Introduction to Fire Science

Fire in a building project is an unexpected situation that is either likely to arise, or with a high probability depending on professionalism and strategic plans put in place during the services installation phase of the project.

Fire science is the most critical aspect of Building services engineering because of its direct relation to life and property. Fire is the visible effect of the combustion process, which is a combination of heat, fuel, and oxygen in the right proportion.

fire science

Fire-Fighting System is a system deployed to prevent, extinguish, localize, or block fires in building projects by removing any of the three components. An example is the use of fire extinguisher to remove oxygen content or water to relinquish the heat content.

Fire science study in building industry can thus be divided into two;

The Fire Protection System

The Fire Suppression System

 The Fire Protection system is a function of the Electrical building services engineers while the Fire Suppression system is a function of the Mechanical building services engineers.

The Fire Protection System is also known as the Fire Alarm System. This system considers flame being the most destructive bye-product of fire to keep occupants informed of fire incept in the building. The system can be divided into three:

Conventional System

Addressable System

Digital Addressable System

The Fire Suppression System is concerned with the process of controlling a raging fire by an automatic or manual mode by specializing Fire-fighters or home occupants. This system can be divided into two:

The Water Suppression System

The Gaseous Suppression System

The Water Suppression System comprises of the sprinkler system, fire hydrant system, and the hose reel or hose cabinet system. The sprinkler system is an automatic system that can either be through the use of ordinary water or the less dense water call foam while the fire hydrant and the hose reel systems are the manual systems.

The Gaseous Suppression System comprises the use of chemical gas such as FM-200, CO2, Novak, or inert gases like Nitrogen, Argon, and Aerosol to control the fire. The system may be automatic, or a manual powder-based termed fire extinguisher system.

An integrated approach is required to consider the project type while planning, designing, and installing any of the systems.

It is also necessary for Building services engineers to have a sound understanding of the relevant design codes, standards, and, most often, the building insurance carrier requirements before undertaking any project. 

The Standard describes which system is required for a project type and how it should be constructed. They are not mandatory, but serve as national recommendations, with some variation for regional climate. They are published by national organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association, popularly known as NFPA.

fire science

The Codes are the written rules and regulations that are adopted as law to specify when and where a standard is required. They are selected, modified, and enforced by States or local governments.

fire science

Common Codes and Standards in fire science include:

NFPA 1 Fire Code 

NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers

NFPA 12 Standards on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems

NFPA 13 Standards for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems

NFPA 14 Standards for the Installation of Standpipes and Hose Systems

NFPA 15 Standard for Water Spray Fixed Systems for Fire Protection

NFPA 16 Standards for the Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler and Foam-Water Spray Systems

NFPA 20 Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection

NFPA 22 Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection 

NFPA 24 Standards for the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains and Their Appurtenances (Fire hydrant & underground piping) 

NFPA 25 Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems

NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code

NFPA 54 National Fuel Gas Code

NFPA 70 National Electrical Code

NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code (This is actually a standard even though it is called a code)

NFPA 92 Standards for Smoke Control Systems

NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code

NFPA 101 Life Safety Code

NFPA 220 Standards on Types of Building Construction 

 NFPA 750 Standards on Water Mist Fire Protection Systems 

 NFPA 2001 Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems

NFPA 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code

IBC International Building Codes

BS 1635, Recommendations for Graphic Symbols and Abbreviations for Fire Protection Drawings

BS 5266 Emergencyownload NFPA

Download NFPA Standards and Codes

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