Glen Ellen Fire Protection District

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

The Importance of Life Safety Services

Fire safety systems play an important role in keeping your property safe. They help to limit the dangers of smoke, heat and toxic fumes.

Life safety services specializes in creating organized and logical fire safety plans. They can also evaluate the type of safety equipment your business needs and assist with getting it installed.

NFPA 101

The NFPA 101, Life Safety Code is used by many states as a regulatory requirement. The code covers means of egress, hazardous materials emergencies, injury from falls and emergency communications.

NFPA 101 also addresses considerations not related to fire, such as protective features and systems, building services, operating characteristics and maintenance activities. This is a result of tragedies such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that highlighted neglected safety concerns.

Understand that while NFPA 101 does not discuss all of the safety systems commonly referenced, these standards are often integral to the requirements for a specific occupancy type. For example, NFPA 76 is vital for data centers, but it’s not a direct component of NFPA 101.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are one of the most commonly used life safety system components. Most states and localities have laws regarding the number and placement of smoke detectors in buildings, with most relying on standards set by NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

Ionization smoke detectors use radioactive materials (in very tiny quantities that pose no health risks) to ionize air molecules between a pair of electrodes in a detection chamber. Smoke particles attach to the ions and diminish the flow of current, setting off the alarm.

NFPA recommends having both ionization and photoelectric alarms in the home because each detects different kinds of fires. There are also dual-sensor alarms that combine the advantages of both types.

Fire Alarms

Fire alarms alert occupants to the presence of a fire and give them instructions for evacuation. They are the first line of defense against property damage and can save lives if properly inspected and tested by qualified NICET fire and life safety professionals.

They are often accompanied by audible evacuation signals, which use standardized tones such as Temperal Code 3. These signals may also include voice announcements, visual notification, or warning lights. Some systems can send a signal to a staffed monitoring station, either on or off site. Other types of fire safety systems are meant to prevent or suppress a fire, such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers.


Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher is a portable, hand-held device that can be used to put out small fires in their early stages. They come in several classes and contain water or chemicals designed for specific hazards and are available as stored pressure or cartridge-operated types.

Every large fire was once a small one, and it is important to smother those fires in their initial stages so they do not grow into uncontrollable ones that threaten lives, property or business. Fire extinguishers can do this for you until trained fire department personnel arrive.

Regular inspections and recharging ensure that these devices are ready to use when needed. They should be located throughout your facility.

Evacuation Routes

Fire evacuation routes are a must for any building or premises. The simultaneous evacuation system involves everyone leaving the premises at once, usually after the sound of the fire alarm goes off. The procedure is typically guided by a fire safety marshal or a trained employee.

Evacuation plans are also crucial in case of other disasters. They must include a clear chain of command as well as designated assembly points. They should also describe what equipment is available in the event of an emergency and where it is located.

Make sure to practice a fire drill at home with your family and come up with an emergency escape plan for all members of the household. Also, identify evacuation routes and have a place to stay if you need to evacuate.

Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting systems light up when a building’s power goes out, illuminating escape routes and safety equipment. These lights can be'maintained', which means they are on all the time, or non-maintained, which only turn on when the mains power fails.

When the time comes to evacuate your building during a fire or other disaster, well-lit hallways and exit signs make it much easier for people to find their way out and stay calm. These life safety systems require regular testing, so hiring qualified technicians to do this is critical. This ensures that your emergency lighting will work when it’s most needed.