Fire/life safety: Detection and notification systems
Fire detection systems—including fire, smoke, heat, linear, and intelligent—are required at varying levels in nonresidential buildings.
Fire detection systems—including fire, smoke, heat, linear, and intelligent—are required at varying levels in nonresidential buildings. Based on the building type, the occupants, and codes and standards, fire protection engineers must know which products and systems will best support the owner's needs and authority having jurisdiction's (AHJ) requirements.
Both active and passive fire protection systems are then specified to ensure the safety and well-being of building occupants in case of a fire. As in most industries, the safety of people comes first and property protection is secondary. Protecting the occupants of the building from the effects of fire is the primary objective in the majority of cases; engineers should also be conscious of emergency responders when designing systems.
Notification appliances must be included in the design to ensure building occupants are notified and safely and efficiently evacuated (if necessary). Understanding which systems are most appropriate for a building is paramount to guaranteeing the safe evacuation of building occupants.
- Understand the minimum building codes that govern fire detection and notification systems, such as the International Building Code and a variety of NFPA codes and standards.
- Learn the various active and passive fire protection systems available, and which ones are appropriate to specify in the design.
- Know what mass notification systems (MNS) and emergency communication systems (ECS) must be included in the design of the fire and life safety system (includes discussion of NFPA 72).
- Understand how the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) influences the design of detection and notification systems in a building.
Raymond Grill, PE, FSFPE, Principal, Arup, Washington, D.C.
David Lowrey, Chief Fire Marshal, Boulder, Colo., Fire Rescue
Moderator: Amara Rozgus, Editor in Chief/Content Manager, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, CFE Media