Whenever you run a business there is a lot to learn – not just about your industry but about all the support systems that allow you to operate legally and safely. From insurance, to legal-speak to safety codes, there’s a lot to take in and understand. When it comes to fire safety, it’s no different.
But don’t fret – we’re not here to overwhelm you! We’re here to help drill down some of the lingo you should know and be aware of so that your workspace is safe and that you know what needs to be done and why it needs to be done. Here are four basic terms you should know when it comes to your businesses’ fire safety.
This is a big one. NFPA stands for ‘National Fire Protection Association’ and to put it briefly – they’re the big dog on the block when it comes to issuing industry standards for safety. They come up with revised regulations every 3-5 years and they’re there so everyone is singing from the same sheet of music when it comes to fire safety.
They come with a few major codes which are worth knowing:
NFPA 10 is basically anything to do with fire extinguishers. NFPA 25 is everything that has to do with sprinkler systems. Finally, there’s NFPA 72, which is your alarm system.
You don’t need to know these codes inside and out, but when you hear them brought up by an inspector or fire safety professional, that’s what they’re talking about when they’re tossing codes around.
Wet and dry pipe
Whenever you’re looking to install or upgrade a sprinkler system, there are two main types of sprinklers – wet and dry pipes. They make up basically all of the sprinkler systems you’d see in a run of the mill commercial space.
Wet pipe systems are the most common and they draw off a water supply to spray water and the pressure at which the water is distributed is what will put out a fire. The pipes are like any water pipe – they’re always full of water and with that comes some good and some bad. If the pipes burst, you’ll have a water problem so like any plumbing asset, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re inspected regularly.
Dry pipes draw off a water source that’s hooked up right next to the sprinkler valve. Those pipes aren’t full of water; instead, they’re full of compressed air. When the sprinkler head pops, the airflow opens up in the valve and out comes the water. If you work in a building with little heat, this is the type of system you’ll be most likely to encounter. You see a lot of them in parking garages and the like – and they basically exist to make sure that the pipes won’t burst in the cold temperature.
Clean Agents is a fancy term to describe chemical suppression systems. Chemical suppression is used in places where you don’t want water to do a number on anything that might get destroyed by water. People use these in data centers, museums, or anyplace where there’s water sensitive equipment of installations.
Backflow is basically what happens when a liquid, gas or solid back up into a water supply and contaminate your water. These are commonly used in wet pipe configurations so that bad stuff doesn’t get into the water. After all – a leaky pipe or fire are bad enough – you don’t need any other potential hazards contaminating your space in addition to all that!
So there are your big four. Whenever you call a company like ours, chances are that it’ll be related to one of those four things. So if you do call us, then next time you’ll know what we’re talking about before we show up – and hey – maybe a more trained eye on your part could get out in front of an issue before it becomes a problem. Good luck!