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Beyond Code: The role of supplemental fire suppression in modern resiliency planning

Most developed countries have created or adopted a fire code for industrial and commercial buildings. The premise of most code is both simple and essential: protect life and structure.

But is meeting fire code enough? For some businesses which utilize equipment that is readily replaceable and can tolerate some downtime, perhaps it is. However, many forward-looking companies that are taking a closer look at their operations as part of a best practices or business continuity exercise have found that code simply isn’t enough to protect them from catastrophe. Either downtime or the loss of specific equipment could be crippling, placing the future of the business in question, so they are actively seeking supplemental solutions to further mitigate their risk.

With many businesses never reopening after a fire, an important part of planning for the future is making sure enough attention has been paid to protecting assets. For a company to remain viable it must not only be able to survive an incident but also be resilient enough that the damage caused is not catastrophically expensive and any downtime is minimal.

While facilities may be required to abide by fire regulations, fire code is not written to emphasize business continuity. In virtually every facility there is critical equipment that may present an elevated fire risk. In spite of this increased risk, code remains generalized in focus with an emphasis on full building sprinkler systems for the purpose of protecting occupants and the structure itself. Although the building and the occupants are protected with the sprinkler system, critical equipment may not be protected. That is when a supplemental fire suppression system is needed.

According to a 2012 NFPA report on Fires in U.S. industrial and manufacturing facilities, shop tools and industrial equipment were involved in 29% of structure fires. Small particles such as dust, fibre or lint (including sawdust) were the first items to ignite in 12% of fires.

For example, fires in CNC machines can cause significant damage in seconds and potentially spread throughout the facility. Even in the presence of operators, equipment has been completely destroyed either due to inadequate training or inadequate resources to fight the fire.

To fully protect their assets, architects, specifiers and facilities managers working in the industrial or manufacturing industries need to offer protection for their facilities that activates well before a fire gets to the stage where the sprinklers go off. They need to go beyond code.

These professionals need to be thinking about putting additional fire suppression systems in place in areas and equipment with elevated risk for the benefit of their clients.
Firetrace is the world leader in special hazard fire protection, providing both in cabinet and machine level fire prevention and protection for high value and/or mission critical machinery and equipment as well as our new E4 Engineered Solutions for protection of large rooms. Genuine Firetrace systems are available through a network of over 500 distributors worldwide.

For more information, go to www.firetrace.com


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