Choosing the Right Fire Sprinkler System for Your Business

When it comes to protecting your business from fires, having the right fire sprinkler system in place is crucial. In this blog, we will explore the importance of fire sprinkler systems for businesses and provide valuable insights on choosing the system that best suits your needs. By understanding the factors to consider, the different types of systems available, the installation process, and the importance of maintenance, you can make an informed decision to safeguard your business and its assets.

Understanding Your Business Needs:

To choose the right fire sprinkler system, it’s essential to assess your business’s unique requirements. Factors such as building size, occupancy type, and fire risk should be taken into consideration. Conducting a thorough risk assessment and consulting with fire safety experts will help you determine the most appropriate system for your business.

Types of Fire Sprinkler Systems:

Fire sprinkler systems are available in various types, each tailored to address specific fire hazards. Understanding the different types and their advantages and disadvantages is crucial in choosing the system that best aligns with your business needs and fire protection goals. Let’s explore the four main types of fire sprinkler systems:

Wet Systems:

Wet sprinkler systems are the most common and widely used type. They consist of pipes filled with pressurized water, ready to be discharged when a fire is detected. The key advantage of wet systems is their quick response time, as water is immediately available to suppress the fire. They are suitable for most commercial applications, such as offices, retail stores, and healthcare facilities. However, wet systems may not be suitable for environments with freezing temperatures, as the water-filled pipes can freeze and cause damage if not properly protected.


  • Rapid response time
  • Suitable for most commercial applications
  • Cost-effective installation


  • Vulnerable to freezing in cold environments
  • Potential water damage if accidentally activated
  • May require additional insulation in freezing conditions

Dry Systems:

Dry sprinkler systems are designed for environments where freezing temperatures are a concern. Instead of water, these systems use pressurized air or nitrogen in the pipes, which prevents freezing. When a fire occurs, the air pressure drops, allowing the valve to open and water to flow through the sprinklers. Dry systems are commonly used in unheated buildings, parking garages, and warehouses.


  • Effective in freezing environments
  • Minimizes the risk of pipe damage due to freezing
  • Suitable for unheated buildings and parking garages


  • Slightly slower response time compared to wet systems
  • Higher installation and maintenance costs
  • Limited to specific applications with freezing concerns

Pre-action Systems:

Pre-action sprinkler systems are designed to provide an extra layer of protection in environments where accidental water discharge could cause significant damage. These systems use a combination of water and air pressure in the pipes. Before water is released, a detection system (typically smoke or heat detectors) must activate, confirming the presence of a fire. This dual verification reduces the risk of accidental water discharge and is commonly used in data centers, museums, and libraries.


  • Reduces the risk of accidental water discharge
  • Suitable for environments with sensitive equipment or valuable assets
  • Allows for early fire detection before water is released


  • Higher complexity and installation costs
  • Longer response time compared to wet systems
  • Requires regular testing and maintenance to ensure proper functionality

Deluge Systems:

Deluge sprinkler systems are specifically designed for high-hazard environments where rapid fire suppression is crucial. Unlike other systems, all sprinkler heads in a deluge system are open and continuously charged with water. When a fire is detected, a valve opens, releasing a large volume of water simultaneously from all sprinklers. Deluge systems are commonly found in areas with highly flammable materials, such as chemical storage facilities, power plants, or aircraft hangars.


  • Provides rapid and extensive water coverage
  • Suitable for high-hazard environments with flammable materials
  • Effective in suppressing fires in large areas quickly


  • Increased water damage potential due to simultaneous activation of all sprinkler heads
  • Requires proper fire detection and monitoring systems
  • Higher installation and maintenance costs

Understanding the different types of fire sprinkler systems and their advantages and disadvantages is crucial in selecting the right system for your business. Consult with fire safety experts to assess your specific requirements and ensure compliance with local regulations and codes.

Remember, choosing the appropriate fire sprinkler system plays a significant role in safeguarding your business and protecting lives and assets during a fire emergency.

Installation, Maintenance, and Cost Considerations of Fire Sprinkler Systems

Installation Process:

The installation of a fire sprinkler system involves careful planning, design, and professional installation. We will walk you through the process, highlighting the importance of working with a reputable and experienced contractor. Their expertise ensures that your system is correctly installed and meets all necessary safety standards.

Maintenance and Testing:

Once your fire sprinkler system is installed, regular maintenance and testing are crucial to keep it in optimal working condition. We will emphasize the significance of ongoing inspections, testing, and maintenance, as neglecting these tasks can compromise the system’s effectiveness. By prioritizing maintenance, you can ensure that your system is always ready to respond to a fire emergency.

Cost Considerations:

Installing and maintaining a fire sprinkler system is an investment in the safety of your business. We will discuss the various cost considerations, including the initial installation costs, ongoing maintenance expenses, and potential insurance premium reductions. By weighing these factors, you can make an informed decision that balances your budget with the level of fire protection required for your business.

Final Notes

Choosing the right fire sprinkler system for your business is a critical decision that directly impacts the safety of your premises, employees, and assets. By understanding your business needs, exploring the different types of systems available, following proper installation procedures, prioritizing maintenance, and considering cost factors, you can make an informed decision. Remember, consulting with fire safety experts will provide you with the necessary guidance and expertise to ensure your business is effectively protected.

Take the necessary steps to safeguard your business from fire risks. Consult with our fire safety experts today to choose the right fire sprinkler system for your business. Protect what matters most and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a comprehensive fire protection solution.

Learn More About Fortis

At Fortis, we provide cutting-edge expertise in fire protection planning, design, and construction. We understand the challenges that modern facilities face and utilize our experience to find efficient and cost-effective solutions. From initial planning to acceptance testing and beyond, we offer a comprehensive suite of services.

