When there is a fire, every second counts. When engineers design a building, the use of fire retardants and fire containment strategies are built into the design.These techniques are essential to the safety of building inhabitants, as strategies to contain the heat and smoke will reduce the chances of death for those trying to escape. Should a fire break out in a building you have designed, a careful use of fire retardant materials will lengthen the amount of time it takes for the building to become fully engulfed in flames.
The Release of Heat and Smoke Toxicity
The cause of death for close to 2/3 of all people that die in fire deaths is "inhalation of combustion products", which means that only 1/3 die from the actual heat and flames themselves. Fire retardants can slow down the progression of a fire and reduce the combustibility of the building materials. When materials aren't burning as rapidly, halogenated carpets, pillows, and furniture will produce more toxic smoke than those not treated with this fire retardant chemical. The safety of using toxic chemicals in the mass production of furniture, carpets and even clothing is suspect and may not be as effective at saving lives as once thought.
Fire Doors Are Critical In Containing a Fire
In larger buildings, the use of fire doors is essential to the containment of a fires. While fire doors aren't going to stop a fire completely, it is possible for a fire to be contained in a room or a hallway for a longer period of time when fire doors are used. Not just any door is considered a fire door. In order to be compliant with safety standards set by OSHA, the doors must be held open in such a way that they close automatically when the fire alarm goes off.
Fire doors help to contain the fire because they don't allow oxygen to flow freely through the building. While air can get through fire doors, the lack of fresh oxygen helps slow down the burning process. When a fire begins to break out and fire doors are activated, people have more time to get out of the building than they would without the doors in place.
It is important to understand that while the use of fire retardants, fire doors and fire containment building strategies will help slow down a fire, they aren't going to extinguish a fire completely. When the fire alarm gets activated, it's time to get out of the building as quickly as possible.
For more information, contact a fire protection engineer in your area.