We all tend to focus on protecting properties from theft or vandalism, ignoring the equally important area of fire safety, where electrical fires are the most common sources of outbreaks. Here ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk highlights what can be done to prevent fires from causing damage to vital assets in our communities.
“Fire poses a constant threat to every building within South Africa and it usually strikes without warning, often with devastating consequences to property, equipment and to life. A fire has no regard for high fences or walls and it is immune to burglar alarms and 24-hour security guards”, van Niekerk comments.
This focus on securing property, equipment and inventory has resulted in a vulnerability to fire, partially due to a lack of knowledge of the fire hazards and risks within our living and working environments, and due to a lack of money to spend on fire protection equipment as funds are diverted to seemingly more important issues.
The infrastructure within South Africa is ageing and equipment failure, particularly in the electricity distribution system, can result in large fires that cause significant damage to the substations with a negative knock on effect on businesses and our homes. Stories of explosions or fires at substations in the media are evidence of this real threat.
“Substation fires that are attended to by the fire department usually take several hours and require thousands of litres of water to extinguish, which is an added reason to prevent fires in the current drought that we are facing, “ he adds.
The risk of a fire in the electrical infrastructure within the Bedfordview and Edenvale areas can be mitigated through effective preventative maintenance and through the application of modern automatic fire protection technologies. “There has been recent development in misting fire protection systems, where the effectiveness of water is multiplied a thousand fold by creating water mist droplets with the same diameter as human hair”, van Niekerk points out.
These mist droplets evaporate simultaneously into a cloud of steam when they come into contact with a fire, rapidly cooling it to below the temperature that it can survive at. Automatic heat detection tubes designed to react at 100⁰C activate the water mist system to extinguish the impending fire within seconds before it is able to cause any real damage or grow out of control.
“A standalone, automatic water mist system is cheaper and easier to install than a conventional sprinkler or spray system and it doesn’t need the hundreds of thousands litres of water, or many metres of pipework required by a conventional system to put out a fire,” he argues.
The adage that prevention is better than cure is applicable more than ever in the current economic and weather climate. A great deal of money can be saved by taking proactive steps to protect critical elements of community infrastructure from fire damage and by doing so, keeping the proverbial lights on at home.
Van Niekerk mentions: “Standalone water mist systems can also be installed in businesses to protect specific risks, where the funds required for a sprinkler system to protect the whole building with the associated water tanks and pumps are simply not available.”
As an accredited fire-risk management and support provider, ASP Fire provides a holistic, proactive and preventative total solutions approach to fire safety. The consultancy designs integrated fire-risk assessments, as well as providing training and advice on the installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems that meet all necessary regulations and standards.
“We provide fire risk consulting and rational design, as well as fire suppression and detection solutions for both home and industrial markets. We do not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Our solutions are specifically customised and tailored according to every client’s requirements,” van Niekerk concludes.
About ASP Fire
ASP Fire operates across the entire African continent from its Gauteng base, providing professional, accredited fire-risk management and support to its clients. It designs, installs and maintains a full range of fire detection and suppression equipment suited to its customers’ specific needs. It provides holistic, proactive and preventative fire solutions based on integrated fire risk assessment, training and consulting, along with the installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems that meet SABS, NFPA, FPASA, FDIA and SAQCC standards.