Types of Fire Protection Equipment in Australia
The right fire safety equipment is essential to save lives and protect property against the damaging effects of uncontrolled blazes. If you are responsible for providing first response services for fires in your area or need fire fighting equipment for your office buildings, retail establishments or other commercial spaces, understanding the various types of fire protection equipment can help you make the most practical and cost effective choices for your business.
Often regarded as the first line of defence against smaller fires, fire extinguishers are available in several different types that include the following:
- Dry powder
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Wet chemical
Each of these types of fire extinguishers is designed to combat specific types of fires:
Class A fires are fueled by combustible materials like wood or paper. They can be controlled by water, foam, dry powder or wet chemical extinguishers.
Class B fires use flammable liquids like petrol or paint as their fuel source. These types of fires require foam, dry powder or CO2 extinguishing systems.
Class C fires must be extinguished using dry powder systems. These fires are fueled by flammable gases that may include methane or natural gas.
Class D fires are usually only found in industrial settings and are the result of ignition of flammable metals like lithium. Special powder fire extinguishers are required for these fires.
Class F fires require wet chemical fire extinguishers and usually originate in deep fat fryers used for frying chips and other foods in restaurant settings.
Electrical fires can be brought under control with dry powder or CO2 fire extinguishers. These fires usually involve generators, computers and appliances.
Choosing the right fire extinguisher can deliver practical help in managing fire safety requirements in your commercial buildings.
Fire Hose Reels
Fire hose reels are found in commercial, industrial and residential buildings and deliver water directly to the area of the fire through hoses. Because water is the sole fire protection agent in these systems, they are only suitable for fighting Class A fires. This limits their application in restaurants, industrial settings and other areas where chemical or electrical fires are possible.
Automatic fire sprinklers are designed to deploy if a fire is detected within the building. To operate properly, most sprinklers must be connected to the fire protection system that detects fires and alerts occupants to the situation. These fire safety systems may also feature self-contained detection systems that can independently react if a fire breaks out.
Fire sprinklers are available in four basic types:
Wet-pipe systems contain water in the pipes at all times. This allows them to provide the fastest reaction times for fast-moving fires fueled by ordinary combustible materials. In extremely cold temperatures, however, the water in these pipes could freeze to do severe damage to the entire system.
Dry-pipe systems contain pressurized air that is expelled when the system is activated, allowing water to enter the pipes and the sprinkler system. These types of fire sprinklers require regular checks to make sure they operate properly.
Deluge sprinkler systems deliver a large volume of water directly to the area affected by the fire. These systems are usually implemented in industrial or manufacturing settings in which quick and decisive action is necessary to stop the spread of fires.
Single and double-interlock pre-action sprinkler systems are designed to provide a short delay before water is delivered to the area of the fire. This can allow personnel in the building to act to contain the fire before water damages items in the area. Pre-action sprinklers are usually deployed in museums, archives and libraries and are intended to protect the paper documents in these areas from suffering unnecessary harm.
The right type of sprinkler system for your facility will generally depend on prevailing climate conditions and the nature of the materials stored in buildings that need these fire protection services.
One of the most basic and practical solutions for fire safety, fire blankets are designed to smother fires by eliminating their access to oxygen. Fire blankets are only suited for fighting smaller fires and for wrapping a person whose clothing has caught on fire. They are often used to smother cooking fires in which oil or grease has ignited. By placing the fire blanket over the area of these fires, they can be extinguished safely.
Fire Indicator Panels
Your fire indicator panel is the central detection and warning system for your building or facility. This system is designed to alert local fire protection services and to provide early warnings to occupants of your buildings. Fire indicator panels are categorized as conventional or addressable:
Conventional fire indicator panels monitor specific zones within your building. When a fire is detected in one of these zones, the panel will provide you with a general area in which the fire is located and will allow prompt action by staff members or first responders to the correct location within the building.
Addressable fire indicator panels, by contrast, use complex electronic systems that pinpoint the location of the fire by determining which sensors or alarms have been tripped. The specific address of the sensor is relayed to the panel and conveyed to fire protection services personnel or in-house fire response staff.
Each type of fire indicator panel requires monthly testing for general operation. Additionally, specific tests are required every six months. At least 50 percent of the smoke detectors within a facility must be tested annually to comply with Australian Standards requirements.
Additional Fire Safety Equipment Requirements
A few other items can promote greater safety for you, your staff members and customers or guests to your facility:
- Signage that indicates the location of emergency exits can help staff members and customers to exit the building safely if a fire occurs. Fire fighting equipment should also feature signs that explain the proper use of these devices.
- First aid kits are also useful in treating any injuries that may result from fires in your facility. These kits should be located throughout your building and should include basic supplies for treating burns and other minor injuries.
- For areas that do not receive natural light, emergency lighting can ensure a safer exit for people inside your building.
- Creating a fire safety plan for your staff members and customers will allow you to stay on the right side of fire protection regulations. This fire safety plan should be communicated to all members of staff to let them know what to do in an emergency.
Working with an experienced and knowledgeable fire safety equipment company can help you to acquire the right equipment for your facility. Your fire fighting equipment provider can help you choose the right solutions for your needs.
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About Aegis Safe
Your safety and peace of mind is our objective. Aegis Safe has been helping our clients protect their staff and property with our full range of comprehensive fire protection solutions since 2009. We specialise in installing, inspecting, testing, diagnosing and repairing fire protection systems.