Intelligent Fire Protection

Changing the Face of the Fire Prevention and Suppression Industry
Written by: 
Molly Shaw

From schools to hospitals, nursing homes to apartment buildings, datacenters to banks and even mining and forestry operations, when critical facilities require the highest level of fire protection, the fire suppression and prevention industry is stepping up to the plate in terms of improved safety and security. While the industry has remained unchanged for many years, new technology is emerging, improving fire protection and prevention and allowing owners, tenants, employees, students and fire professionals to breathe easier.
Typically, water and fire prevention go hand-in-hand. According to the Fire Suppression Systems Association (FSSA), an organization of manufacturers, suppliers and designer-installers dedicated to providing higher level fire protection, water is still the primary tool to control structural fires. However, with today’s technical sophistication, containing a fire to a single area isn’t enough. Critical facilities require an even higher level of fire protection and the industry is delivering.
A Smarter Fire Safety System
No longer is fire extinguisher technology limited to sprinkler systems and pressurized canisters. Today, world-renowned fire alarm manufacturers, such as Siemens, are breaking the traditional mold, pioneering systems that utilize sound, thermal imaging and can even extinguish a blaze without a drop of water, specifically ideal for sensitive information technology and document rooms.
Even small fires, contained or controlled by a conventional sprinkler system, result in critical operation costs. Most sprinkler systems activate when temperatures reach a pre-set level, often after a fire is established and equipment damage is already imminent. Electrically conductive water-based agents cause current flow, which damages sensitive equipment, resulting in abrupt electrical shutdowns and expensive, tedious cleanup processes.
Siemen’s patented Cerberus Pro fire safety product line backed by proven Advanced Signal Analysis (ASA) technology is one of the systems leading the charge in innovative fire prevention, detecting fires quickly and safely in the most challenging environments. Both Cerberus Pro detector models have two optical and two thermal sensors, allowing them to be employed as fire and heat detectors and additionally equipped with an integrated carbon monoxide sensor.
Devices using ASAtechnology offer reliable fire detection and minimize the incidence of false alarms. The system also has the ability to load multiple parameter sets into the detectors to easily switch the level of responsiveness. For example, the sensitivity of a detector installed in a rough industrial environment can be decreased on the weekend when the production lines are down, or a university building with an industrial cafeteria and a data center; the all-encompassing product line covers all environments.
From preventing a fire to physically fighting it on the ground, industry technology is advancing on all levels. Task Force Tips (TFT), an Indiana-based nozzle and equipment manufacturer, is aiming to make firefighting more effective and safer for professionals around the world.
Ever since the invention of the fire pump, firefighters have struggled to obtain correct nozzle pressures. Through innovative design, TFT solves this dilemma by constantly adjusting to the varying pressures of the hose line, from fixed, selectable and automatic nozzles, portable or remote control monitors to foam injection and application equipment.
TFT’s state-of-the-art Blizfire HE and Blitzfire Oscillating HE high elevation portable monitor series allows firefighters to go from 10 degrees horizontal to nearly 90 degrees overhead; a gain of some 40 degrees with the same 500 gallons-per-minute power and protection of the monitor’s patented safety shut off valve. The design is simple, light weight and highly maneuverable with a low elevation angle, making it suitable for almost any fire ground application.
As the fire suppression industry continues to grow Military scientists are aiming to suppress flames with nothing but sound. In 2008, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the first Instant Fire Suppression (IFS) research program, to investigate the nature of fire. In the study, DARPA treats flames as cold plasma, capable of being manipulated with physical forces such as electromagnetic radiation and acoustic waves.
By bombarding the blaze with acoustic waves, the sound disturbs the flame’s fuel source to the point where the speed of vaporization increases until the flames disperse. While the technology is still a long way out, the end term goal is to offer fire suppression devices for use in places like airplane cockpits and ship holds.
In a niche market where there’s always room for improvement, competition is driving the research and development of cutting edge, lifesaving technology. From improving detection at the source to more efficient ways to tame the blaze, the fire suppression and protection industry is gaining ground in advanced technology.