For business or the home, a proper fire safety infrastructure is something often required by law. Yet, the fire safety approach taken by business owners and homeowners is something that is bound to be considerably different, with different priorities and, naturally, a different level of investment involved. Most essentially, fire safety is a common-sense investment.
Unsurprisingly then, this has led to a thriving market for fire safety products, in turn driving technological innovation that has seen fire safety becoming not only more efficient but more discrete too. Any business or homeowner will want to prioritize a fire safety infrastructure that isn’t excessively conspicuous and does not fill a place of work or abode with unsightly signage and equipment. Technological innovation is responding to this need. Far from there being any compromise on safety, the latest gadgets and systems now on the market are only improvements in this area.
In particular, it is best for residential fire safety systems to be as close to invisible as possible. In the past, this was simply a matter of downscaling, installing smaller versions of the equipment in place at larger commercial or industrial properties, whether that be small fire extinguishers, discrete alarms, or signage. Innovative technologies, however, are proving that fire safety in the home can be much more sophisticated than that.
For places of work, more obtrusive fire safety equipment has been long accepted, whether that be large fire doors, fire extinguisher stations, or conspicuous signage indicating exits and rally points. Here too, technology is making a difference and only improving on the level of safety provided.
This is all against the backdrop of ever-changing fire safety rules, regulations, guidelines, and government requirements. These are all constantly being updated and developed. New fire safety technology, though, is more than keeping pace with these changes.
And as our society becomes more eco-conscious, developers of fire safety technology are placing increased emphasis on fire products that have less of an environmental impact, use less harmful substances, and waste less of the resources needed to operate them. Water sprinklers have long been considered an excessive waste of water, while fire extinguishing agents can very often be pollutants of the worst order. These are concerns to be tackled.
So just what is this new fire safety technology – for the home and the workplace – that seeks to address the most pressing concerns such as discretion, sustainability, and effectiveness? Here is a list of the most innovative fire safety technologies. This is very much the cutting edge.
For the Home
When it comes to residential fire safety, there is an important balancing act, namely combining effectiveness and the ever-present aesthetic concerns of living space. Nobody wants their home to be filled with unsightly fire safety equipment, such as you would see in a place of work. Happily, for us, innovation is constantly finding new ways to strike that balance.
Advanced Smoke/Heat Detection Systems
Of course, smoke and heat detectors have been with us for a long time. And yet, despite the countless lives they have almost certainly saved, they have for just as long been the bane of many a homeowner. Smoke and heat detectors are designed to alert residents to the beginnings of a fire, allowing for effective control before it gets out of hand.
A major drawback that has long plagued such technology is that they are designed to be as sensitive as possible to detect a fire early. This might seem like a good thing, but a smoke or heat detector that is oversensitive can be set off by any number of non-hazardous situations, such as the smoke produced by cooking or smoking a cigarette indoors.
Data suggests, unfortunately, that this has led to the common practice among homeowners of disconnecting these alarms rather than being disturbed by a piercing noise every time they decide to cook dinner. The hazards implicit in this are obvious, but thankfully innovation is finding a way out of this impasse.
The most innovative smoke alarms now available can actually distinguish between hazardous and non-hazardous smoke. The principle behind this technology is that smoke produced by different combustible materials has a different particle size, which these new alarms can detect. This encourages users not to disconnect their alarm and significantly reduces the number of disruptive false alarms.
Environmentally Friendly Fire Sealants
Fire sealants are an essential part of any home’s fire safety infrastructure, helping to stop the spread of fires from room to room. The trouble is that many of the chemicals used in these sealants have been shown to be environmental pollutants and actually harmful to occupants of the building.
The harm stems from chemical reactions that can take place between the sealant and the material to which it is being applied. Chemical components of the sealant known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are blamed for causing these reactions, producing toxic substances. Recently, however, new sealants that contain no such VOCs have appeared on the market.
Although human safety is paramount, the property damage sustained in a fire can be devastating, delivering a substantial financial hit to victims. Fireproof safes have, of course, been around for a while, but they have never been safer.
It is now possible to buy a fireproof safe that is not just “the best place” to store gadgets, passports, money, jewelry, and other valuables, but one that can guarantee the survival of anything placed within.
Places of Work
Fire Safety in workplaces naturally has to contend with the risk of far more serious fires over a larger area, but there is a happy trade-off in that aesthetic concerns are less of an issue. It is arguably in fire technology of this kind that the most innovative solutions have been developed.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The advance of smart technology has been staggering. What was once known as “smartphones” are now more and more being referred to simply as phones, so accepted and ubiquitous has the technology become. Now fire safety is feeling the influence of this unstoppable trend.
Recent years have seen the development of so-called “smart buildings,” which would utilize an integrated network of heat, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors to potentially detect fires earlier and with more precision than more traditional systems. These smart buildings would also combine the data, gauge the severity of the fire, and pass that along to fire services before they even leave the station.
Water Mist Fire Suppression
Sprinkler systems are another item of fire safety infrastructure (more common in places of work) that are effective at controlling fire. However, the problem is that they are not particularly sustainable, using a great deal of water each time they are set off.
Enter a new generation of water sprinklers designed to deploy a mist instead of the more traditional shower. This not only saves on the water by dispersing it in much smaller particle sizes, but it has also been shown to be much more effective when it comes to actually extinguish the fire. Combined with smoke and heat detectors that can distinguish between hazardous and non-hazardous smoke, this technology has the potential to prevent a great deal of water damage and wastage.
Another upgrade of a traditional product, the last item on our list, is nothing more than the humble fire extinguisher, a staple of fire safety that has been around and seems set to be around for some time yet.
Yet while the fire extinguishing agent found inside has in the past been composed of all manner of serious pollutants, a new generation of fire extinguishers are making use of no such chemicals, dispersing an agent that can drain into the environment with little or no harm. And there would seem to be no trade-off on effectiveness either.