Back in grade school, were you ever the kid who pulled the fire alarm to get out of a test you hadn’t studied for? Maybe you didn’t pull the alarm yourself, but were quite relieved when someone else did it right before you flunked that test. While we know, even as young children, that pulling the lever will cause the alarm to go off, many of us as adults don’t actually know how some of the fire safety technology we rely on every day keeps us and our loved ones safe.

In our previous two articles, we discussed common causes of home and office fires, as well as how to prevent them. While taking preventative measures to reduce the risk of fires is absolutely important, it is also important to understand the types of fire safety technologies available to you. While some technologies (like fire alarms) are more suited for commercial buildings, all four of the following fire safety systems should be understood by everyone, from business owners to homeowners.

Smoke alarms

Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of death in a home fire by 50%. This makes installing them not only recommended, but necessary. Believe it or not, not all smoke alarms are made equally. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are two primary types of smoke alarms that should be used in the home: Ionization smoke alarms and Photoelectric smoke alarms.

Ionization smoke alarms – These smoke alarms work through the use of two electrically charged plates, each of which have a tiny bit of radioactive material between them. When there is no smoke in the air, ions can pass freely through the radioactive material. However, if there is smoke in the room, it will disrupt the flow of ions, setting off the alarm. This makes Ionization smoke alarms ideal for fires with lots of large flames.

Photoelectric smoke alarms – Photoelectric smoke alarms, on the other hand, are better at detecting gradual fires that begin with a lot of smoldering. These alarms work by aiming a light into a cavity that has a sensor in it. If smoke enters the cavity, it reflects the light into the sensor, setting the alarm off.

Unfortunately, while each type of smoke alarm is great in a specific circumstance, neither is ideal in every situation. In order to maximize the safety these devices provide, the NFPA (as well as Mijac Alarm) recommends using both smoke alarm types, or purchasing a combination alarm that utilizes both technologies.

Fire extinguishers

While most people are familiar with fire extinguishers, surprisingly few understand how to properly purchase or operate them. Fire extinguishers are always best when they are well-before their expiration date, and independently tested and verified in a laboratory by a third-party.

Operation of fire extinguishers is slightly unintuitive to some people. The goal is not to aim the nozzle at the top or middle of the flame, but rather at the bottom of the fire. This is due to the fact that fire extinguishers work by smothering, or suffocating, the flame. Make sure to press the level slowly; don’t pump it like a water gun trigger!

Home fire sprinklersWater Sprinkler

Everyone has seen the small metal sprinklers inside every modern public or commercial building. What many people aren’t aware of is that there are similar systems available for the home. Before thinking sprinklers in the home are overkill, consider the fact that the risk of dying in a home fire is reduced by 80% if there are automatic fire sprinklers operating in the home.

Fire alarms

Fire alarms are ideal for buildings that are unoccupied for several hours (or days) at a time, such as an office building. Fire alarms ensure that the fire department is dispatched even if no one is there to call 911. This reduces the chance of catastrophic property damage, loss of life, as well as the risk that the fire will spread to neighboring structures.

The fire alarms we use today are far more advanced than the ones we used as children. Wireless backups and a number of other technologies ensure that the fire department is dispatched even if there is damage to the phone lines. Just make sure your kids study for their tests, as the punishment for improperly pulling a fire alarm has become more severe than when we were kids!

For more information about fire alarms for your business, please call Mijac Alarm during regular business hours at (909)982-7612 or visit our main website by clicking here.

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