Fire safety in Finland is in a poor state; 6000-7000 fires erupt in buildings annually and 90 percent of deaths related to fires happen in buildings. The risk is especially great for the elderly and people with a limited ability to function.
In a nutshell, fires erupt a lot, people die in their homes and the victims have a limited ability to function. The safety of the elderly is not invested in enough. The prevention of deaths related to fires is technically easy and affordable with an automated fire-extinguishing system.
How do fires in homes erupt?
According to assessments done in apartments in 2014, life-threatening risks are caused by cooking and the use of the stove. Oftentimes food or other flammable things are left on the stove. Smoking and use of other substances are also considered to be a big cause for fires. A considerable part of the risk is the inability to function during a fire, leaving the building too slowly, and the inability to act appropriately (for example people who suffer from memory disorders).
How can a fire be prevented and put out?
- fire detectors: fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, gas alarms
- special fire alarms (e.g. vibrating alarms and alarms with lights)
- hand extinguishers and smothering blankets
- wristbands with a panic button and panic alarm phones
- timers: coffee machine timers, safety timers for stoves
- overheating protectors for stoves
- stove guards
- remote access, sound/picture, monitoring call
This equipment does not ensure the safety and survival of people with limited mobility during an apartment fire, however it is wise to have extinguishing equipment in your home.
How does limited ability to function affect in an emergency?
Mobility is essential when considering survival, because the resident must be able to exit their apartment 2-3 minutes after the fire has ignited. Wrist bands with a panic button, fire alarms, fire detectors, home care or exit plans might not be enough for someone with limited ability to function. An elderly in poor health might not survive a fire. The ability to function can mean limited mobility, or the ability to understand and sense your surroundings.
In 2010, the average age of fire victims was 57 years, however the greatest risk lies with the age group of 80-89 years. Life-threatening fires can be building fires, vehicle fires, and wildfires. In a fire situation the victim can rarely call it in.
How can deaths related to fires in homes be prevented?
An automated fire-extinguishing system is the most efficient way to prevent deaths related to fires and reduces injuries and damage to property caused by fires. A per apartment fire-extinguishing system brings safety to residents, especially when their mobility is limited.
A per apartment fire-extinguishing system is a flexible system where sprinkler devices can be installed into separate apartments instead of installing a common system into the entire building. By having a per apartment system, single apartments can be protected if needed. The fire-extinguishing system activates when it senses heat; the sprinkler goes off when the temperature of the surrounding environment reaches approximately 68 degrees Celsius.
The source of water for a fire-extinguishing system is a 300-400 litre water tank, which is aided by a booster pump. The operating time is 30 minutes. The fire-extinguishing system has been designed to be portable and suitable for the pressure classifications of a water fixture. Before taking into use, a water flow measurement is performed and the functionality of the alarm system is tested. The system must be serviced once a year; the water flow of the pump is performed and the alarm system is tested. The execution of the system has been done in collaboration with the safety and regulation inspector of Pirkanmaa.
When considering fire-extinguishing systems, installing just any sprinkler system in a single-family home might be difficult. However, a small Caverion fire-extinguishing system can be installed by a professional. The estimated expenses are approximately 7000€.
Do sprinklers work or do they just cause unnecessary water damage?
Claim: Sprinklers are faulty and go off unintentionally.
Answer: They do not go off unintentionally. The technique of sprinkler systems has been used since the 19th century and it has been tested well.
Claim: The entire building will get wet when the sprinklers all go off at once.
Answer: The amount of sprinklers that go off depend on the extent of the area of the fire. Usually only one sprinkler is needed.
Claim: The water from the sprinklers causes greater damage than the actual fire.
Answer: A sprinkler system actually minimises water damage due to it putting out the fire when it is still small and requires less water to do so.
Claim: A fire alarm is sufficient protection.
Answer: A regular fire alarm does not benefit people with a limited ability to function, the deaf, the intoxicated, or a sleeping child. It also does not constrict the fire.