We utilize the latest in computer-automated design to map out your system so we know the exact specifications before we even set foot on your job site. No need for drawings, we can map your facility and create blueprints from scratch.

We facilitate BIM coordination for new construction projects. We work with your BIM coordinator to load in our plans to avoid structural conflicts before they happen.

Additionally, all of our designers are NICET certified in their respective fields.
Learn more about our fire protection services, here.

The Importance of Fire Suppression Systems in Commercial Buildings

As a responsible building owner or manager, ensuring the safety of your commercial property and its occupants is of utmost importance. One crucial aspect of fire safety is the installation of effective fire suppression systems. In this blog, we will explore the significance of fire suppression systems in commercial buildings, the benefits they offer, the different types available, and the importance of complying with regulations and codes.

The Basics of Fire Suppression Systems:

Fire suppression systems are designed to detect and suppress fires in commercial buildings. These systems are equipped with various components such as detectors, alarms, and suppressants, working together to mitigate the risks posed by fire incidents. Understanding the basics of fire suppression systems is essential for building owners and managers to make informed decisions about their fire safety measures.

Benefits of Fire Suppression Systems

Increased Safety

Fire suppression systems significantly enhance the safety of building occupants by swiftly detecting fires and suppressing them before they can escalate. This early intervention can save lives and prevent injuries.

Reduced Property Damage

Fires can cause extensive damage to commercial properties, leading to costly repairs and business interruptions. With effective fire suppression systems in place, the spread of fires can be contained, minimizing property damage and reducing downtime.

Lowered Insurance Premiums

Insurance companies often offer lower premiums to commercial buildings that have reliable fire suppression systems installed. This is because these systems mitigate the risk of extensive damage and demonstrate a commitment to fire safety, making the property less likely to experience severe losses.

Types of Fire Suppression Systems

It’s important for a business or building owner to be aware of the different types of fire suppression systems available. Specific fire suppression systems include the following:

Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems

Clean agent fire suppression systems use environmentally-friendly chemical reagents to put out fires. These are typically found in sensitive areas, such as data centers. The chemicals used are water-free and safe for the environment. Once a clean agent system is activated, clean-up is minimal!

Carbon Dioxide Fire Suppression

Carbon dioxide systems use CO2—colorless, odorless gas—to extinguish a fire. These systems are an incredibly efficient and cost-effective approach to fire protection. Clean-up following the activation of a carbon dioxide system is minimal.

Carbon dioxide fire suppression systems are currently being used in commercial shipping applications by the U.S Navy. The engine rooms of marine vessels utilize CO₂ instead of water as a suppression agent because water would damage the electrical and mechanical components of the engine. Additionally you wouldn’t want to put water into a vessel that is already at sea. It is common to find these systems in industries that handle steel and aluminum as well.

Industrial Fire Suppression Systems

Industrial plants need extra attention when it comes to fire protection, as most of the areas are in high-hazard environments. The fires that occur in these areas typically involve some type of chemical, liquid fuel, or other hazardous materials. 

Therefore, proper fire protection systems are essential. Industrial fire suppression systems typically use dry chemicals to extinguish the fire.

Restaurant Fire Suppression Systems

Kitchens require specific fire suppression systems. Kitchen fire suppression systems are designed to put out grease fires that would be worsened if you attempt to put them out with water. They typically utilize wet chemicals in a mist form to extinguish the fire quickly and effectively.

Regulations and Codes:

Compliance with fire safety regulations and codes is essential for commercial buildings. Authorities establish these requirements to ensure that buildings meet specific safety standards. Understanding the regulatory landscape and adhering to the codes not only guarantees the safety of occupants but also helps avoid legal penalties and liabilities.

Final Notes

The importance of fire suppression systems in commercial buildings cannot be overstated. They provide a vital layer of protection, increasing safety, minimizing property damage, and potentially lowering insurance premiums. By understanding the basics, exploring different system types, and complying with regulations and codes, building owners and managers can create a safer environment for everyone. 

If you’re interested in learning more about fire suppression systems and ensuring the fire safety of your commercial property, contact our team today. Let us help you safeguard your building and protect your investments.

Learn More About Fortis

At Fortis, we provide cutting-edge expertise in fire protection planning, design, and construction. We understand the challenges that modern facilities face and utilize our experience to find efficient and cost-effective solutions. From initial planning to acceptance testing and beyond, we offer a comprehensive suite of services.

We utilize the latest in computer-automated design to map out your system so we know the exact specifications before we even set foot on your job site. No need for drawings, we can map your facility and create blueprints from scratch.

We facilitate BIM coordination for new construction projects. We work with your BIM coordinator to load in our plans to avoid structural conflicts before they happen.

Additionally, all of our designers are NICET certified in their respective fields.

Learn more about our fire protection services, here.

Future-Proof Your Business: Retrofitting Life Safety Systems

 As a business owner, you are always looking for ways to save money and make smart investments that can help your company grow. One area where you may be able to save money is through upgrading your life safety systems, including fire sprinkler, fire alarm, special hazard, or security systems. Retrofitting these systems can improve their effectiveness and ensure they meet current safety codes and regulations. 

In this blog, we will explore the various types of retrofitting and tax incentives available to businesses, as well as the importance of upgrading your life safety systems to protect your employees and property.

What Do We Mean by Retrofitting Life Safety Systems?

Retrofitting fire protection systems refers to the process of upgrading or modifying existing fire protection systems to improve their effectiveness and ensure they meet current safety codes and regulations. This may involve replacing outdated equipment, adding new components, or upgrading the entire system to meet the latest standards.

