Home        About          Contact
1

Fire Safety System
One of eight primary systems in a building. Also referred to as the "fire protection system".

The fire safety system monitors, detects and suppresses fire hazards. The fire safety system is in some ways analogous to the autoimmune system of the human body, which removes bacteria and viruses from the human body.

The fire safety system overlaps both the electrical and
mechanical systems in the following ways
  • Fire detection equipment (such as heat and smoke
  • detectors) is often classified as electrical components;
  • Fire suppression equipment (such as pumps and
  • sprinklers) is treated as part of the mechanical
  • domain.
Suppressing fires and controlling smoke transmission is a type of autoimmune response. The system also includes
components to facilitate the efficient evacuation of people from the premises, such as exit signs and emergency lighting.

The fire safety system is akin to the auto-immune system in the human body.



Asset Inventory
The fire safety system includes assets such as:

      Detection
  • Smoke Detectors/Alarms
  • Heat Detectors
     Suppression
    • Sprinkler Heads
    • Fire Pump
    • Fire Extinguishers
    • Dry Compressor
    • Fire Hydrants
          Alarm
    • Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP)
    • Fire Alarrm Annunciator Panel (FAAP)
          Egress
    • Emergency lighting
    • Emergency exit signs



    Attributes
    The elements of the fire safety system typically have the following attributes:

    Financial and Physical Analysis

    Financial analyses of the systems can be found at:

    Physical analyses of the systems can be found at:


    Condition Assesssments

    Survey Questions

    Listed below are some sample questions that are utilized in a facility condition assessment:
    1. Have all the deficiencies from the last annual fire inspection been corrected?    
    2. Are there any outstanding orders from the fire department?    
    3. Have there been any fire damage insurance claims within the past year?    
    4. Which are currently (or have historically been) your most troublesome pieces of fire safety equipment?
    5. Are there any tenants who have repeatedly caused false alarms with the fire system? 
    6. Where do you keep the fire plan, inspection logs and other reference documents?
    7. Are there any pieces of fire safety equipment that are exceptionally difficult to access?    
    8. Do you have any recommendations for upgrades to the fire alarm system?
    9. Are you aware of any potential fire hazards?    
    10. Has there been any vandalism of the fire safety equipment during the past year?    
    11. Is there any significant repair/upgrade work to the fire safety equipment scheduled to occur in the near future? If yes, please specify:
    12. Any general comments about the fire safety equipment?

    FCA Observations
    Here is a preliminary list of some of the things to look out for:
    • Quality of safety signage to fire equipment rooms
    • Quality of labelling on alarm panels
    • Dust in electrical rooms
    • Water in electrical rooms
    • Storage in electrical room and clearance around equipment
    • Availability of sprinkler supplies


    Risk Management
    Risk management is about identifying the undesirable things that could happen to the organization, to the people who live and work in the building(s) and the things that must be done to avoid (or to lessen) the negative impact.
    Some of the primary risks (the “consequences”) that are to be avoided or mitigated through management of the fire protection system are as follows:
    • Fire damage to the building and personal effects
    • Smoke and fire injury to residents, occupants
    • Potential litigation due to property damage or bodily injury
    • The nuisance of false fire alarms
    • Orders to repair issued by the fire department
    • Desensitized fire alarm equipment that does not operate properly
    • Potential for fines and penalties for non-compliance with authorities having jurisdiction
    • Reduced insurance coverage due to non-compliance with insurance underwriting requirements
    Some of the hazards (the “causes”) that can affect the performance of the fire protection assets are as follows:
    • Water exposure to electronic equipment in fire panels and alarm devices
    • Rodent activities in electrical rooms
    • Dust accumulations in electrical rooms and inside fire alarm equipment
    • Inadequate clearance around electrical equipment for ventilation and maintenance access
    • Vandalism, misuse and abuse by residents and guests
    • Inadequate maintenance of fire protection assets
    Once we fully understand and appreciate the significance of the consequences that may arise from inadequate care of the fire safety assets, we can start to make appropriate plans for operations and maintenance so as to mitigate the impact on our organization and our people.



