Fire Alarm Systems and Safety

Topics: Fire Safety

Fire alarm systems and the fire department play an integral part in ensuring the safety of individuals worldwide. Whenever an event occurs involving a devastating fire, the fire department must be contacted in order to ensure the safety of the individuals involved in the incident. On October 18, 2017 “Firefighters were battling 13 large fires on Wednesday across California that have burned more than 210,000 acres, according to Cal Fire. More than 22,000 people remained out of their homes across the state because of fires, according to the agency” (NBCNews).

The fire department is a local or municipal authority in charge of preventing and fighting fires.

Department’s Main Job

The fire department’s main job is to not only save the lives of the citizens they try to rescue, but to also ensure safety for themselves and fire team. The fire department has been around for a very long time, and will forever continue, because without the local fire department we have today, things like wildfires, burning buildings, homes, Forrest and just basic fire accidents would be harder to withstand.

With no one to control and help stop dangerous wildfires, or accidental fire related incidents the world we live in today would be totally different one.

The fire departments saves lives, homes, jobs, and even police in certain situations, so the firefighters we see today are considered to be noble heroes. Firefighting techniques and equipment are used to extinguish fires and limit the damage caused by them. Fire fighting consists of removing one or more of the three main problems essential to a fire which are combustible fuel, heat and oxygen.

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Regulations for checking and preventing fires were developed in the preindustrial era most cities had watchmen who sounded an alarm at signs of fire.

The basic operations of fighting a fire can be divided into the following categories: rescue operations, protection of buildings exposed to the fire, confinement of the fire, extinguishing the fire, and salvage operations. The officer in charge would usually be designated as the fire ground commander, in which controlled the area and evaluated the relative importance the fire. The commander also figures out what additional assistance or apparatus may be needed. Rescue operations are always given priority. Fire fighter safety goes first then evacuation and the people come second.

Union Fire Company in Philadelphia

On January 27, 1678 the first fire engine company went into service. Thomas Atkins was the first captain of fire truck. Soon after Benjamin Franklin established the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia. The history of organized firefighting dates back at least to Ancient Egypt, where hand operated pumps may have been employed to extinguish fires (fire-find). The first Roman fire brigade was a group of slaves who were hired by an aedile Marcus Egnatius Rufus.

So the work of trying to put out a fire with a team and tools to help put out the fire has been established since ancient times, but it wasn’t until 1678 that the work was labeled. The fire department is a serious and dangerous job. Not just anyone can be involved with the fire department and the many extra things that come with being engaged. Firefighters must first have a valid high school diploma and hold a valid driver’s license. Surprisingly a person can become a firefighter as young as 18 years old. Even though they must be legally 18 years old in order to work in the fire department, limited on-the-job training can begin at a younger age (theclassroom).

Many young people often find themselves involved with the fire department at really young ages and often fall in love with the training and work in the department. Besides from the dangerous fires, and constant help calls throughout the day, being a firefighter can be a very laid back and fun job to have. The legal age to get training and simulation for the fire department beings at just 16 years old. Many firefighter have been involved in the department most their lives and devote most their time into the fire department. According to “firerescue1” there are 11 specific requirements to becoming a firefighter.

Fiscal Responsibilities

The first step is meeting all the basic requirements of becoming a firefighter The second step of the process would be meeting all the educational requirements. A high school diploma is the only educational requirement needed for the fire department. The third step in the process is getting in good physical condition and staying healthy, because the work required a lot of energy and hands on training. The fourth step is staying out of any trouble you may find yourself involved in. A firefighters reputation means everything.

Similar to step four, step five requires for all your social media and online business to be clean. A firefighter can’t post inappropriate pictures or any relevant conduct that can misrepresent their profession on their social media. This will reflect bad, not only on the firefighter himself, but also the whole fire department will be looked down upon. The sixth step in the process is proving your fiscal responsibilities. This means a required background check covering credit score. Bad credit will hurt you if your looking to work in the fire department. Be disciplined about improving your score if need be. The seventh step in the process requires getting involved in your community. Community service is a big part of the fire department.

Before becoming a firefighter you will have to show the department you’re a honest and caring citizen to your community. In other words your image and the roll you play in your community are all looked at seriously to the fire department. The eighth step to the recruitment process is passing the written exam. Having a good image, legal clearance, and community service hours are important, but if one can’t pass the required written exam then all the others requirements are irrelevant. The ninth step in the process is being prepared for a psychological evaluation. This means you can’t study for this evaluation like you can on the written exam.