Fire protection systems can include various components such as fire alarms, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors. Retrofitting these systems may involve installing new or additional components to enhance their performance, replacing older equipment that no longer meets safety codes, or updating the entire system to comply with new regulations.

Retrofitting fire protection systems is essential to ensure the safety of building occupants and protect property from fire damage. With advancements in technology and changes in safety regulations, it is important to regularly assess and update fire protection systems to ensure they remain effective and up-to-date.

Tax Incentives for Retrofitting Life Safety Systems

The 2020 Cares Act

Under Section 168 of the CARES Act, businesses can now fully deduct the cost of upgrades to their Life Safety systems if placed into service before the end of 2020. This means that the cost of equipment and labor for your fire sprinkler, fire alarm, special hazard, or security system upgrades can be fully deducted as a business expense in the first year of service. This results in accelerated cash savings and can help provide relief to businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

In addition, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 also provides a tax incentive for business owners who upgrade their existing fire sprinkler systems. This act allows business owners to write off the full cost of commercial fire sprinkler systems as an expense up to $1.04 million and fully deduct the interest expense of any associated loans. This provides an even greater opportunity for business owners to make necessary upgrades to their Life Safety systems while saving money at the same time.

But why should you consider upgrading your Life Safety systems in the first place? The answer is simple: safety. Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding Life Safety System Retrofits: A Guide for Business Owners

Fire Sprinkler Retrofits 

If your business already has a fire sprinkler system in place, you may still benefit from retrofitting it. Retrofits involve upgrading and modifying existing systems to ensure they are up to code and functioning properly. Retrofits can range from replacing corroded pipes and fittings to updating outdated control panels and adding new sprinkler heads. 

Retrofitting your fire sprinkler system not only ensures compliance with fire codes and standards, but also improves the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the system, leading to increased safety for your employees and property.

Fire Suppression Retrofits

Fire suppression systems, such as kitchen hood suppression systems, clean agent systems, and foam systems, are critical in extinguishing fires quickly and efficiently, minimizing damage to property and protecting the safety of employees. If you have an older suppression system in place, it may be time to consider a retrofit to ensure it is up to date and functioning properly. Retrofitting can involve upgrading components such as nozzles, piping, and control panels, as well as replacing outdated systems with newer, more effective ones.

Alarm and Detection Systems Retrofits

Alarm and detection systems are essential in alerting occupants to the presence of fire or other emergencies, allowing them to evacuate quickly and safely. If your existing alarm and detection systems are outdated, it may be time to consider a retrofit. Retrofits can involve upgrading components such as control panels, smoke detectors, heat detectors, and alarms to ensure they meet current fire code requirements and are functioning properly. 

Retrofitting your alarm and detection systems can provide peace of mind that your business and employees are adequately protected in the event of an emergency.

Sound and Communication Retrofits 

Sound and communication systems are essential in facilitating communication and evacuation in the event of an emergency. Retrofitting your sound and communication systems can involve upgrading components such as speakers, intercom systems, and emergency communication devices to ensure they are functioning properly and meet current fire code requirements.

 Retrofitting can also involve adding new systems or components to improve communication and evacuation procedures, such as mass notification systems and emergency lighting.

Integrated Security System Retrofits 

Integrated security systems are becoming increasingly popular in businesses of all sizes, as they provide comprehensive security solutions that can include access control, video surveillance, and intrusion detection. If your existing security system is outdated or does not provide the level of security you require, retrofitting can be an effective solution. Retrofitting your security system can involve upgrading components such as cameras, access control systems, and alarms to ensure they are functioning properly and meet current security standards. 

Additionally, retrofitting can involve integrating multiple security systems into a single, comprehensive system to improve overall security and simplify management.

Why Upgrade Life Safety Systems 

Upgrading your Life Safety systems is crucial for the safety and well-being of your business and employees. Fire sprinkler systems, for example, can prevent fires from spreading and causing significant damage to your building and assets. They can also help prevent injuries and fatalities by providing early warning and suppression of fires.

In addition, as you mentioned, many laws require businesses to retrofit their existing buildings with sprinkler systems. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety of all occupants and visitors to the building. Failing to comply with these laws can result in significant fines and legal penalties, as well as increased liability in the event of a fire or other disaster.

Investing in other Life Safety systems such as fire alarms, special hazard systems, and security systems can also provide numerous benefits. Fire alarms can alert occupants to the presence of a fire and provide critical time for evacuation. Special hazard systems can detect and suppress fires in areas with unique hazards such as chemical storage areas or data centers. Security systems can help deter theft and break-ins, protecting your assets and employees.

Learn More About Fortis

At Fortis, we provide cutting-edge expertise in fire protection planning, design, and construction. We understand the challenges that modern facilities face and utilize our experience to find efficient and cost-effective solutions. From initial planning to acceptance testing and beyond, we offer a comprehensive suite of services.

We utilize the latest in computer-automated design to map out your system so we know the exact specifications before we even set foot on your job site. No need for drawings, we can map your facility and create blueprints from scratch.

We facilitate BIM coordination for new construction projects. We work with your BIM coordinator to load in our plans to avoid structural conflicts before they happen.

Additionally, all of our designers are NICET certified in their respective fields.

Learn more about our fire protection services, here.

Four Reasons to Invest in Fire Protection Services Today 

Many business owners choose not to invest in fire protection services to cut costs and improve their bottom line. However, these business owners may not realize that the scope of fire protection goes beyond the event of a fire itself. In fact, fire protection services benefit businesses long before and well after an incident occurs.

Read on to learn how investing in fire protection services can protect your business and employees, cut insurance costs, and help your company survive business interruption and make a successful recovery. 

