With December finally here, the official first day of winter is right around the corner, and many of us have already been facing the first arctic blast of winter. As the cold weather continues to quickly approach, I can’t help but think about all the potential fire risks that increase during this season.
According to UFSA, winter is peak season for heating-related structure fires due to the increased use of heating equipment. Fires involving heating equipment typically start in late fall through mid-winter during the coldest months. Since colder temperatures result in longer operating time for heating, there is more opportunity for that equipment to cause a fire. Unfortunately, winter conditions can cause problems for firefighters responding to a call. Snowy and icy conditions only add to the difficulty of fighting a fire. Not to mention, frozen fire hydrants and water lines can further prolong their firefighting efforts. So, regardless of whether your facility is a healthcare, industrial, educational, or commercial building, it is crucial to make sure the fire barrier protection systems are up-to-date and properly working. A facility’s fire and smoke barriers include:
- Fire and Smoke Dampers
- Fire and Smoke Doors
- Fire-rated Walls / Barriers (Firestopping)
Each system is specifically designed to help prevent the fire from continuing to grow while waiting on first responders to arrive. Fire and smoke dampers help prevent the spread of fire and smoke within the facility’s ductwork system. Fire doors, if kept in the closed position, help contain fire to one specific location of the building by preventing it from spreading between the facility’s barriers. Fire-rated walls, ceilings and floors compartmentalize a building into section to help contain both fire and smoke from spreading throughout the facility. And of course, photoluminescent egress path marking systems and exit signs will continue to glow in smoky or blackout conditions, which allow building occupants to safely navigate their way out of danger.
In order for these systems to work properly they need to be maintained and kept up-to-date with the latest fire safety code. If you are not sure which Building/Fire Codes have been adopted in your hometown, check with your local Fire Marshal or Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Working together, all elements of your fire barrier protection systems will help slow the passage of fire and smoke, while allowing first responders the chance to save lives and properties even when working against winter conditions.