What is fire safety?

Fire safety is a new domain emerged in the early 90s to enable the design of buildings, structures, and infrastructure against destruction through fire. It also includes the provisions of building codes. This field is mostly associated with the design and efficient planning of a building, to reduce the destruction caused by fire. The branch of engineering that deals with it for the safety of the buildings from destruction of fire, is known as fire safety engineering.

Fire safety engineering

Fire safety engineering can be defined as the branch of engineering that uses engineering and scientific principles for the fire-safe design of buildings and infrastructures. Fire safety engineering thrives to engage itself in creating such an environment that provides home safety and life safety.

The spread of fire can be compared with the spread of (coronavirus disease) COVID-19 as in the present pandemic. Hence, there lies a requirement of professionals that can provide efficient solutions in case of fire hazards. These professionals are known as fire safety engineers. The work of a fire safety engineer is to identify risks and design fire safety plans, fire safety equipment and fire-related safety materials. Fire safety engineers often engage with architects for aid in designing fire escape plans.

Basic fire safety equipment

There are various types of equipment that are used in a building to make the building fire safe. Some of them are discussed below-

Carbon Monoxide detector

It is an equipment installed in a building to early detect the presence of carbon monoxide in an area to avoid carbon smoke poisoning. Materials having an excess amount of carbon produces carbon monoxide when they are burnt. The production of carbon monoxide gas is responsible for asphyxiation during fire.

Carbon monoxide detector
CC BY-SA 4.0 | Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Andy Mabbett

Fire extinguishers

They are used for a fast response to fire detection. They are mostly handled by the occupants of the building before the fire fighting service arrives. 

Fire extinguisher
CC 1.0 | Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org | George Hodan

Automatic sprinkler systems

The automatic fire sprinklers are miniature devices mounted on the ceiling of a building. They include sensors to detect smoke. On detecting smoke, valves which are connected to water tanks get mechanically opened . Water is sprinkled at high pressure on the smoke detection spot having a possibility of fire. They are quick in response and require less maintenance.

Automatic sprinkler systems
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Brandon Leon

Fire hydrant system

It is a water reticulation system present near the premises of a building. They limit the number of hoses that firefighters have to lay to carry out during the fire fighting, thus reducing the time of action needed to set up the fire fighting equipment.

Fire hydrant system
CC BY-SA 4.0 | Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Fredful

Heat detectors

These are thermal energy detectors installed in buildings. These kinds of devices have a threshold of thermal energy, which is coded as dangerous in its system. It remains inactivated during normal room temperatures and with body temperatures. On detection of extreme temperature, as in the case of fire, the alarm gets triggered.

An image showing fire safety equipment in a construction site
CC0 1.0 PDD | Image Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org | Anna Frodesiak

Escape plans

Different fire escape plans are used for different buildings such as houses, commercials, complexes and so on in case of a fire hazard. Some of them are summarized below.

Home fire escape plan

To carry out home fire safety, an inspection of doors and windows that could serve as an emergency exit is mandatory. Then, draw a fire escape plan based on the inspection. While making the escape plan, all the routes to the emergency exit must be cleared and be free from any blockage. Installation of smoke alarms in every bedroom is mandatory, as a closed-door slows down the spread of smoke and odor of burnt ashes. Installing a smoke or heat alarm will make the other members of the family learn about the emergency. Choosing an outside meeting place should be done well in advance, where every family member can meet after escaping the fire emergency. Having an infant or a family member with limitations should be assigned with a person, so to assist them to a safe meeting place. Ensure checking the fire alarms for any faults and perform maintenance every year for its efficient functioning. The doors and windows should also be periodically checked for smooth operations.

Building/commercials fire safety plan 

To create an efficient fire safety plan for commercial complexes and office complexes and to make an emergency fire escape plan, the National Fire Protection Association should be approached. Some common and basic practices should be followed by the occupants of the building in case of a fire emergency. The building evacuation plan should be thoroughly studied and memorized by every individual to make an efficient and quick escape. The primary and secondary exists must be known to all and one should not use the elevators during a fire emergency. Contact of the state fire marshal should be made as soon as any possible signs of fire are noticed.

Potential fire causing equipment

Any building, whether a house or a commercial office complex or a business park, all use certain materials which might cause fire hazards if not utilized properly or due to poor maintenance. Few of the potential equipment are discussed below.

