Connecting Your Home to the Fire Department

 onclick=There is a lot we can do to prevent and reduce fires, but what about those circumstances over which we have no control?

For instance, what will you do if a fire breaks out at your home when you” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”re not there? Who will call the fire department? One measure of protection you can take is connecting your home to the fire department, aka fire alarm monitoring.

Your conventional smoke detector is known as a single-station unit, meaning that when it goes off, it only warns those who can hear it within earshot. Alarm monitoring systems send a signal over your phone or home network to alert the fire department.

The benefits of having your smoke detectors linked directly with the fire department should be obvious: you can 24 hour protection, a super fast emergency response, and many insurance companies will offer discounts for those connected. Finally, your system can even deter breakins (many won” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t risk entering if they see the decal on the window).

If you have recently bought a home, you might not know whether your smoke detectors are connected to the fire department. The only certain way of doing this is by calling the company that installed the system.

Of course not everyone can take advantage of fire alarm monitoring services, but thanks to Auto Fire Guard, you can get most of the protection a fire alarm system can offer.

Smartphone technology and fire prevention

 onclick=Smartphones have made life so much better in so many ways, but you couldn” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t come up with a better way to make the best of them than by linking them to your home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Wouldn” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t it be great to have real time knowledge of fires in your home even when you” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”re not there? That day has arrived.

Smoke detectors have saved thousands of lives and homes, but they are not much use if you” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”re not there. Most home fire detectors are not connected to the fire department alert system, so if you” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”re not there when a fire breaks out, you” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”re at a disadvantage.

There are companies now that make wi-fi connected carbon and smoke detector alert systems. Some packages allow you to use your smoke detectors with a simple 9-volt battery that is connected to your home network. These batteries are usually less than $50 and make for a good entry level technology if you don” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t want to shell out for a proper system with the hardware.

If you are willing to spend a little few bucks, you can purchase a proper system. These devices are controlled by a dedicated app which can make automatic alert calls to family members as well as neighbors. These systems can be had for about $75 for each detector.

Smartphone alarms can notify you when your smoke detector batteries are going dead, though some are good for up to 5 years. Nevertheless the app keeps you apprised at all times of the remaining juice.

Spring cleaning and fire prevention

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Spring is upon us and while many are enjoying the warm weather, it” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”s also a time to get things done, namely, spring cleaning. From a fire prevention point of view spring cleaning is also an ideal time to take extra precaution measures.

Among the things you should think about are:
1. Changing batteries in smoke detectors
2. Make sure you smoke detectors are not old (less than 10 years). And make sure you have them in all the right places: laundry room, kitchen, etc.
3. Test the smoke alarms
4. Clean the garage out, particularly old newspapers and flammable liqiuds that you don” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t need.
5. Clean up old brush outside
6. Clean the vent pipe to your clothes dryer (buildup can lead to fires)
7. Keep the area around the dryer clear of things like old newspapers
8. Check electrical cords to make sure that they are not frayed or otherwise damaged
9. Repair damaged siding
10. Keep fire extinguishers charged if you have them.
11. Dispose of any leaky products, particularly those that are hazardous of flammable

Spring is also a time to review the family” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”s emergency plans, ie what your family will do in a fire emergency. If you don” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t have one now is the time to create one.

Finally, did you know that you can link your fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to your smartphone? Nothing can make you feel safer.

Is passive fire protection enough?

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Passive fire protection has become the de facto front line defense in containing fires and preventing loss of life in a fire in high rise buildings. This means emphasized reliance on detection and egress. Many are starting to rethink this in recent years though.

One reason for the change in attitude comes from the fact that more furnishings are made from synthetic petroleum based products. These products constitute a significantly greater fuel load which create higher temperatures in a fire. Fire with these materials can get uncontrollably hot before their smoke reaches detectors, and a fire sprinkler system would  put the fire out definitively. Putting the fire will not only allow residents to escape, but  will also quickly reduce the amount of toxic smoke.

This raises the question as to why not simply retrofit these older buildings with fire sprinkler systems? The answer is simply money. Many building managers don” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t want to invest in something that isn” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t cost effective, and the last thing most tenants want to see is more maintenance costs.