Keep Your Business and Employees Safe 

The most important reason to invest in fire protection service is to keep both your business and your employees safe. 

Protect Your Business

Any fire can devastate your business. Small fires may damage your property enough to halt business operations for a few days. Large fires may result in the complete loss of your building, materials, merchandise, important documents or records and, in the worst cases, harm to an employee or customer. 

Each of these outcomes also carries major financial risk. Investing in fire protection services can help to reduce this risk and protect the business you worked so hard to build. 

Protect Your Employees

According to OSHA, “businesses operate more efficiently when they implement effective safety and health management systems.” 

Employees play an essential role in supporting your business. By making them feel safe and protected in their workplace, you are helping them to be more productive as well as treating them with the care they deserve. Your business is their livelihood and protecting it is not just about protecting your assets, it’s about protecting them too. 

Be Prepared to Survive Business Interruption

Over 70% of businesses that experience a major fire either never reopen or close within three years of the event. 

The high percentage of businesses that fail following a fire is largely due to the intensity of business interruption fires cause. If you are well-equipped to handle a major fire, you will be better prepared to survive business interruption. The 30% of businesses that survive fires likely recover because they had plans in place before the event occurred. 

Mitigate Risk For Insurance Purposes

Insurance companies assess your potential risk when determining the cost of your coverage. 

The cost of fire safety is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of recovering from a fire and subsequent increases in insurance premiums. Therefore, it is important to have all the precautions in place to reduce any potential risk. Additionally, fire safety services can help your business avoid potential workers’ compensation payments.

Reduce Liability Risk

Business owners can avoid potential liability by investing in proper fire safety insurance. If owners do not comply with regulations or keep their building up to code, they are vulnerable to potential liability. The best way to keep yourself and those in your building safe is to invest in high-quality fire protection.

How to Invest in Fire Protection Services

Business owners have a range of fire protection services to choose from to protect their businesses and employees. For example, fire safety services and solutions may include: 

  • Fire sprinkler systems
  • Fire suppression systems
  • Fire alarm and detection systems
  • Portable fire extinguishers
  • And more

At Fortis, we want to help protect your employees, your company, your assets, and your building from any potential fire risk. 
Contact us today to learn more about our services and see how we can help.

Fire Inspection Reports 101: What Are They and Why Do They Take So Long?

Inspecting your fire safety equipment is an essential part of your fire safety plan. Ensuring your fire safety equipment is up to par with regulations and guidelines keeps both your building and, more importantly, your people safe from harm. When a fire inspection occurs, sometimes it can feel like forever until you receive that report back. 

At Fortis, we understand that your fire protection systems are only as effective as the inspection performed on them. This is why we make it our commitment to provide reports onsite, or shortly after depending on the inspection.

What’s Included in a Fire Inspection Report? 

Depending on your building and area, there are different inspections that are required under NFPA codes and guidelines. 

Some of the types of general inspections include: 

  • Routine Building Inspections
  • Fire Suppression System Inspections
  • Sprinkler System Inspections
  • Harbor and Marine Inspections
  • Specialty Inspections

In some cases, a company or commercial building owner can request a specialty fire and safety inspection, in this case, an inspection might take longer than a 24 hour response time. Each system is scheduled for one or multiple inspections throughout the year, all with different requirements and regulations to look out for. The timing depends on the equipment being inspected. Some inspections should be performed monthly, while others may occur annually. 


During an inspection, the fire safety expert will closely monitor and inspect a few different devices in your commercial building. 

What are these different devices? Let’s take a look. 

Certified Fire Extinguishers

Included in this inspection is counting the number and type of fire extinguishers throughout the building. Per NFPA code fire extinguishers are required to be inspected and certified by a licensed fire protection contractor. NFPA 10 states that extinguishers must be inspected when they are initially installed and once a month after that.  There are a variety of fire extinguishers that need to be inspected, these include:

  • Water Mist
  • Clean Agent
  • Foam
  • Wet Chemical
  • CO2
  • ABC Dry Chemical
  • Class A, B, C, D, and K

All of these different extinguishers have different purposes, therefore their inspections have different requirements. Examining all of these extinguishers takes time, which may further delay your inspection report hitting your desk. 

Emergency Lighting

Emergency illumination could mean life or death for your employees during a fire. Ensuring your emergency lighting is working and is in the correct areas is essential to your building’s fire safety.

Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems are used to extinguish or control fires and are activated by heat, smoke or a combination of the two. There are various types that might be installed in your commercial building, depending on your industry. These suppression systems include: 

  • Clean Agent
  • CO2 Systems
  • Wet Chemical
  • Dry Chemical

Understanding the purpose behind the different fire suppression systems can be confusing, especially if you’re not in the fire and life safety industry. In an effort to help you understand the differences between the various suppression systems that may be used in your building, we’ve written this article.  

Fire Sprinkler Systems

During an inspection, fire sprinkler systems need to be inspected for signs of wear and tear or signs of malfunction. Fire safety experts are looking for rust, corrosion, or broken parts. In order to remain proactive with your fire safety equipment, you can be on the lookout for a few things:

  • Once a week check the gauges in dry, pre-action, and deluge systems. 
  • Once a month check gauges in the wet pipe systems.
  • Once every three months inspect the water flow alarm devices, the signal devices, the hydraulic nameplates, and the valves. 
  • Once a year check the pipes, fittings, spare sprinklers, and signage and make sure it has been reviewed.
  • Once every five years inspect the sprinkler piping. 

Not only are there many areas of your sprinkler system that need to be inspected, but there are also testing requirements that need to be met for a few different components of your system. 

