What are they, what are they for, how do they work?

Automatic Fire Extinguishing Systems are systems that use water or other agents  than water as an extinguishing agent and that have the capacity to detect and extinguish/control a fire, in its initial phase, automatically, that is, without the need for human intervention.

Over the last few years these systems have been used in the control and extinguishing of fires, in the most varied areas of application.

But what are these systems anyway?

They are equipment composed of several components depending on their manufacturer and their purpose.

In general, this mechanism is manufactured taking into account two lines of action:

1) Detection

2) Extinction

Mainly composed of:

a) Trigger mechanism;

b) Control and signaling equipment;

c) Containers for storing the extinguishing agent and, when applicable, the propellant;

d) Duct networks for the extinguishing agent;

e) Discharge nozzles.

And what are they for, what is their purpose?

In the legislation, the existence of these systems in certain spaces (industry, catering, hotels, among others) is mandatory in compliance with the rules set out in Decree Law No. 220/2008.

In civic responsibility, the protection of your assets, the assets of third parties and the safety of people (employees, customers, the general public) must never be questioned, for this very reason, we must safeguard against all types of risks that may arise from the activity exercised daily in our business.

Having an automatic fire extinguishing system is like hiring a firefighter with a permanent presence on place equipped with adequate firefighting means for the space.

These systems are applied in production/transformation/confection areas where the risk of fire is a constant threat due to the activity carried out and where human intervention may be late or ineffective, causing the fire to spread, putting people’s lives and local property at risk, and proximity.

With dual functionality, these systems have their greatest value in detecting and extinguishing the fire right at the beginning.

How do they work?

Simple, the system, as its characteristics indicate, is automatic, it must detect and extinguish any type of fire by itself.

However, as provided for, in the fire safety regulations in buildings, all installations must have a manual activation system through a strategically characterized and applied push-button switch, with easy activation access.

Each automatic extinguishing equipment must have the following functionalities:

1. Fire detection

2. Automatic extinction activation

3. Manual extinction activation

4. Audible and visual alarms

5. Forcibly stop the supply of electricity or combustion in the production line, cooking or protected space.

The definition of the type of security solution to be applied implies a detailed study of the space to be protected based on a risk assessment that takes into account all its particularities and weaknesses.

Aspects such as risk types, fuel load, compartmentalization, ventilation, fuel situation, total application, local application, among others, are highlighted.

The result of the study will in turn allow the elaboration of the design and calculation of the entire system, and define the type of system, the types and location of the nozzles, the flow of each nozzle, the total flow, the reserve of extinguishing agent required, among other parameters.

In this way, systems must be evaluated in the combined context of a suppression and risk system, and not just under the functionality of extinction.

Written by: Paulo Almeida – Technician responsible for SCIE equipment and systems | Automatic extinguishing systems using agents other than water and nebulized water, accredited by ANEPC

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