Throughout the history of man, tales have sprung up involving a supernatural element or divine aspect to fire. Logically, this makes sense when your continued existence was largely dependent on the ability to start and maintain a fire. Also knowing, however, that the fire you feed so diligently could horrifically maim you or kill you in an instant. Luckily for American’s physical and mental health, the lives of people here do not depend on that capricious element. Also, technology has advanced to a level that a person even two centuries ago would see it as magic. This is not to say that fire has no more potential for destruction. Every year, fires take lives and destroys property, and not only in the places that immediately spring to mind as being at risk, such as homes or restaurants. For example, health care related buildings in the United States averaged 6,240 incidents requiring the response of the U.S. Fire Department. In 2010, 1200 of these fire incidents were in hospitals. Commercial fires do not, however, have nearly as many fatalities or total destruction of property as a direct result of the fire protection services provided by fire protection companies, who offer many ways to make businesses safer. These services can loosely be categorized into three groups, listed and explained below.
- Detection: In order for any positive result to be delivered, the services in place to detect a fire must be functioning correctly and quickly. The most well known under this category are fire alarm services. People may not be fond of the deafening noise it emits when it detects the first efforts of someone learning to cook, but resentment for past annoyances likely fades early detection gave you the chance to climb down 8 flights of stairs at work to reach the exits. Fire alarms do need maintenance and regular inspection, though, the lack of which can cause a system failure that no one learns of until a fire breaks out.
- Extinguishment: Obviously, fire extinguishers are part of this group, but although they are unquestionably useful, the service installed and maintained by fire protection professional is the sprinkler. Fire sprinklers work extremely so long as they are properly maintained. Regular fire sprinkler inspection guarantees a commercial fire sprinkler system will be working in an emergency.
- Suppression: This area of fire protection is used as an alternative to the extinguishing methods. The reason for this is the IT needs of certain companies and of computers in general. After all, how well does a laptop function after being dropped in the pool? So, sprinklers are out. Instead, an automated system detects a fire and uses chemical suppressants to save the computers. This technology is far more costly but far less than the alternative cost to those particular businesses.
These technological advancements give people a level of comparative safety that is unique in the history of the species. Sadly, it is also a safety that most are not able to appreciate.