to react to broad changes in the temperatures. There are also some that can be adjusted to detect specific changes in the temperatures.
These detectors are equipped with thermistors, components that are comprised of two temperature-sensitive resistors. As the temperature goes up, their resistance goes down. One of the resistors is exposed while the other is sealed. A change in the environment’s temperature results in the exposed resistor’s resistance decreasing, which then results in a high level of current being sent to the alarm to activate it.
These components of a fire detection system are designed to work with a “line-of-sight” method. They look for and analyze specific light types, including visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light, all of which are produced by flames in cases of combustion. Once these devices recognize any of these lights emitted by a fire, a signal is sent to the control panel, which then activates its alarm.
Smoke detectors are considered to be the most popular kind of fire detectors. They are designed in such a way that visible and invisible smoke particles generated by an instance of combustion can be detected. Ionization and photoelectric detectors are the two most main types of smoke detectors.
• Ionization Detectors
These are equipped with a tiny radioactive source which main function is to charge the air contained within a small chamber. The air allows for the passing of a small current through the chamber, which then results in an electrical circuit. In the event that smoke is able to enter the chamber, the radiation is shielded. As a result, the current is stopped, leading to an alarm being triggered.
These detectors quickly respond to even the smallest smoke particles generated by flames or extremely hot fires. However, if the fire is of low temperature, the density of the smoke can affect the speed of their response.
• Photoelectric Detectors
Photoelectric smoke detectors, on the other hand, make use of a light sensor and a light source. They are positioned in such a way that the source of light does not reach the sensor. In the event that smoke particles are able to gain entry to the light path, some of the rays scatter and hit the sensor. When this happens, an alarm is activated. The sensitivity level of these fire detection devices is higher and quicker for smoldering or low-temperature fires, but lower and slower for extremely hot fires.
Proper Selection of Fire Detectors
When making a selection from the different fire detectors available in the market, it is important to take into consideration not only the nature of the location where they will be installed in, but also the materials (particularly their burning characteristics) present in the location.
Heat detectors are best for workplaces where highly flammable liquids and gases are handled on a regular basis. These are also ideal for business establishments where the temperature will quickly and dramatically change due to a fire. Some of the other areas wherein the installation of these detectors is ideal include the following:
- Dirty and/or dusty environments.
- Areas with smoky air.
- Windless indoor areas.
- Manufacturing locations where the presence of vapors, fumes, and/or gases is at significant levels.
- Places where combustible particles are usually present, such as in furnace rooms, kitchens, utility rooms, and garages.
- Any area where there is vehicle exhaust gases, burners, and/or ovens.
Businesses and establishments that should consider the use of flame detectors are the those that have the following:
- High-ceilinged and open-space areas, such as auditoriums and warehouses.
- Outdoor areas where drafts and/or winds can prevent smoke from gaining access to smoke or heat detectors.
- Places where flaming fires can quickly develop, including fuel storage rooms, petrochemical production areas, solvent areas, and paint shops.
- Any other workplace environments where other types of fire detectors are not suitable for.
For businesses that deal primarily with wood, fabric, plastic, and paper materials, smoke detectors are often the most recommended type of fire detectors. Ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors, since they are specifically engineered to identify the presence of fire during its early or smoldering stages, will best fit the needs of these workplace environments. In addition, these also work best for the following:
- Low-ceilinged indoor areas, such as offices, restrooms, and closets.
- Relatively clean areas wherein the level of dust and/or dirt is only minimal.
Choosing the Right Fire Detector
It is important for businesses to choose the right fire detection system and base their choice not only on their budget, but also the specific use they have for it and the areas they want to have protected. Through the use of top quality fire detectors, considerable property damages and unnecessary bodily injuries can be prevented.