Smoke detectors, sturdy boots, and a sharp pair of eyes. Those are traditional tools facility managers use to reduce the risk of fire in buildings, factories, schools and hospitals. With nearly 100,000 non-residential building fires annually in the US alone, resulting in thousands of injuries, hundreds of deaths, and billions of dollars in repairs and insurance costs, traditional tools are no longer sufficient.
Sensor technology is now giving facility managers digital tools to get advanced warning before fires start and even prevent fires from happening altogether. Proactive facilities managers are leveraging advanced sensors and embedded technology to continuously monitor facility conditions, triggering alerts when conditions exceed acceptable thresholds.
Sensors aren’t just used in new buildings. Rapid advances in sensor technology have made it possible to retrofit older facilities with an array of sensors, so managers can improve the fidelity and coverage area, while reducing the need to continuously walk the floor and spot potential trouble spots.
Disruptive Technologies sensors monitor potential fire hazards, helping you ensure compliance with local fire codes and insurance regulations, and prevent accidents before they happen.
Sensors on Equipment Prevent a Fire from Starting
Fires due to electrical and heating equipment are among the top five causes of non-residential fires. When not properly monitored and maintained, equipment can have electrical malfunctions and overheat, causing fires.
Overheating equipment is responsible for 11% of the 100k fires in office properties in the US each year. Equipment malfunction – electrical and mechanical – represents an even higher percentage of fires in Germany (34%).
To reduce the risk of fires, sensors help you perform preventative maintenance on all equipment, electrical and heating systems, and address deferred maintenance on a timely schedule.
Sensors can be placed on equipment to monitor their heat signatures, helping to establish baseline performance and indicate when it is drifting beyond accepted norms. These trends, which are not visible to the naked eye, can trigger maintenance.
Using sensors to monitor equipment means you will know immediately when temperature spikes unexpectedly or equipment misfires. You’ll avoid catastrophe, reduce time and cost recovering from a potential fire and any related increase in insurance or decrease in business operations.
Sensors on Fire Doors Contain Damage and Ensure Compliance
Properly designed facilities are structured to limit the damage should a fire occur. Simple precautions, such as strategically located fire extinguishers and closed fire doors, can be very effective, but only if they are present and properly used.
Facility managers use sensors to verify that containment efforts are functioning as expected. Sensors can track when fire extinguishers are present, and when they need to be replaced. With sensors collecting and reporting data continuously, there is less urgency to have a facility manager walk around the entire building just to confirm that fire extinguishers are present; they can instead focus on the ones which are known to be missing.
Sensors can be used to monitor whether a fire door is open or closed, and the exact time it may have been propped open. With this data in hand, a facilities manager can react immediately to an open fire door. By understanding when a fire door was opened, they can proactively target education and prevention efforts.
What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You
Sensors can transform a facility into one where fire prevention becomes automatic. Facility managers can focus on addressing exceptions rather than manually tracking down which doors might be ajar or discovering too late which piece of equipment might soon become a fire hazard.