  • The entire system (low flow tests, alarm tests, trip tests, etc.) needs to be inspected once a year.
  • Mechanical systems within the sprinkler should be tested quarterly.
  • Vane and pressure switch devices should be tested twice a year.

Alarm and Detection Systems

Alarm and Detection systems are additional systems that are reviewed during your fire safety inspection. These systems should be checked weekly, monthly, semiannually, or annually depending on the NFPA schedule to ensure that they would work in case of an emergency. 

During the visual inspection, you or your fire safety expert will be reviewing the following:

  • Control equipment, including fuses, LEDs, power supply, and trouble signals should be inspected weekly to ensure the fire alarm system is working properly.
  • Batteries must be inspected for corrosion or leakage weekly or semiannually, depending on the type of battery.
  • Duct detectors, heat detectors, and smoke detectors need to be examined semiannually.
  • The entire system must be inspected annually to ensure there are no changes that affect the performance of the equipment. 

The technical pieces of Alarm and Detection systems need to be closely examined. For example, the backup battery supply can only be tested if the fire inspection team disconnects all of the main power sources. All batteries (primary and secondary) must categorize no less than 2.05 volts per cell under load, and have no leakage or corrosion. 

Fortis also looks at the surroundings of the Alarm and Security devices. While smoke detectors, duct detectors, and heat detectors should be reviewed twice a year, their surroundings can become just as hazardous in case of an emergency. All of these detectors must be seen from a clear site, and not covered or blocked visually. 

We can help! 

At Fortis Fire & Safety, we understand the importance of reliable fire protection systems and offer comprehensive inspection services for fire sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems, alarm and detection systems, sound and communication systems, and integrated security systems. Our team of experts is highly trained and experienced in performing regularly scheduled and code-mandated inspections to ensure your building is protected year-round.

Learn more about our testing and inspection services, here.

Ensuring Fire Safety with Design Builds 

Fire is one of the most devastating incidents that can occur in any building. It not only causes significant damage to the property but also poses a severe threat to the safety of occupants. That’s why it’s important to have fire protection services in place. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of fire protection services in commercial and industrial buildings, healthcare facilities, educational institutions, and multi-family properties. We’ll also explore how design-build services can help prevent fires and ensure the safety of occupants.

Commercial & Industrial Buildings

Commercial and industrial buildings often have a high occupancy rate and contain valuable equipment and inventory. A fire in such buildings can cause significant damage and disrupt business operations. Moreover, the safety of employees and customers is at risk. Therefore, fire protection services are especially crucial for these buildings. 

Design-build services can help prevent fires by installing fire suppression systems, fire alarms, and sprinkler systems. These systems are designed to detect and extinguish fires before they cause extensive damage.

Healthcare Facilities

In healthcare facilities, fire protection services are essential to ensure the safety of patients, staff, and visitors. Fires can spread quickly in healthcare facilities due to the abundance of electrical equipment and medical gas systems. In addition to installing fire suppression systems, healthcare facilities require specialized fire protection solutions, such as clean agent systems that do not damage sensitive medical equipment. These systems are designed to prevent fires and minimize damage, while ensuring the safety of patients and staff.

Educational Institutions & Government Facilities

Educational institutions and government facilities are responsible for the safety of large numbers of people, including students, teachers, and employees. Fire protection services are critical in these facilities, as fires can quickly become deadly in crowded areas. 

Design-build services can help ensure the safety of occupants by installing fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and other fire suppression systems. These systems are designed to detect fires early, alert occupants, and control the spread of fire until emergency responders arrive.

Multi-Family Properties

In multi-family properties, fire protection services are crucial to ensure the safety of tenants and protect the building from damage. Fires in multi-family properties can spread quickly, and occupants may not have sufficient time to evacuate the building. Design-build services can help prevent fires by installing fire alarms, smoke detectors, and sprinkler systems. These systems are designed to detect fires early, alert occupants, and control the spread of fire until emergency responders arrive. This helps to minimize damage and ensure the safety of occupants. 

How Design Builds Can be Essential

Importance of Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial for ensuring the proper functioning of fire protection systems in buildings. While installing fire protection systems is important, they can only be effective if they are regularly inspected, tested, and maintained. Regular maintenance can help identify any issues or malfunctions in the systems, which can then be addressed before they become more significant problems. This is essential for keeping the systems up to code and ensuring that they are functioning correctly in the event of a fire.

Design-build firms can provide ongoing support and maintenance services for fire protection systems. They have the expertise and knowledge to carry out regular inspections and maintenance checks, ensuring that the systems are in good working order. They can also help identify potential issues and provide solutions to rectify them. By working with a design-build firm for regular maintenance, building owners and managers can have peace of mind knowing that their fire protection systems are in good hands.

In addition to ensuring proper functioning, regular maintenance can also help extend the lifespan of fire protection systems. By identifying and addressing potential issues early on, the need for costly repairs or replacements can be avoided. Regular maintenance can also help ensure that the systems remain compliant with any relevant regulations or codes.

Compliance with Regulations

Compliance with regulations is essential for any building, especially when it comes to fire safety. Different industries and building types may have specific regulations and standards that need to be followed to ensure that the building is safe for its occupants. A design-build firm can help ensure that your building is up to code and compliant with any relevant regulations or standards. By working closely with architects, engineers, and other professionals, they can ensure that your building meets all necessary safety requirements.

Final Notes

Fire protection services are crucial in ensuring the safety of occupants and protecting property from damage. Design-build services can help prevent fires by installing fire suppression systems, fire alarms, and sprinkler systems. These systems are designed to detect fires early, alert occupants, and control the spread of fire until emergency responders arrive. 

