The National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors (NAFED) recently published an article titled “Protecting High-Risk Special Hazards with Fire Suppression Systems”. In it, they discuss the need for fire suppression systems for high-risk special hazards, what defines a high-risk special hazard, and how to calculate hazard risk. This is a complex subject, so let’s try to break it down into simpler terms.
What are High-Risk Special Hazards?
High-risk special hazards are basically objects or areas that present high combustible loads, flammable liquids, mission-critical functions, or some other significant or unusual risk of fire. While the NAFED article points out that consequences are most commonly expressed in financial damages, the examples make it clear that life safety or business interruption must also be considered and calculated.
The first example discusses the risk factor of the main switchgear in shipboard marine applications. The assessment determined that it is a significant fire risk. The assessment evaluated how a main switchboard fire would affect the ship and its crew. While the assessment begins with the common unit of consequences—monetary—they note that life safety elevates this into an added safety risk to the crew on board the vessel.
Another example of a high-risk special hazard area is a data center. When considering the financial consequences of a data center fire, it is known that servers are incredibly expensive and mission-critical to businesses. Without adequate fire suppression systems, any fire can spread quickly throughout the facility. The economic loss would be devastating in and of itself, but it can also cause crippling business interruption and/or security issues. This can cause a chain reaction of financial woes that lead to catastrophic losses or worse.
Why is Fire Suppression Important?
Fire suppression systems should be applied to high-risk special hazards because they can be engineered to respond quickly to limit damage. Fire suppression systems can be interfaced with sensitive smoke or flame detection, which are much faster than standard sprinklers. This can ensure life safety issues are addressed, and fewer financial damages are incurred.
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