This evaluation will look at your mental and emotional stability to withstand the stresses associated with firefighting due to the career being a very serious and dangerous occupation. The second to last step in the process is graduating from the fire academy. This means you met all the requirements for being a firefighter and are ready for the last step to actually become a firefighter and contribute to the community. The final step after finishing all the requirements is simply acing the final interview. After you have finished an accomplished all of these task and requirements, an individual can officially become a firefighter.

Da Vinci’s System

Becoming a firefighter is an essential aspect to being an active member involved in community protection and also involves familiarity with various fire protection systems. Fire protection systems have been around for over two hundred years. Dating all the way back to the the very famous, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s system that he created not only worked to put the fire out, but it had such force that it created a flood and excessive damage to his kitchen and house. Ambrose Godfrey created the first successful automated sprinkler system in 1723 with gunpowder and extinguishing fluid (Wikipedia). Fast forwarding to 1852, owners of textile mills and factories began using perforated piping along the ceiling that would allow water to run through and “rain” down onto equipment fires.

From the 15th century until about the 1940’s systems like these were the only protection against fires that existed (Wikipedia). Even with these sprinkler systems, there was no automatic way for a fire to be detected unless someone saw it and was able to trigger/sounds the sprinkler system. From 1658 to the early 1800’s, all fire alerts were non-electric. This meant that “firefighters” would roam the streets with bells and buckets of water looking for fires, and using telegraphic keys to send vibration signals to others to alert them. The first electric fire alarm protection system wasn’t even invented until the late 1800’s. This system allowed abnormally hot temperatures to be detected and in turn would activate or signal the sprinklers to go off. The first electric fire protection system was the start to all the technology and safety systems we have today (Ryanfp).

Dr. William F. Channing and Moses Farmer

A fire alarm system has a number of devices working together to detect and warn people through visual aids and audio appliances when smoke, fire, carbon monoxide or other emergencies are present. Without the worldwide, everyday use of fire alarm systems many fires would be hard to stop. Fire alarms help stop the fire before it gets out of control by notifying the fire department as soon as a fire is detected. Fire alarm systems not only detect fires, but also can detect carbon monoxide. Which is a colorless, odorless toxic flammable gas formed by incomplete combustion of carbon. Fire alarms have saved many lives from not only fires but also explosions and other disastrous events.

Life wasn’t always this easy, according to “The-history-of-fire-alarms” it wasn’t until 1852 that the first fire alarm system was invented. Dr. William F. Channing and Moses Farmer were credited with the first creation of a fire alarm. The system consisted of two fire alarm boxes that each had a telegraphic key and a handle. Todays fire protection systems are so advanced that they can detect smoke, high temperatures, CO2 levels, trigger sprinkler systems, and even contact the fire department if no one is home to call 911.

The basic unit of the fire department is the company which is commanded by a captain. A captain may be on duty on each shift, although in some fire departments lieutenants and sergeants command companies when the captain is off duty. Fire companies are usually organized by types of apparatuses and engine companies, ladder companies, and squad or rescue companies. Fire fighters in the U.S. are trained in basic fire-prevention methods, and fire companies are assigned to different districts in which they attempt to prevent unsafe conditions.

Fire departments are charged with enforcement of the local fire code and state fire laws and regulations. Many modern fire departments spend little amount of time and activity in fighting fires. Instead, fire fighters respond to all other kinds of emergencies. In the United States almost 70 percent of all emergency medical calls are handled by the fire service. The same is true in many other countries.The first fire engines, which came upon in the 17th century, were simply tubs carried on runners, long poles, or wheels and water was supplied to the fire site by bucket brigade. The tub acted as a easier transporter and sometimes operated a hand-operated pump that forced water through a pipe or nozzle to awaiting buckets.

Conventional Fire Alarm

The most common types of fire protection systems in today’s age can be referred to as conventional or addressable. Conventional fire alarm systems are known as the most affordable and cheaper option. They are most commonly used in smaller facilities and are less complex than addressable fire alarm systems. Conventional alarms are often all wired to one control board and are more vague at pinpointing the exact location of the fire. Where addressable fire alarm systems are the most modern and dependable systems on the market. Addressable fire alarm systems are most commonly used in large facilities such as factories, office buildings, and warehouses because they have a more complex panel that allows an exact pinpoint of where the fire is located. This is a huge step in the safety of those in these large buildings as well as a huge step in time efficiency when it comes to locating the source or heart of the fire (kinetixfire).

