Fire and life safety system design
Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Both active and passive fire protection systems are specified to ensure the safety and well-being of building occupants in case of a fire. As in most industries, the safety of people comes first and property protection is secondary. Protecting the occupants of the building from the effects of fire is the primary objective in the majority of cases; engineers should be aware of the contents and intent of the building when specifying fire detection, notification and suppression systems.

Fire alarm systems with varying features are required in nonresidential buildings. Based on the building type and its contents, the occupancy and the minimum requirements within the codes and standards, fire protection engineers must know which products and systems will best support the owner’s needs and authority having jurisdiction’s requirements.

Notification appliances must be included in the design to ensure building occupants are notified and safely and efficiently evacuated (if necessary). Understanding which systems are most appropriate for a building is paramount to guaranteeing the safe evacuation of building occupants.

Suppression systems, such as fire sprinklers or clean agent systems, also will be discussed in order to assist the engineer in selecting the correct systems to specify.

Learning objectives:

  • Explain the minimum building codes that govern fire detection, notification and suppression systems, such as the International Building Code, International Fire Code and a variety of NFPA codes and standards.
  • Assess the various active fire protection and suppression systems available, and which ones are appropriate to specify in the design.
  • Learn about mass notification systems to alert the occupants and first responders (includes a brief discussion of NFPA 72, including MNS and emergency communication systems).
  • Apply this knowledge by reviewing recent fire/life safety protection design examples.