New Age Approach - Fire Safety In Workplace

Vijaypraveen Raj, Sr. Manager - Facilities & Administration, MedlifeIn his career spanning close to two decades, Vijay has handles eminent roles across an array of organization that include Jones Lang LaSalle, HTMT, Thomson Reuters, and Target, to name a few.

Fire safety is of prime importance in any workplace. Designated facility team is responsible for ensuring that our workplace meets all required fire safety standards. It is important that our working environment complies with all building regulations to ensure the safety of your employees and the protection of your building. Irrespective of the type of business, industry or for that matter number of employees working for the organisation, we have to emphasize on fire safety across organisation. It is mandatory to carry-out fire risk assessment in appropriate manner and adopt fire safety practices in the building. We have various new age techniques for firefighting, and advanced state of the art equipments are available to save the lives of people.

Adopting smarter technology means better fire safety solutions. Some of the basics like using right fire extinguishers for right fire classes will remain intact, but technological advances on basics will make fire fighting quicker, easier and quite effective. Some incredible technologies used in 21st century are use of sound waves and video detection technology to keep us safe during fire strikes.

Sound Wave Fire Extinguisher: These extinguishers are developed recently. The prototype has worked very efficiently, as the sound wave fire extinguishers are chemical & water-free and use sound waves to distinct burning fuel from oxygen. Here, fire gets extinguished without oxygen. In fact this techniques require extensive research for using it in putting-off large fires with the help of drone system. Nevertheless, this will be next great technology in fire fighting system.

Water Mist Systems: These are quite advanced version of typical sprinkler systems, and will be the major part of future fire fighting systems. The mist systems send-out a fine mist that smothers a fire. The mist systems create small droplets to larger surface area which converts to steam. The steam absorbs the heat from the flame, thereby reducing the temperature of fire which suffocates at faster pace than regular water. The other advantage of the mist system is they can be installed locally to cover an entire area, and mist can potentially fight electrical fires, which makes them the most versatile when compared to conventional sprinkler type suppression systems.

Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) Fire Sprinkler Systems: These kinds of suppression systems
are most widely used in big warehouses with large piled-up inventory. They are in-rack systems which require expensive pipe configuration with ceiling-mounted, featuring high-pressure heads capable of producing a high volume of water ­ nearly 100 gallons ­ per minute. Unlike a normal sprinkler system, the ESFR suppresses the fire relatively faster, but these systems require huge amount of water and are hooked-up to fire pumps.

Basics like using right fire extinguishers for right fire classes will remain intact, but technological advances on basics will make fire fighting quicker, easier and quite effective

Integrated Voice Evacuation & Messaging System: These are new age systems which are far superior than conventional PA systems where it requires manual intervention for announcement during the fire in the building. An integrated voice evacuation and messaging system alerts occupants with prerecorded messages when a fire breaks-out. They provide exact voice instructions to the occupants of the building, which can also be customized to the particular location when there is fire. This system responds in a fraction of a second. It can be programmed for specific instructions during fires in various parts of a building. If there is an emergency in the building, the built-in redundancies will allow the technology to keep working, and this can be used either for small offices or many buildings within the tech park. The beauty of this system is over and again, it explains the fire evacuation plans specific to that building, and other safety information is played over speakers repeatedly so that occupants can aptly respond to the situations.

Video Image Smoke Detection (VISD): This is the ground-breaking technology unlike our typical smoke detectors available in the market. Here, the technology used will detect smoke and flames visually. It can specifically point the locations where the smoke begins. The computer analyzes whether images from cameras show evidence of smoke or flames. If the flame is detected, then the smoke or flame sends the signal to fire alarm system which can read the brightness or contrast, motion and colour of the smoke to assess the fire.

Few are the precautions to be taken to prevent the Fire in the Workplace.

• Never cover smoke detectors, block sprinklers and passages for movement.
• Keep fire exits free from any obstacles with proper housekeeping at the fire exits.

• Do not stack any corrugated boxes for longer period of time, as all the waste boxes are highly inflammable. Hence, proper waste disposal policy should be in place in any working environment.

• All electrical panels & distribution boards should be maintained properly with planned preventive maintenance like tightening the loose ends and checking for phase currents & voltage levels periodically to avoid any friction & sparks which can result in fire.

• You have to provide designated smoking zone for all the employees. Else small smoke from cigarette buds can cause a big fire in the building.

• Do keep adequate number of proper refilled extinguishers in place which should be ready to use. Also remember to check all the fire extinguishers for their expiry.

• Ensure emergency contact numbers of fire brigade, hospital, ambulance service and local fire authority are displayed prominently at your office.

• Fire drills to be conducted once in at least 6 months through government certified agencies to create the awareness among employees of your organisation. Do ensure to display proper fire evacuation floor plan at designated areas of your office.

Fire can be anywhere ­ next to you, beside you, or behind you. Do keep in mind that fire safety is everyone's business.