IoT’s Role In Fire Suppression
Technological advances in recent decades have considerably improved fire alert systems. Fire sprinkler systems are now installed at a rate of 40 million units per year and now, 96% of buildings covered by sprinkler systems are potentially able to control fires without additional aid.
The next step is predictive fire alarm maintenance, better fire detection, and more effective fire fighting. These capabilities rely on assessing massive amounts of data in realtime to enable predictive maintenance of fire safety equipment, faster fire detection, better operational decisions and better risk assessments. The Internet of Things will be critical for these capabilities.
Designing smart buildings
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), sometimes called edge-computing, describes the connection of physical objects to the internet. It also describes the communication between regular, everyday objects online. Advances in cloud technology, data storage and transmission speed have made it viable to link up devices embedded with sensors to track how and when physical assets are used, and how the environment around these objects is interacting with them.
5G will make IoT even more commonplace as we design smart buildings and upgrade infrastructure
IoT applications are becoming more widespread, spanning our roads, hospitals, car parks, high rise office buildings and residential flats. 5G will make IoT even more commonplace as we design smart buildings and upgrade existing infrastructure.
Aggravating environmental factors
The clearest application of this technology is in maintenance. Currently, building owners and engineers estimate how often their buildings or devices need servicing based on rudimentary predetermined schedules, random checks, or when breakages occur.
By contrast, IoT driven data analysis enables predictive maintenance, in which individual devices can be measured on a case by case basis, based on their real time usage, condition and aggravating environmental factors. This can form part of an end-to-end solution connecting engineers, building owners and ultimately, firefighting teams with sophisticated data analytics for more effective fire suppression. IoT can be used for a range of purposes, from fire safety equipment monitoring and repair to fire detection and firefighting itself. IoT sensors can continuously monitor electrical systems and identify smokeless, invisible heat sources.
IoT temperature sensors
Sensors can also integrate with devices such as alarms, personal safety devices and fire suits
Once an increase in temperature is detected, safety and inspection teams can be alerted immediately. IoT temperature sensors can be an important addition to traditional smoke detectors by detecting fires faster. IoT sensors and devices can not only monitor buildings to detect fires, they can also provide fire stations with enhanced computer-aided dispatch and improved situational awareness for firefighters and activate sprinklers.
Sensors can also integrate with devices such as alarms, personal safety devices and fire suits. They can be used to track firefighters and help incident commanders coordinate individual firefighters in the field. Radio-frequency identification trackers, potentially embedded into firefighting suits, could reveal firefighters’ locations in real time. Wirelessly connected sensors can also provide information to emergency command centers and incident commanders, for better information sharing during a crisis.
Offering preventative solutions
IoT can also offer preventative solutions, delivering systems that record when a fire extinguisher is spent or missing, or a system that records when a fire door is left open. Updated in real time, these solutions have the power to warn of inadequate safety measures as they emerge. Fire suppression relies on quality, tracked maintenance.
Enhanced, automated information sharing will be critical in dynamic or unpredictable situations
Firefighting relies on responding quickly to changing circumstances. Enhanced, automated information sharing will be critical in dynamic or unpredictable situations, and this is what IoT ultimately enables. Yet the interpretation of data is as important as the sensors collecting it, as is the ability to translate complex information from different sources, to give engineers and firefighters the right information when they need it. Working the other way, a properly integrated system that allows building, maintenance and fire brigades to communicate, will help flag issues as they come up and get them resolved quickly.
System installation costs
Where we have implemented IoT solutions for elevators and escalators, engineers have cut the number of emergency repairs by a factor of three within a six month period, making maintenance less costly. Intelligent fire systems are expected to save their owners 30% of costs on maintenance, remedying false alarm call outs argued to cost in the region of £1bn. Furthermore, IoT installation need not be too expensive, certainly in the case of fire safety.
Reduced system installation costs, with Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, network cables capable of carrying electrical power and data within a single line, can make installation easier. And remote monitoring through the Internet and the ability to transmit diagnostic information over the same lines can ensure that when service is needed, the technician will arrive with all the necessary equipment and data so that the repair can be completed more efficiently.
Early warning systems
Fire prevention must improve, and we must utilize the latest technology to do it
The case for more affordable firefighting is overwhelming, particularly given the likelihood of more heatwaves. According to the National Fire Protection Association, local fire departments in the US responded to 1,338,500 fires last year.
These fires resulted in $21.9 billion in property damage. Fire prevention must improve, and we must utilize the latest technology to do it. Already, IoT solutions are used in sewers to predict floods.
They are also used in early warning systems to predict earthquakes, and they are used in climatology to predict storms. Better information has allowed a degree of mastery over the elements. As we take our next step, the role of IoT technology in preventing and suppressing fires is inevitable.