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Dec 27th 2018

Commercial Fire Protection Engineering Design Considerations

fire protection engineering KMB

Commercial Construction Considerations for Fire Protection Engineering

Whether you’re starting a new construction project or rehabilitating an existing structure, fire protection engineering designs are a vital component in saving lives, preserving property and maintaining business continuity. Taking into consideration the usage of a building, occupancy, structure, codes and other installed systems, all components of an organization’s fire protection system must work seamlessly together.

But, how do you know whether to choose a wet sprinkler system or a dry sprinkler system to protect your business from a fire? Let’s take a look at the importance of fire protection engineering designs and the key differences between a wet and dry fire sprinkler system.

Importance of Fire Protection Engineering Design

Fire safety and protection is one of the most significant concerns for commercial building owners and managers. A fire in a commercial facility could lead to serious injuries (or even death) of customers and employees, as well as devastating property damage.

In fact, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences, the United States has the highest level of fire losses, in terms of both frequency and total losses, of any modern technological society. New commercial construction and renovation projects must consider efficient, cost-effective, passive and automatic fire protection engineering designs.

Whether you’re looking to improve fire protection efforts in a warehouse, retail center, higher education campus or office building, sprinkler systems are a major component in fire protection in commercial applications.

Wet Pipe Vs Dry Pipe Sprinkler System Standards

NFPA-13  Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems is perhaps the most widely used set of standards for commercial fire sprinkler requirements. This national standard establishes the procedures and conditions for installing sprinkler systems. It also gives designers, engineers, contractors, and installers the knowledge and tools they need to develop fire protection for any occupancy. Their aim is to “improve your ability to apply requirements for automatic fire sprinklers, for more effective design, installation, maintenance and code enforcement.”

Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems

In a wet pipe sprinkler system, the overhead piping is filled with pressurized water. In the event of a fire, the connected sprinklers activate and immediately discharge water. As the most common commercial sprinkler system, wet pipe sprinkler systems are also the simplest and most cost effective fire protection system to install. They are reliable choice for most commercial applications, however, cannot be used in structures where temperatures dip below 40 degrees due to freezing.

Dry Pipe Sprinkler Systems

Dry pipe sprinkler systems, on the other hand, do not have water in the direct piping. Instead, they keep pressurized air (or nitrogen) in non-heated portions of sprinkler pipes, which holds back the water supply at the main valve. In the event of a fire, air pressure drops, which activates the sprinkler head to open and release water into the piping system. While this design can result in a delay of up to 60 seconds, dry pipe sprinkler systems are ideal to use in environments or facilities that may drop below freezing, such as a loading dock, walk-in refrigerator, parking garage or warehouse.

Commercial Fire Protection Engineering from KMB

Along with Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Structural, KMB offers fire protection engineering services for commercial buildings. This includes the coordination, design and implementation of many fire safety systems, such as wet and dry sprinkler system design, fire detection and modeling, code interpretation, fire protection analysis, emergency responder mapping and much more.

Maintaining the highest standard of safety, while meeting building requirements and keeping costs down, is the main goal for any project. As one of the top fire safety engineering firms in the United States, KMB collaborates with clients to achieve the best performance-based design solutions for their structure.

Contact KMB’s Engineering experts for more information on your next energy project.