Let’s consider the buildings we occupy as carefully constructed ecosystems, comprising many components that must work cohesively to deliver safety, comfort and value for occupants. Fire safety systems play a key role in the ecosystem of any building, as they are directly responsible for protecting human health and well-being.
Fire safety systems themselves typically include several different elements that need to be sourced and assembled, with specified components that should function both individually and holistically.
Mechanical and engineering consultants tend to design fire systems in collaboration with specialist sprinkler contractors. To ensure systems meet the required standards for safety, sustainability, performance and quality, they should be approved by Underwriter Laboratories (UL). This improves compliance with NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) codes and standards and ultimately makes the design, selection, sizing, procurement, assembly and testing processes simpler and more efficient.
In my experience with Armstrong Fluid Technology, it is containerised fire pump house solutions that help address key challenges for fire safety solutions. Using ready-built, ‘plug and play’ systems provides the perfect solution to ensure easy installation, effective functionality and compliance.
Essentially, containerised solutions are systems that are specially designed and pre-assembled before arriving to a facility, so upon arrival they must simply be connected to the system. They also offer a high degree of customisation through choice of components, which can be aligned with the needs of the specific building to create opportunities for improved tenant safety.
It’s important to understand why containerised systems are advantageous for contractors, building operators or owners. They can shorten construction schedules and reduce costs, by offering a number of benefits along the supply chain, from logistics to construction to operation.
Typically, fire safety systems are ‘stick-built’ – meaning they are assembled on-site, which presents a number of challenges for the parties involved. For designers and consultants, they must ensure all components required are sized correctly and that all equipment supplied meets their specification, in addition to dealing with a number of different suppliers. For installing contractors, purchasing, handling and coordinating all the components to build a complete fire pump system on-site presents its own set of challenges; pieces can get lost or go missing, leading to construction delays. Moreover, additional time and labour is required on site to construct fire safety systems.
However, by using detailed drawings that show the exact dimensions and connection locations, bespoke, pre-tested containerised solutions can be designed and assembled prior to delivery.
The pump houses can simply be sited and connected to the rest of the sprinkler system. Since they are created specifically to suit the requirements of each project, their performance can be tailored to comply with the exact specification of each building.
Usually, specialised labour is required to install the pump. Containerised solutions help to reduce the time and skills required by simplifying installation and removing any build complications, thus reducing install time.
When it comes to time saving, their installation time represents a reduction of up to 95 per cent relative to loose equipment.
In regard to logistics, pre-assembled solutions enable rapid, low-risk deployment as they are shipped in standard 20-ft or 40-ft-size containers, making them easy to ship and install. Fast installation, combined with minimal need for labour, makes them perfect for new-build or retrofit solutions.
The factors discussed thus far all lead to cost savings benefits that highlight the advantage of containerised solutions. Ultimately, they simplify the essential requirements for a fire safety system in a building. The modular, fully-contained design not only makes them easily portable but also easy to operate, maintain and service, which lowers costs along the entire process from transportation to installation to maintenance.
In addition, these solutions provide an opportunity for building developers to improve safety and reduce costs with just one decision.
Given current Covid-19 health and safety requirements, the need for less labour on-site, easier commissioning and on-time delivery is more important than ever before: containerised, pre-engineered packaged solutions are the next evolution for fire protection projects in the Middle East and Africa.
* Armstrong Fluid Technology is an innovator in the design, engineering and manufacturing of intelligent fluid flow equipment, control solutions and digital technologies.