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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How Data Can Predict Building Fires

11/2/2021 (Permalink)

inspector with clipboard checking a fire extinguisher A proper evaluation of the building or structure must take place for an accurate assessment of the fire risk level.

A fire can have a devastating impact on any building –– commercial or residential. Thus, the ability to predict building fires is more critical than ever. Fortunately, technological developments in fire research, data collection, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics have provided essential information to many industries and fields to help ensure safety.

Furthermore, data analytics not only assess fire risk but can now predict fires. This blog will explore exactly how data can help predict building fires and what fire risk assessments entail when managing fire risks for your building.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire risk assessment is an evaluation of the different hazards that exist within a building. These risks are then prioritized based on their impact and likelihood to create hazardous conditions for occupants, visitors, or others who work in the building.

To conduct this type of analysis, you must consider multiple factors (for example, combustible materials, electrical equipment) and elements related to how fires spread, such as ventilation.

In addition to these considerations, a proper evaluation of the building or structure must take place for an accurate assessment of fire risk level and appropriate countermeasures to be put into practice.

Why is it Important for Businesses and Cities?

A fire risk assessment and analysis can help a business and city minimize the risk of fire. Moreover, if cities have various buildings with a significant risk for fire, they can take the necessary steps to correct this issue and prevent fires from occurring.

Otherwise, buildings left unprotected due to poor risk analysis can result in a major catastrophe. Surrounding businesses may even suffer damages as a result of the fire spreading. In turn, all those affected must undergo extensive repair and restoration efforts.

Business recovery after a natural disaster is often tricky and time-consuming. Thus, it's critical to ensure your facility is in good working order and free of hazards. The less opportunity you allow for danger, the better. 

Data Sources in Predicting Building Fires

When it comes to predicting fire, data is the key. How can you predict building fires without understanding how these hazards form? Fortunately, various types of technological advances allow for real-time risk assessment and prediction.

Experts may use thermal cameras to detect hot spots on a structure's exterior. Additionally, since heat rises and materials can emit infrared radiation, these sensors can identify potential fire risks before they occur.

As a result, this data provides companies with vital information in managing fire prevention. The typical metrics looked at when predicting fires can include:

  • Property assessments –– These assessments are necessary to understand the onsite materials and how combustible your building is. How much damage can a fire cause? How long does it take for a fire to cause significant damage?
  • Fire department incident data –– Incident data is vital to understand how often fires occur in your area. How many other structures are there that could impact the environment around you? How close is a fire station? All vital information to know.
  • Census data –– Census data helps better understand fire risk by looking at the demographics in your area. The data prepare fire departments for higher-risk areas and determines how prepared they are in an emergency.
  • Building fire flow calculations –– These calculations show how fast a fire will travel from one point to another. Additionally, it shows how long it takes for firefighters to get there and how much time they have to contain the fire before it reaches a certain point.
  • Land/building use –– How is the land being used? How much space is there between buildings? How close to fuel sources are you located? All important questions that need answers when assessing fire risk.
  • Zoning –– Zoning tells risk assessors how much exposure a building has. This includes how far the fire can spread, how close it is to other facilities, how many escape routes there are, and more.
  • Crime –– Fire risk assessors look at crime to determine the risk for fire from arson.

Managing Fire Risks for Your Building

Managing fire risks in your building is relatively simple yet crucial. There are several strategies you can use to keep your business and employees safe, including:

  • Properly install fire alarms –– Proper installment of fire alarms is key. The number of detectors, their placement, and testing frequency will all have an impact on your level of safety and security.
  • Install sprinklers –– Sprinkler systems should be installed on every level of a building. Additionally, the alarms need to be tested regularly to ensure that each is working correctly.
  • Eliminate fire hazards –– Be sure to eliminate all potential fire hazards. This includes items that are combustible or have the ability to start fires.
  • Have an evacuation strategy –– The best way to stay safe is by forming a fire evacuation plan effectively and efficiently ahead of time. Make a note of how many people can escape, fire exits available, and the time it will take to evacuate everyone. These are important to know as they can save lives.
  • Maintain fire safety equipment –– Maintaining fire safety equipment is of the utmost importance. It ensures that fire alarms are working correctly, sprinkler systems work when needed, and allow maximum protection in an emergency. Additionally, in the event of a fire, it's crucial to have the equipment and tools used for fire restoration to help quickly clean up the contaminated scene.
  • Train your employees –– Train employees on how to handle an emergency. For example, how will they evacuate, where will they go, and the best way to stay safe? You can never be too prepared when it comes to emergencies.
  • Conduct routine fire drills –– Your employees and clients should be required to conduct a fire drill regularly. How often will depend largely on the size of your building, but drills should happen at least once a month. This will help your employees know how to react during an emergency, and it provides you with the opportunity to review evacuation plans and fire safety equipment.
  • Post clear exits and escape routes –– Make sure there are clear signs of where to go and what rooms can be used as exits. This will help ensure that everyone can get out of the building safely.
  • Schedule routine equipment maintenance –– Make sure that all fire safety equipment is always up to date. How often you need maintenance will depend on the type of equipment, but it should be done regularly.

Despite your best efforts, emergencies and accidents can still happen. It’s critical to have fire clean-up assistance for your belongings, should you ever experience fire damage. With the help of fire and smoke damage restoration experts, your building can be back to its original state in no time.

Fire risk assessment is an integral part of protecting your building or business from potential fires. With the help of data, fire risk assessors can determine how to better protect your building and keep everyone safe.

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