Local Fire Jurisdiction

In order to have both conventional and/or addressable fire alarm systems installed in any building, they have to be inspected by an installation company. Installation companies are in charge of coming in to review the buildings codes, facility layout, and have a local fire jurisdiction do an inspection (Kinetixfire). Most states and even counties can have different jurisdictions and rules about how often systems need to be tested, replaced, and repaired. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a guideline, most often referred to as NFPA 25, that sets the requirements for inspections/tests.

The NFPA 25 states that fire protection systems and sprinkler systems should all be replaced, inspected, and tested regularly. According to the NFPA 25 a fire protection system should be checked weekly or monthly for pipe/gauge damages, sprinkler systems and alarms should be tested quarterly, a full inspection of both systems should be done yearly, and every five years fire protection and sprinkler piping systems need to be fully replaced (Statessystemsinc).

Fire Protection Laws are enforced throughout the United States by the United States Department of Labor. The United States Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations that affect Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Some of the laws that the Department of Labor enforce, relating to fire safety consist of 1910.164 “Fire Detection Systems” and 1910.159 “Automatic Sprinkler Systems.” While these particular two laws relate more closely to employers and their buildings, they also apply to apartment buildings and other large scare residential housing, not individual residential housing.

Fire Detection Systems

The first law relating to Fire Detection Systems states that all systems when installed, must meet the scope and application requirements stated by OSHA. Also, all fire detection systems must be replaced after any fire, installed outside where there is evidence of corrosive atmosphere, all systems must be independently supported, they must work in a time effective manner allowing proper time to extinguish possible fires, and that by building inspection the accurate number of systems is installed (OSHA). The second law by the Department of Labor relates to Automatic Sprinkler Systems and how all sprinkler systems must meet OSHA standards. This law states that all automatic sprinkler systems must all undergo flushing, air tests, hydrostatic tests, test of drainage facilities, etc. This law also states that all sprinklers must be protected to reduce risk of electrical or mechanical damage (OSHA)

United States Department of Labor

Outside of the United States Department of Labor, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is also responsible for enforcing fire protection regulations. The NFPA has strict requirements for home fire sprinkler systems. Each state in the United States has their own set of codes and regulations enforced by the NFPA in which is accessible through their website. In the case of state jurisdictions, not all states require residential homes to have sprinkler systems, and example would be Michigan. In 2015 it was finalized that homes were no longer required to install sprinkler systems. However, in states such as Missouri, builders are liable for informing residents about sprinkler systems and make them aware of a building not having sprinkler systems (NFPA).

As of March 2018, a large majority of states have put into place statutes regarding carbon monoxide detectors, Fourteen states require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in hotels and motels under the statute. Three of those states which are New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin have other complementary administrative regulations. Two states which are Kansas and Washington have requirements through administrative regulations alone. While another 11 have promoted regulations on CO detectors. It is also a 1600 dollar fine if not installed in California. And according to California Health & Safety Code 17926. A tenant shall be responsible for notifying the owner or owner’s agent if the tenant becomes aware of an non working carbon monoxide device within his or her unit which is the rule in 99% of states that require them or have laws required.

National Fire Protection Association

According to the (NFPA) National Fire Protection Association the presence of sprinklers cuts the chance of death and average property loss from a fire by ½ to 2/3 as compared to scenarios where sprinklers are not present. Each independently operating sprinkler has a heat-sensitive element inside. These elements heat up to the sprinkler’s operating temperature and activate sprinkler head. Buildings may also be equipped with detection systems that will set off an alarm. Some detectors are designed to respond to smoke, and others to heat. In many states, detection systems are required in public buildings, apartment houses, and sometimes even in private homes.

Many high-rise and other large buildings have an system of standpipes connected to fire-hose stations. Trained employees of the building management operate the hoses until the fire department arrives. Fire fighters can also connect their hoses to outlets near the fire. A sprinkler system is an designed system of underground and overhead piping, designed with fire standards, and connected to one or more automatic water supplies. The system is usually activated by heat from a fire, and the sprinkler heads then release water over the fire area. Fire protection systems, fire alarm systems and the fire department are an integral part of society today and continue to save lives and impact communities worldwide.

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Fire Alarm Systems and Safety. (2021, Nov 15). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/fire-alarm-systems-and-safety/

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