If you’re looking for fire protection services, consider working with a design-build firm that can provide comprehensive fire protection solutions tailored to your specific needs.

Need Assistance with Design Builds For Your Building?

At Fortis, we provide cutting-edge expertise in fire protection planning, design, and construction. We understand the challenges that modern facilities face and utilize our experience to find efficient and cost-effective solutions. From initial planning to acceptance testing and beyond, we offer a comprehensive suite of services.

We utilize the latest in computer-automated design to map out your system so we know the exact specifications before we even set foot on your job site. No need for drawings, we can map your facility and create blueprints from scratch.

We facilitate BIM coordination for new construction projects. We work with your BIM coordinator to load in our plans to avoid structural conflicts before they happen.

Additionally, all of our designers are NICET certified in their respective fields.

Learn more about our fire protection services, here.

What is a Monitored Fire Alarm System? 

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that fires in commercial buildings cost owners over $2.4 billion per year. Wowza! This considered, fire alarm systems are essential in the prevention of fires in commercial buildings.

Moreover, fire alarm systems can help to:

  • Reduce damage to property
  • Protect valuable assets
  • And, save lives

But today, we have to ask: Is a regular fire alarm system enough?

OK, OK… Before you roll your eyes, hear us out. Fire alarm systems are an excellent and crucial first step in protecting your property. However, as a property owner, you may be able to do more!

A monitored fire alarm system can help to further prevent or reduce costly damage to your property while also better protecting its residents.

Read on to learn what a monitored fire alarm system is and how it can better protect your property.

What is a Monitored Fire Alarm System?

A monitored fire alarm system is an alarm system that has been programmed to transmit signals to a central station or fire control center. In simple terms, when the alarm goes off, the system will immediately alert an operator who will dispatch the appropriate fire protection team to your building.

A monitored fire alarm system ensures that the fire department is alerted to the fire as quickly as possible, without someone having to make the call. The seconds or minutes that a monitored fire alarm system might save you could make the difference between life and death (as dramatic as it sounds, it’s true!)

Monitored fire alarm systems are most commonly used in commercial facilities—and for good reason.

What is the Difference Between a Fire Alarm System and Fire Alarm Monitoring?

A fire alarm system sets off an alarm—usually a series of local, audible devices—to alert people in the building that a fire has been detected and to evacuate immediately. A fire alarm system does not notify the fire department of the detected fire. The fire department will not be dispatched unless someone calls 911.

On the other hand, a monitored fire alarm system will transmit a signal to a central station or fire control center where an operator will dispatch the appropriate fire department to your building—without anyone in the building calling 911.

How Does a Monitored Fire Alarm System Work?

A monitored fire alarm system has an installed control panel that will detect a fire and immediately transmit a signal to a monitoring station. The operator at the station will notify the fire department when they receive the signal. 

Signals can be transmitted via:

  • Cell phones
  • Phone lines
  • Radios
  • The internet

Why Does My Building Need a Monitored Fire Alarm System?

The answer to this is simple: Monitored fire alarms buy you, at the very least, a few extra minutes. In the case of a fire, a few extra minutes can be the difference in both saving buildings and saving lives.

In as little as thirty seconds, a fire can double in size, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Additionally, a fire will spread even quicker if its surroundings are flammable, such as products that may be found in a warehouse or particular furniture.

If your building is equipped with a fire alarm system that isn’t monitored, the fire department will only be dispatched when someone manages to call 911 after sounding alarms, a fire suppression system or sprinklers, and a quick evacuation of all residents.

Considering these stressful protocols, how quickly do you trust your residents to call 911?

When Will the Monitored Fire Alarm System Protect My Building?

Monitored fire alarm systems provide 24-hour protection, seven days a week. 

For instance, even if a fire occurs at nighttime or while your building is unoccupied, a monitored alarm system will ensure there is no delay in notifying the fire department.

How Do I Know If My Fire Alarm is Monitored?

A common error amongst commercial building owners is incorrectly assuming their fire alarm systems are monitored. Consequently, when a fire occurs, the call to 911 is severely delayed. This error leads to the destruction of the buildings that might have been saved if the proper precautions had taken place.

The default option for many fire alarm systems is the installation of a single-station fire alarm, which doesn’t include the feature of sending a signal to the fire department.

If you’re not sure if your fire alarm system is monitored, you can have a fire and security service quickly inspect your system to let you know. 

The Bottom Line

Fires happen often—every 63 seconds, in fact. This considered, commercial property owners should be adequately prepared to avoid the costly damages to their valuable assets and protect their residents.

Monitored fire alarm systems are a strong method of improving the protection of your property and its residents by ensuring the fire department is dispatched as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to our team today and let’s figure out how to best protect your building.

Understanding the Five Classes of Fire and How to Extinguish Them Safely

In the event of a fire, knowing the five classes can help you to use the most effective fire extinguishing agents and techniques to safely suppress the flames. 

In this article, we’ll cover each fire class, how each type of fire can happen, the varying materials that can serve as fuel, and how you can safely extinguish the flames. (Hint: don’t always use water to put out fires– it can make it worse!) 

Please note these fire classifications follow the U.S. standard system for classifying fires. 

What is a Fire Class?

Fire classes are a system of categorizing fires by factors such as the type of material and fuel for combustion as well as the best methods to extinguish or suppress them. The fire classes are Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class K. 