    Operations 
    Operations is about the day-to-day activities in the building that must be coordinated amongst different people with a variety of skills.  Listed below are some of the things that should be considered in estimating the level-of-effort to operate the fire safety assets and the composition of the team that will be required.
    • Durability and Service Life - The fire safety system typically has both short-life assets (such as smoke alarms) and long-life assets (such as fire hydrants). Therefore, some components of the system are being replaced regularly and others are seldom replaced. Since the majority of the fire protection assets are quite durable they do not require much day-to-day attention by the organization.
    • The Asset Inventory – The average low-rise building could have approximately 10 assets in its inventory. Although the fire safety system is very critical it is not a large and complex system like the mechanical system.
    • The Team - The fire safety assets are highly regulated and operations and maintenance of the fire safety assets requires skilled contractors who have been properly certified. The organization will typically outsource all of the operations and maintenance of the fire safety equipment other than testing of the bells.
    • Equipment & Supplies – No equipment is required by the organization as this is will be provided by the 3rd party contractor who does the statutory maintenance (see below).
    • Documentation & Recordkeeping – The fire safety system has some very stringent recordkeeping requirements. For example, every single fire extinguisher must include a test tag including the date
    The consequences of failure of the fire protection assets are very significant. Maintenance and care is therefore paramount.



    Maintenance
    Maintenance is work done to preserve the fire protection assets over their useful service lives, without unforeseen repairs or major renewal. Included below is a summary of the things to consider for ongoing maintenance and periodic repairs of the different components of the fire safety system.

    Fire safety assets are highly regulated for safety reasons and subject to statutory maintenance requirements. They are always maintained on rigid schedules under a preventive maintenance program with no room for flexibility



    RepairsRepairs to fire alarm equipment is usually identified during the annual fire alarm inspection.

    The organization can avoid some unnecessary repair costs by reminding residents to take care of the fire safety equipment. For example, reminders not to paint over smoke alarms or hang things from sprinkler pipes.




    Capital Planning 
    Capital planning is about making appropriate financial preparations as each of the fire safety assets approaches the end of their respective service lives. As assets get beyond a certain age, maintenance is no longer sufficient to stop their physical deterioration (or slow down their obsolescence) and plans need to be made to replace and/or upgrade some (or all) of the components. 

    The fire protection system is susceptible to two primary forms of obsolescence:
    • Technological obsolescence (replacement parts cannot be found) and
    • Legal obsolescence (orders from an authority having jurisdiction must be complied with).
    Effective financial management requires an approach that considers the different building systems in an integrated way.



    Energy Considerations

    Unlike the mechanical system, the fire protection system does not present any opportunities for improved energy efficiencies. Since the fire safety system is highly regulated for safety reasons, it is not advisable to explore options for optimization of the equipment. The organization will be informed by its contractors when it is time to upgrade any equipment.

    1  1
    Fig. Fire extinguishers (left) and fire pumps (right) are examples of assets that form part of the fire suppression system.


    Human physiology as an analogy to illustrate the importance of system interaction and comparing the immune system to the fire protection system.
    Fig. Human physiology as an analogy to illustrate the importance of system interaction and comparing the immune system to the fire protection system.




    Seasonal maintenance program represented by system.
    Fig. Seasonal maintenance program represented by system.


    1
    Fig. Dry sprinkler valves and air compressor are part of the fire protection system.


    Conceptual representation of the interconnected systems in buildings
    Fig. Conceptual representation of the interconnected systems in buildings.


    Distribution of medium-life assets within each of the eight primary physical systems
    Fig. Distribution of short-life, medium-life and long-life assets within each of the eight primary physical systems.


    Retrofit of a conventional fire alarm control panel (FACP) to an addressable system
    Fig. Retrofit of a conventional fire alarm control panel (FACP) to an addressable system.


    The capital load distributed across the eight primary physical systems for different types of buildings
    Fig. The capital load distributed across the eight primary physical systems for different types of buildings.


    See also:
    Compare with:



    (c) Copyright Asset-Insights, All Rights Reserved. - "Insight, foresight and oversight of assets" Google