Students and government employees have the right to a safe educational and/or working environment.  Many buildings that house students and government workers are getting older and require frequent maintenance and even updates to the facilities.  As global outreach increases and infrastructure rehabilitation funding decreases, federal, state and municipal have introduced extensive regulations to safeguard children and family members from fire dangers and to ensure the fire protection systems in place are running at optimal levels.

Fire Safety

Fire drills have been a fact of life for students and government workers for years.  Practicing the proper maneuvers and having a fire plan are great steps in the effort to save lives during a fire emergency.  Installing, updating, and maintaining fire protection systems are also vital to ensuring everyone safely escapes the danger during a fire emergency.  The key components to any fire safety system for an educational or municipal facility include fire alarms, smoke alarms, fire hydrants, fire pumps, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers.

Fire alarms and smoke alarms are usually the first signals to building occupants that there is an emergency.  The alarms are equipped with sensors that can detect smoke and/or heat.  Once the heat or smoke is detected, the alarm will emit a loud sound to capture the attention of the occupants.  Many times the alarms will also have a strobe light to allow equal warning to both hearing and visually handicapped individuals.

Everyone and their dog recognizes the neighborhood fire hydrant, but not every fire hydrant is the same.  Fire hydrants are crucial to putting out fires, and firemen rely on them heavily.  Regulations require no more than 400 to 600 feet of distance from any building to a fire hydrant.  Hydrants come in different colors, and each color represents different water flow capabilities.  The coloring on the hydrants aids firefighters by alerting them to the output power of the hydrant.

Fire pumps are used with sprinklers in fire protection systems.  These pumps pull water from public water supplies at a high pressure to suppress a fire before it has a chance to spread.

Sprinkler systems are vital to any fire protection system.  Fire sprinkler systems effectively reduce heat and flames and wash out smoke from the air, allowing building occupants a way to evacuate the facility usually before firefighters arrive.  The sprinklers will deploy when the air above them reaches a certain temperature.  The system recognizes the increase in temperature, and, because the sprinkler system is always on standby with water in the hoses, they will deploy once that temperature is reached.

Fire hydrants are handy tools in a fire suppression system because they are portable.  This portability allows building occupants a chance to put out a small fire before it spreads and becomes more dangerous and decimates the structure.

It is imperative and required by law, that the fire protection systems for government buildings and educational facilities are inspected regularly to identify any issues or concerns with the operating fire protection system.  According to § 69A-58.004 of the Florida Uniform Firesafety Standards for Educational Facilities, the state of Florida requires one annual inspection of educational facilities and will coincide with the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association.  Inspectors will review the entire fire safety and protection system to confirm all aspects of the system are fully functional.

Fire alarms and smoke alarms need to be inspected to confirm the battery backup, alarm itself and all electrical parts are not in need of replacement or repair.  Fire hydrants outwardly seem easy to maintain; however, a large part of the fire hydrant system is underground and needs to be inspected to ensure all valves are working properly and that the area near the fire hydrant is clear from debris.  Inspections of fire pumps are necessary to ensure the pump motors are working efficiently and the pressure of the flow output meet necessary standards.  It is important to ensure your sprinkler systems are properly functioning as backflow may become an issue, which can result in your potable water becoming contaminated.  In order for a fire extinguisher to deploy properly, it needs to be full, free of rust, and operating with the proper amount of pressure.  A certified inspector will be able to ensure all of the components of your fire safety system are functioning at optimal levels and are ready for you in case of an emergency.

Security in an Educational Building
Security in an Educational Building

Building Security

Technology is a phenomenal thing!  Modern building security systems also play a vital role in allowing students and government employees to evacuate the premises in an orderly and timely fashion to protect lives.  Unsurprisingly, Bosch is leading the way when it comes to upgrading building security to incorporate evacuation systems.  With advances like phased evacuation, intelligent zoning and Bosch assist, facility managers can coordinate an orderly evacuation that will save lives.

Phased evacuation integrates with a buildings access system, fire alarm system, and intercom systems to ensure the areas in the most danger are alerted first and given priority evacuation instructions.  Each floor or area will be alerted based on its location to the pressing danger.  This system helps reduce crowding and chaos, allowing more people to evacuate safely.

Intelligent zoning is a way for security systems to utilize their video camera systems as an identification device for certain items or situations.  The cameras are “taught” to identify these specific scenarios and will alert people in the afflicted zone to any imminent danger.

Bosch assist allows facility managers to communicate with system cameras and sensors to monitor specific areas for dangers or coordinate action in case of an emergency.  This allows managers to be on top of the action, ensuring everyone is able to clear an area and no one is left behind.

In our current climate of upheaval, it is important that government buildings and educational facilities are safe for workers and students.  Unfortunately, vicious fires can ravage a facility in a very small amount of time.  Ensuring the facility is properly equipped with functioning and maintained fire suppression equipment is the best way to protect these workers and students.

Tampa Bay is home to one of the best full-service fire prevention teams around.  A Total Solution is here to ensure your fire suppression system is working at optimal levels.  Contact us now for a free business fire protection assessment.