Active fire protection (AFP) is an integral part of fire protection. AFP is characterized by items and/or systems, which require a certain amount of motion and response in order to work, contrary to passive fire protection.
Fire can be controlled or extinguished, either manually (firefighting) or automatically. Manual control includes the use of a fire extinguisher or a standpipe system. Automatic control means can include a fire sprinkler system, a gaseous clean agent, or firefighting foam system. Automatic suppression systems would usually be found in large commercial kitchens or other high-risk areas.
Fire sprinkler systems are installed in all types of buildings, commercial and residential. They are usually located at ceiling level and are connected to a reliable water source, most commonly city water. A typical sprinkler system operates when heat at the site of a fire causes a glass component in the sprinkler head to fail, thereby releasing the water from the sprinkler head. This means that only the sprinkler head at the fire location operates – not all the sprinklers on a floor or in a building. Sprinkler systems help to reduce the growth of a fire, thereby increasing life safety and limiting structural damage.
Fire is detected either by locating the smoke, flame or heat, and an alarm is sounded to enable emergency evacuation as well as to dispatch the local fire department. Where a detection system is activated, it can be programmed to carry out other actions. These include de-energising magnetic hold open devices on Fire doors and opening servo-actuated vents in stairways.
Hypoxic air fire prevention
Fire can be prevented by hypoxic air. Hypoxic air fire prevention systems, also known as oxygen reduction systems are new automatic fire prevention systems that reduce permanently the oxygen concentration inside the protected volumes so that ignition or fire spreading cannot occur. Unlike traditional fire suppression systems that usually extinguish fire after it is detected, hypoxic air is able to prevent fires. At lower altitudes hypoxic air is safe to breathe for healthy individuals.
Construction and maintenance
All AFP systems are required to be installed and maintained in accordance with strict guidelines in order to maintain compliance with the local building code and the fire code.
AFP works alongside modern architectural designs and construction materials and fire safety education to prevent, retard, and suppress structural fires.