This raises the next question as to whether one would be so reluctant about a fire sprinkler system if one finds oneself in a fire emergency. There have been efforts to reduce the cost of sprinkler systems in new high rises. At the end of 2017 the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed into law. The law encourages building owners to act in good faith toward tenants that want to live in high rises. Under the new law any sprinkler system installed after September 27, 2017 in an existing commercial or residential (apartment, not condo) structure, will be able to be fully expensed as a capital improvement. Alas, the law expires at the end of 2022.  So, now the property owner will be able to immediately write off the full cost of the sprinkler system. That means an approximate 40% reduction in the total cost.

Active fire protection and passive fire protection

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As the title suggests, fire protection is classified into two parts: active and passive. Though they are distinct, they are meant to work in unison in a fire emergency. But first some definitions.

Active fire protection are those fire prevention systems that require an action to work properly. Actions would include doing something physically or manually. Pulling a fire alarm or sprinkler system and using a fire extinguisher would be examples. Note that these measures do not always solve the problem (if they did we wouldn” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”t need firemen).

Passive systems are those components that use resistance to contain fire. This would include fire resistant walls, fire detectors, dampers which keep smoke from spreading through the air ducts, fire doors which help compartmentalize a room or building, and fire resistant floors. Additionally, multi story buildings use lighted Exit signs to help escape efforts.

As you can tell, neither one works completely. They exist in unison in the event one component or more stops working. For instance, in the winter water sprinkler systems can freeze. Sometimes firefighters are delayed from arriving at a fire because of inclement weather. Active systems work positively toward putting out the fire while passive systems contain it.

The issue isn” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”t as clear cut as you might think though. In places where there are a lot of high rise buildings, compartmentalization can become the de facto primary means of containing a fire. A lot of study has been put into this field, and much money has been put into creating ” onclick=”return TrackClick(” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”,” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”%2Fpurchaa” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”)”faultless” onclick=”return TrackClick(” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”,” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”%2Fpurchaa” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchaa’)”)” fire alert systems which are at minimum meant to prevent the loss of life.

Interesting facts about fires, Part I

  1. The Fire Triangle. In order to have a fire, you need three things: oxygen, intense heat and a combustible. If any one of these components is absent, you can’t have a fire. Fire suppression systems must attack at least one of these. Water methods reduce the heat, chemical methods and blankets reduce oxygen, etc.
  2. Most human danger in fires comes from smoke inhalation. A fire sprinkler system does exactly this. A fire consumes all in a room and replaces it with poisonous smoke and carbon monoxide even before the flames even get into that room.
  3. Kitchen fires are the most common. Cooking is the leading cause of injuries from house fires, as strange as that sounds. Fires can be started in any number of ways, but grease is usually the culprit.  Electric stoves create more fires than gas stoves do, even though the former has no open flames.
  4. In the United States alone, nearly 4000 people die from fires and another 20,000 are injured every year. The tragedy is that most of these fires were preventable or at least mitigatable.  It’s sobering to think that 2/3 of all deaths by fires occur because there were no working fire alarms present.

 

Auto Fire Guard can be a great asset in protecting your family and property in case of a fire. Just mount it near where it’s likely the fires will start and let it do its job.

Responding to kitchen fires in commercial establishments

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Just because there is a fire in the kitchen, it doesn” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t mean you have to call the fire department. The first step should be to assess the problem, then take the necessary steps.

If the fire is confined to the oven, it can probably be be safely extinguished by closing the oven door. Just put on oven mitts and quickly close the door, then turn off the oven. Fires can” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t survive without oxygen, and closing the door will choke that supply off.

NOTE: Do not — repeat, do not — open the door “just for a peek” to check the status of the fire. Leave the door closed. Expect smoke for a few minutes, even after the fire is out. Open a window if one is available. If it doesn” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t go out, move to the fire extinguisher phase.

If the fire on the range you probably have a grease fire on your hands. Virtually all cooktop fires are grease fires, and you should not use plain water on it.

Step 1: Put (or keep) your oven mitts on.
Step 2: Carefully turn off the burners.
Step 3: Locate the lid to the pot/pan containing the fire.
Step 4: Hold the lid at an angle like a shield, quickly slide it onto the pot. Be careful about flame of heat from the pot. Again, you’ve deprived the fire of oxygen, and it should go out. Do not move the pan until it cools.
Step 5: If you can” onclick=”return TrackClick(”,’%2Fpurchase’)”t find the lid, douse the grease fire with baking soda.
Step 6: If the baking soda is not effective, you will need a fire extinguisher. Use one with a Class BC or ABC rating (dry chemical) which can be used for grease fires. (Look for the green triangle and the appropriate pictograph. ) Carbon dioxide (CO2) unit, both of which are suitable for grease fires.

