With only a few weeks left of summer vacation, educational facilities across the country are once again preparing for the upcoming school year. Every year, colleges and universities are responsible for providing their students with the resources to better their education as well as providing their students with a safe learning environment. Fire and life safety preparedness is crucial not only to its occupants, but also to the parents who have entrusted facility personnel to maintain the safety of their students. As a facility manager, you have a lot of ground to cover with dozens of classrooms, administrative, recreational, and residential buildings on your campus. Both Fire and smoke can spread quickly, which is why it is important for an educational campus to maintain its fire barrier systems in order to combat a fire and prevent it from causing unnecessary damage. These systems include Fire Doors, Fire & Smoke Dampers, Firestopping as well as Photoluminescent Egress Path Markers and Exit Signage. But how exactly do these systems prevent both fire and smoke from spreading, while also keeping it occupants safe during evacuation?
Fire doors prevent the spread of fire and smoke between the facility’s fire barriers. They serve as a regular door by giving you an easy outlet during a fire, while compartmentalizing the building to help prevent the spread of fire, smoke and toxic fumes. The best places for a fire door is leading to a stairwell or any horizontal exits, hazardous areas, hallways or corridors, and any fully enclosed room to another.
According to The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 80 requires that, “Fire door assemblies must be inspected and tested annually, with a written record of the inspection signed and kept for the inspection by the AHJ.”
Fire dampers are used in ducts to prevent the spread of fire within the duct work through fire-resistance rated walls and floors. When the temperature rises, it melts the fusible link, which shuts the damper and prevents the spread of flame. Similarly, smoke dampers are used in duct work designed to resist the passage of air and smoke. Typically a smoke detector will send a signal to the smoke damper that will close by an actuator when smoke is detected.
According to NFPA inspection of fire, smoke, and combination dampers must be tested and inspected every 4 years.
Fire walls, ceilings and floors help to contain both fire and smoke to its original location. Firestopping is the maintenance of these facility’s fire barriers. It is crucial that walls be properly repaired when damaged, altered, breached or penetrated in any way. Caulking is the procedure used to seal joints in structures and some types of piping.
According to the International Fire Code (IFC), “Firewalls, partitions, smoke barriers, ceilings and floors must be maintained annually and properly repaired, restored or replaced when damaged, altered, breached or penetrated.”
Photoluminescent Egress Path Marking Systems and Exit Signs
Photoluminescent egress path marking system and exit signs are used to help illuminate steps, landings, handrails and any other obstacles. PL allows a building to have continuous visual support for up to 48 hours in black out or smoky condition. It requires no electricity, and produces sunlight or recycles existing electrical light.
Both IFC and IBC requires approved luminous egress path markings outlining exit paths must be provided in buildings having occupied floors located more than 75 ft. above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.”
Be prepared this school year, by ensuring your students, faculty, and staff will be protected in the event of a fire emergency!