Space heaters

Space heaters are commercial devices that run on electrical energy. These devices are required to keep the interiors warm during winters. Due to faulty wiring or during a short circuit, these small devices can turn the entire building ablaze. Hence, periodic checkups and maintenance are very necessary for such devices.

Gasoline operated equipment

Equipment making use of gasoline such as generators, which is used to power the entire building, is one of the most potential equipment for a fire hazard. Any gasoline leakage due to a faulty pipeline may result in a disaster.

Electrical hazards

Improper circuitry and faults in the Miniature Circuit Breaker or MCB can lead to a fire hazard in a building.

Individual smoking

Sometimes people throw away cigarette filters on an area that may contain combustible substances. It is risky and can lead to a fire disaster.

Fire safety measures

For life safety and to safeguard buildings, the best way is to have a fire safety awareness program. Various online training modules are available to educate people about the dos and don'ts during a fire hazard. One must also follow fire safety tips and join awareness programs to acquire the skills and best practices required to tackle a fire hazard situation.

Context and Applications

The following topic finds its content in the early school curriculum. The topic is also considered for graduate and post-graduate programs such as

  • Bachelor in Science in Physics
  • Master in Science in Physics
  • Bachelors in Science in Fire safety engineering

Practice Problems

  1. Which of the following is fire safety equipment?
  1. Automatic sprinklers
  2. Heat and smoke alarm
  3. Fire extinguishers
  4. All of these

Correct option- d

Explanation- Automatic sprinklers, heat and smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire hydrant systems are all fire safety equipment installed in building premises to safeguard the building and lives.

2. Which of the following is potential equipment for fire hazards in buildings?

  1. Smoke detectors
  2. Faulty electrical devices
  3. Space heaters
  4. Both b and c

Correct option- d

Explanation- The presence of faulty electrical devices and space heaters, due to poor preventive maintenance and short circuit leads to a spark and possibly causes fire.

3. Which of the following is the work of a fire safety engineer?

  1. Design and identify risks for preparation of fire safety devices
  2. Assist architects in designing fire safety plans and escape plans
  3. Design fire fighting devices
  4. All of these

Correct option- d

Explanation- A fire safety engineer is an engineer who identifies risks and designs fire safety equipment. Fire safety engineers also assist architects in designing fire escape plans.

4. Which is the following is an essential methodology in creating a home fire escape plan?

  1. Perform regular maintenance of the doors, as doors are an easy way of escape
  2. Choosing a narrow pathway that leads to some open area
  3. Inspecting periodically the doors and windows especially those which are marked as emergency exits for possible jamming.
  4. None of these

Correct option- c

Explanation- The doors and windows marked as fire exits for an emergency, should be periodically checked and maintained to avoid malfunctioning such as jamming during the case of a fire emergency.

5. State True or False for the given statement

The doors of an emptied room should be closed in case of a fire emergency.

Correct option- True

Explanation- Closing the doors in case of a fire will reduce the spread of harmful smoke. Also, the doors and windows of a modern building are constructed by making use of fireproof materials, thus closing them will reduce the fire spread.

Want more help with your mechanical engineering homework?

We've got you covered with step-by-step solutions to millions of textbook problems, subject matter experts on standby 24/7 when you're stumped, and more.
Check out a sample mechanical engineering Q&A solution here!

*Response times may vary by subject and question complexity. Median response time is 34 minutes for paid subscribers and may be longer for promotional offers.

Search. Solve. Succeed!

Study smarter access to millions of step-by step textbook solutions, our Q&A library, and AI powered Math Solver. Plus, you get 30 questions to ask an expert each month.

Tagged in
EngineeringMechanical Engineering

Manufacturing Engineering and Technology

Workshop Safety

Fire Safety

Fire safety Homework Questions from Fellow Students

Browse our recently answered Fire safety homework questions.

Search. Solve. Succeed!

Study smarter access to millions of step-by step textbook solutions, our Q&A library, and AI powered Math Solver. Plus, you get 30 questions to ask an expert each month.

Tagged in
EngineeringMechanical Engineering

Manufacturing Engineering and Technology

Workshop Safety

Fire Safety