Note that dry-chemical units leave a powdery residue that is corrosive enough to ruin the stove, and thus the CO2 is the better choice. If you use a chemical extinguisher, once the fire is out, any powder should be cleaned up immediately using soap, water and rubber gloves.

If fire that moves beyond the oven or stove to surrounding walls, cabinets or fixtures requires a call to the fire department — even if you are able to put it out with an extinguisher. Wiring could be damaged and should be inspected by a professional.

Fire prevention in restaurants

With the abundance of open flames, hot equipment, electrical appliances, and oil all coming together in a small, hectic environment, restaurants present a considerable fire risk.

Most fires  in restaurants involve cooking equipment, and in most places in the United States special fire suppressions designed for restaurants must be in place.  These systems work by automatically detecting excessive flames and dispensing chemical fire suppressants. Keeping grease cleaned up can help prevent problems before they happen.

The presence of inflammable liquids like fat, grease, and oil require special fire extinguishers.   Class K fire extinguishers are the only ones made specifically for this purpose. Make sure your staff is trained on how to used them.

Store flammable things like napkins and tablecloths in spaces away from heat and grease.

It is frequently overlooked but having all gas and electrical equipment inspected on a regular basis is essential for fire safety measures. The heat in kitchens and chronic use can lead to premature wear and tear on appliances, including frayed cords and leaking gas lines.

Fire codes commonly call for a quarterly inspection of exhaust systems to ensure that there is not a build-up of grease.  Exhaust systems must remain clean at all times to prevent grease fires or a build-up of toxic fumes in busy kitchens.

 

Water fire extinguishers

Have you ever thought about how a fire extinguisher works? The three most common types of fire extinguishers include water, dry chemical, and carbon dioxide, and today we will discuss the water variety.

As you might have expected, most of the tank in a water fire extinguisher is filled with water. Additionally, there a canister that contains high-pressure gas that propels the water out of the tank and through the nozzle.

When you engage the fire extinguisher it sets off a chain of events

  1. When pressure is applied to the handle, a valve opens and releases pressurized gas from the canister which is situated at the top of the tank
  2. The gas immediately expands and fills the inside of the extinguisher, pushing the water downward
  3. As the water is forced down, it rises up the tube
  4. A jet of water emerges from the nozzle

Water based fire extinguishers are not appropriate for all types of fires. For example, You should NEVER try to extinguish an electrical fire with a water fire extinguisher because, well, electricity. While water is not itself a conductor, the trace minerals in it are, and you risk electrocution by throwing water on an electrical fire.  If a fire breaks out and you don’t have the right fire extinguisher, get yourself to a safe place and call 911.

Auto Fire Guard is the self activating fire protection device that can be used as a fire extinguisher or supplement, or a fire sprinkler system for critical areas of your business or home.

Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems Part I

While fire sprinkler systems are the most common type of fire protection systems for commercial buildings, electronics can pose other problems that are not appropriate for conventional systems.

Water can damage to places like control centers, power plants, and offices with computers that store essential documents and provide vital services. For buildings, with lots of electronics,  clean agent fire suppression systems are a great option, as they can suppress a fire with gas that won’t cause damage to electronics.

Common Clean Agent Systems

There are several common types of clean agent fire suppression systems, all of which use gases that are safe for both humans and environment.

The FM-200 stores its fire fighting chemicals as a liquid that quickly vaporizes before it can cause damage to components. Essentially, it displaces the oxygen around a fire and primarily absorbs heat from the fire to fight it.

The Inergen system uses gases like nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide to reduce oxygen levels around the fire. The level of carbon dioxide is not enough to be dangerous to humans. After discharge it simply dissipates.

The 3M™ Novec™ 1230 system also uses self vaporizing liquid when discharged, but this system sucks up the oxygen as its primary fire fighting method.

CO2 systems are good for buildings with low occupancy, because the levels of carbon dioxide can be lethal.

Parts to the system

There are  three parts to a clean agent fire suppression system: smoke detectors, the control panel, and notification devices. The smoke detectors work as they do with other systems, The smoke detector will send a signal to the control panel, which then alerts the notification devices and activates the release device to suppress the fire. The notification devices are there to warn occupants of the fire, and alert people in the area when the clean agent is about to be released.