Automatic water extinguishers protect life and property reliably. They play an especially important role in improving the safety of living. The Fire Prevention Technology Development Group emphasises that water mist extinguishers and sprinkler systems are the most effective way to prevent fire fatalities for disabled people, especially.
Automatic extinguishers are designed to put out or limit a fire until the rescue personnel arrive. The equipment activates in response to a higher heat level within the space. According to an American study, in buildings that had a sprinkler system installed sprinkler heads activated in 92 per cent of the fires.
The equipment is very reliable and false activations are extremely rare. Moreover, all of the sprinkler heads do not activate simultaneously. Rather, only the ones that are affected by elevated temperatures do.
Automatic extinguishers are designed to spray water in a real situation until they are turned off. It is likely that the subsequent water damage will be smaller than fire losses and smoke damage resulting from a freely advancing fire. In Finland, on average, it takes approximately 17 minutes from an alarm for firefighters to begin their action. An uncontrolled fire will developradically in that time frame and may also endanger human life.
– The activation of sprinklers does not increase the total sum of the fire losses, sums up Esko Rantanen, Chief Fire Inspector, Helsinki City Rescue Department.
It is possible to significantly improve fire safety, especially for older and disabled people, by installing automatic extinguishing equipment.
The rapidly increasing number of elderly people is yet another challenge from the viewpoint of safety of living. Portable extinguishers are one solution to improve the situation.
Different extinguishing systems are mutually complementary.
Fire safety is best achieved when risk situations are identified early on so that the situation does not develop into a full-blown fire.
Fire prevention must always be considered in its entirety and, therefore, in addition to the protection that extinguishers provide, smoke alarms (Automatic Detection Systems), likewise, improve safety.
With a smoke alarm information of an emerging fire is the most reliably and most likely the soonest alarm the Emergency Response Centre receives. Automatic Detection Systems provides the time to react to a situation as soon as possible, and the extinguishing equipment enables safe evacuation and rescue during a fire.
Automatic extinguishing system does not render the other firefighting action unnecessary.
– When a sprinkler has activated and slowed down a fire the rescue personnel can more rapidly gain control of the situation. At the same time, the extinguishing equipment improves the occupational safety of firefighters, says Esko Rantanen.
According to an American study non-functioning extinguishers are often the result of human action. In 59 per cent of the cases where the equipment failed, it had been switched off. Other key mistakes included turning off the system too soon during a fire as well as poor maintenance. In only seven per cent of the cases where the system failed could the reason be attributed to a technical fault.
The role of the human is especially highlighted in system maintenance. It is essential to properly maintain the extinguishing equipment so that they properly function when needed. Failing to maintain them may endanger the people in the building, and result in major financial loss.
– A sprinkler is the first line of defence at the scene of a fire, but it only works if it has been maintained professionally and responsibly, points out Arja Rantala, Finnish Sprinkler Engineers Association.
The Fire Prevention Technology Development Group emphasises the importance of planning fire safety in its entirety. Proper maintenance and wellserviced equipment ensure business continuity at the site.
– No technical implementation at the site eliminates the need for human action, underscores Lauri Lehto, Safety and Security Expert, Finnish National Rescue Association.
What is the Fire Prevention Technology Development Group?
The Fire Prevention Technology Development Group is a group of experts whose shared goal is to advance safety and to develop the service and maintenance, qualityand technical prospects of fire prevention technology. The environment is constantly developing and fire prevention must stay up-to-date to meet the new challenges.
Safety and Security Expert
The Finnish National Rescue Association SPEK