Minimal Functional Requirements for Effective, Automatic Exterior Building Fire Protection Systems

Minimal Functional Requirements for Effective, Automatic Exterior Building Fire Protection Systems

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Exterior building fires present a very real threat and are particularly difficult for firefighters to effectively combat.

Fire grows exponentially. Unless a fire is detected and extinguished very quickly, it rapidly spreads out of control. Rapid detection and rapid extinguishing are therefore the two crucial elements to minimizing loss of life and property.

This is common knowledge and is the reason that building interiors have detection systems and sprinkler systems. Building exteriors should be treated no differently and should be equipped with effective, automatic protection, particularly where the material used on the building’s exterior is prone to rapid spreading of fire when it does break out.

When a fire starts on the exterior of a building, the goals are always to quickly detect the flame and quickly aim a high volume stream of water onto the flame to extinguish it. The combined time of these two factors directly determines the severity of damage and whether the fire can be extinguished at all.

Fully automatic, permanently-installed automatic fire detection and extinguishing systems are now available, which are capable of very rapid detection and extinguishing—indeed much faster than is possible to achieve by the traditional means of simply waiting for someone to notice the fire, call the fire brigade and await their arrival.

The following minimum functions are required of any effective automatic detection and extinguishing system for the protection of high-rise building exteriors:

  • Rapid Detection: the system must be able to detect a fire rapidly (within seconds, not minutes).
  • 3D Location: the system must be able to accurately determine the three-dimensional position and volume of the flames in 3-dimensional space.
  • Automatic, Accurate, Dynamic Aiming: the system must be able to quickly aim a large volume of water directly onto the flames, and it must be able to dynamically follow the flames if the fire grows or spreads.
  • Multiple Flames: the system must be able to handle multiple fires simultaneously.
  • Automation and Autonomy: the system must be able to activate and function completely autonomously, without any external network or power and without any human intervention.
  • Web Server: the system must have a built in web-server for system monitoring and allow for remote control by designated persons. This provides a number of benefits, including allowing firefighters to remotely control each nozzle, allowing a central command center to activate nozzles on neighboring buildings to self-protect and support extinguishing, and providing personnel with real-time alerts—both to fires detected as well as to any functional errors on the system, should they occur.

A more detailed description of full, minimum-recommended system specifications for any effective automatic system for exterior building fire protection can be found in the document, entitled, “MATERIAL REQUISITION OF A FULLY AUTOMATIC FIRE DETECTION & HIGH-FLOW, ROBOTIC NOZZLE SUPPRESSION SYSTEM” (“Material Requisition”) (click here to download).

The FlameRanger system, jointly presented by Unifire AB & Tyco, meet or exceed all of the functions described above, and all of the specifications set out in the Material Requisition.