Class A Fires: Ordinary Combustibles

Class A fires are the most common of the classes of fires. Class A fires occur when common combustibles–such as wood, paper, trash cloth, and some plastics– serve as fuel for the fire.  Some of these materials may include:

  • Cloth and fabric: clothing, home furnishings, curtains
  • Wood: furniture, building, crafting or construction supplies, logs in fireplaces
  • Paper: books, office supplies, magazines, newspapers, trash 
  • Plastics: plastic containers, toys, disposable bags
  • Rubber: such as the rubber in shoes

How Do Class A Fires Start?

Class A fires are the most common because ordinary combustibles are often found in everyday life. An ordinary combustibles fire can start through scenarios such as a candle falling over or a hot match being tossed into the trash.

How to Extinguish Class A Fires

According to the Fire Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, the best methods to extinguish Class A fires is either with a foam fire extinguisher or with water.   

Class B Fires: Flammable Liquids and Gases

Class B fires involve flammable liquids and gases, especially petroleum or petroleum-based products. Some examples include:

  • Gasoline
  • Paint
  • Kerosine
  • Propane
  • Butane

However, Class B does not typically include fires involving cooking oils or grease. These materials are in their own class, Class K.

How Do Class B Fires Start?

Class B fires occur when flammable liquids ignite. For example, lighter fluid may catch fire on a charcoal grill or gasoline, grease or paint may ignite while a mechanic is working on a car. 

How to Extinguish Class B Fires

The best method of extinguishing Class B fires is by smothering them or cutting the oxygen supply using foam, powder, or carbon dioxide fire suppression equipment, such as extinguishers. 

It is important not to use a water extinguisher on a Class B fire as water may spread the flammable material and cause the fire.

Class C Fires: Electrical Fires

Class C fires involve an electricity source and/or electric equipment. They may begin from:

  • A short circuit
  • Faulty wiring
  • Electrical/power cord damage 
  • Faulty Breaker boxes
  • Damaged appliances
  • Overloaded electrical outlets

How Do Class C Fires Start?

Class C fires can occur in many situations. An example would be an overloaded outlet causing the plug and/or cord of the device to spark and set on fire.

How to Extinguish Class C Fires

Since suppressing Class C fires can be complicated, we’ve broken down the process into a few short steps:

  1. If it is safe, disconnect the item from its power source. 
  2. Extinguish the fire using a carbon dioxide or dry powder fire extinguisher. These are non-conductive extinguishing agents that will help protect you from electrical shock and cut off the fire’s oxygen supply.
  3. Do not use water or a foam extinguisher, as you would with Class A fires. Water and foam conduct electricity and could make the situation more dangerous.

Class D Fires: Combustible Metal Fires

Class D fires involve metals catching on fire. Flammable metals include, but are not limited to:

  • Titanium
  • Aluminum
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

How Do Class D Fires Start?

Metallic fires require extreme heat to ignite and start most often when the materials are in the form of fines, such as metal dust. This may occur, for example, at manufacturing plants, laboratories or warehouses that cut, drill or mill metal materials.

How to Extinguish Class D Fires

Class D fires should not be put out with water because water can make the fire more dangerous. Instead, use a dry powder fire extinguisher or other dry powder agents to smother the fire. 

Class K Fires: Cooking Fires

Class K fires, similar to Class B fires, occur as a result of the combustion of flammable liquids. Class K fires are categorized separately because of their unique setting and are instead associated with cooking liquids in the food service and restaurant industry. These liquid cooking materials include:

  • Grease
  • Oils
  • Animal fats
  • Vegetable fats 

How Do Class K Fires Start?

Cooking fires can happen by leaving cooking food unattended–remember when your mom told you not to do that? This is why!– or forgetting to turn off the stove. 

How to Extinguish Class K Fires

It may be your instinct in the kitchen to toss a glass of water on the fire, but that could make it worse. Cooking fires can spread quickly and are often worsened by water.  Instead, smother the fire-like putting a large metal lid over a small fire in a pan- to cut off the oxygen supply or use a wet agent fire extinguisher.  Still have some questions on how to best protect your property from the five classes of fire? Contact our team at Fortis and we’ll find a solution that fits your needs, property, and budget.

A Business Owner’s Guide to Building Security

As a business owner, building security is crucial to protecting your property and staff.  According to statistics provided by the FBI, 60% of burglaries occur outside of working hours. Why? Outside of working hours, your staff is typically less equipped to respond quickly and efficiently to the incident. In some cases, the staff may not even notice the incident is occurring.

Additionally, following the COVID-19 pandemic, more business owners are managing their business remotely. Not being at their building in person can cause business owners to feel concerned about the security of their business, but they don’t have to!

With the right protocols and systems in place, business owners can feel confident that their building is secure and safe, whether they are clocking in upstairs or from their living room. 

Let’s dive into how to make this possible.

First, How Can Improved Security Benefit Your Business?

We understand–business owners have a lot on their plate and security may not always be the first priority. However, the right security can provide a host of benefits for your business. For example:

  • Improved customer confidence in shopping on the premises
  • Prevention of issues like  break-ins, vandalism, or robbery
  • Heightened employee safety both during and outside of business hours 

Let’s Talk about Integrated Security Systems

Integrated security systems provide a solution to many security challenges faced by business owners. Let’s discuss what integrated security systems are and how they can protect your building and business (even after business hours or from home!).

Intrusion and Detection Alarm Systems

Intrusion systems are designed to use your existing IT infrastructure to increase efficiency. These solutions are scalable, reliable systems used for a wide variety of applications. They can be utilized in spaces such as mixed-use commercial office complexes to high-risk facilities.  

How do Intrusion and Detection Alarms Work?

State-of-the-art technologies in intrusion systems implement event notifications sent to mobile phones and remote system management. These technologies can keep you up-to-date with the status of your facility, even when you are not there. 

Closed-Circut Television (CCTV)

Closed-circuit television, or CCTV,  is a television system in which signals are monitored for surveillance and security purposes. These signals are not publicly distributed. 

How Does CCTV Work?

CCTV relies on the strategic placement of cameras as well as the consistent monitoring of the footage. CCTV cameras communicate with monitors and/or video recorders through private coaxial cable runs or wireless communication links. This allows the communication to be private and allows only the intended audience to be able to view the footage.

Access Control Systems

As the name implies, access control systems manage access. These systems control who enters the building or site and prevents unauthorized visitors from entering the facility. Access control systems are designed to maintain control over who comes into the building without impeding the work of those who are authorized.

How Do Access Control Systems Work?

While the details can vary depending on the types of access control and system the business owner selects, the main elements of an access control system are typically the same. These elements include: 

  • The tag
  • Tag reader
  • Access control panel
  • Lock(s)

These elements cooperate to create an easy and simple experience for the user. 

Further, these systems can be scaled from small businesses to multi-location companies with thousands of employees.

Video Monitoring Systems

Video monitoring systems provide an array of benefits for a business, such as improving employee safety and productivity.  Hybrid digital and analog camera systems deter theft by preventing unfounded lawsuits and reducing incidents of work-site harassment. 

How Do Video Monitoring Systems Work?

Video Monitoring systems can be analog, digital or hybrid. Business owners can select which of these options works best for their business and their budget.

A digital video surveillance system is “a surveillance system capable of capturing images and videos that can be compressed, stored or sent over communication networks. Digital video surveillance systems can be used for nearly any environment.” Depending on the system, internet protocol (IP) cameras may be used. These cameras require only a local network.

Analog systems use traditional cameras you see in camera systems. These cameras record images to a video recorder and send them through a coaxial cable to a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Analog systems tend to be simpler than digital surveillance systems. 

Need Help With Building Security For Your Business?

From high-end access control systems to basic intrusion detection components, our highly skilled Fortis teams design systems that optimize your existing infrastructure and augment them with the latest in proven technologies.

Learn more about our integrated security services, here.

How to Prepare For Fire Safety Inspections

Fire safety inspections are an important part of maintaining a safe and secure commercial property. These inspections are conducted by certified fire safety inspectors to ensure that your property is in compliance with local, state, and federal fire codes. As a property owner, it is your responsibility to prepare your building for these inspections and to take necessary steps to address any potential hazards. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive checklist of items to prepare for a fire safety inspection. From paperwork to proof of services and inspections, we will guide you through the process of getting your property ready for a successful inspection.

Prepare Your Paperwork

Collect and organize paperwork showing any steps your business takes to address fire protection and any previous inspection violations. This demonstrates that your business is committed to meeting requirements.

Collect Proof of Services and Inspections

Keep track of services and inspections that licensed professionals have performed on your systems, such as:

  • Serviced fire alarms
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Sprinkler systems, and
  • Fire pumps

Make Appointments for Outstanding Maintenance

Contact some trained professionals to help with the maintenance of your fire protection systems. This will not only help you pass inspections but also will protect your people and property.

Not sure if your commercial property needs servicing? Read on to learn how often fire protection systems should be serviced.

Take Precautions Against Special Hazards

Special hazards are areas that require special hazard fire equipment and fire alarms.

Building owners should note that special hazards are not specific fire hazards that occur as a result of certain situations or triggers, such as a flammable liquid being too close to a heat source.

Instead, special hazards can be things like gasoline pumps, computer server rooms, or storage areas that may contain flammable or combustible chemicals.

Read on to learn more about solutions to special hazards.

Clear Clutter

To prepare for a fire safety inspection, building owners should make it a priority to avoid clutter. Why? Clutter can quickly become combustible waste and serve as fuel for fires.

Combustible waste can take many forms, including:

  • Trash (i.e. cardboard boxes, paper, cartons, etc.)
  • Debris
  • Plant matter
  • Yard trimmings
  • Fallen trees
  • Wood, and
  • Leaves

Fire laws prohibit the accumulation of these items anywhere except intended disposal locations.

Lastly, property owners should make an active effort to keep their hallways free from obstructions.

Properly Store Combustible Waste

It can be difficult to keep combustible materials off your property at all times. Instead, we suggest prioritizing safe storage for these materials to prepare for an inspection. 

For example, property owners can:

  • Use lids on containers 40 gallons or greater
  • Keep containers exceeding a capacity of 40.5 cubic feet outdoors and over five feet away from construction work
  • Keep storage containers away from the building, and
  • Ensure storage containers near facilities don’t contain oily rags or other unsafe materials without proper container identifications

This will help keep any staff working on the property safe as well as help prepare the space for inspection.

Ensure Efficient Entry for the Fire Department 

According to national codes, all buildings must offer firefighters safe and immediate access.

Complying with this code should be simple. Most businesses comply with this code by mounting fire department lock boxes on the outside of their building.

This way, in the event of an emergency, the fire department can open the lock boxes with a master key and enter the building.

Make Sure the Fire Department Has Access to Water

Building owners should clearly mark all fire hydrants and ensure they are available for use. Additionally, fire hydrants must have three feet of clear space on all sides to allow firefighters access. 

Further, to prepare for inspection, building owners can check the fire department connection (FDC) that allows firefighters to supply water to a sprinkler system. This system should also be marked and accessible.

Need Help Preparing For Inspection?

Ensure your building is safe and up to fire protection code compliance by partnering with a company that specializes in fire protection. With over 300 NFPA codes and standards, the rules can get complicated quickly– especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Luckily, we do.  At Fortis, we provide world-class fire protection services nationwide. Learn more about our services, here.