Fire is a devastating event that can happen to anyone at any time. Between January and April 2023, 79 recorded fire incidents raced through 46 overcrowded IDP camps, leaving 7,091 households (35,750 individuals) stranded. According to the Federal Fire service, property valued at more than N23.3 billion were lost to fire outbreaks in the country between October and December 2022. Fortunately, with the right knowledge and precautions, many of these fires can be prevented or contained. One crucial step in preventing or minimizing the damages caused by a fire is to fireproof your home. However, there are two ways to fireproof your home; They are Passive fire protection and Active fire protection.
Passive Fire Protection: This refers to building materials that have the ability to curb fire by preventing the fire from spreading. It is a built-in fire protection such as materials used for building fireproof walls.
Some of the methods for passive fire protection are:
- Intumescent Coatings: These coatings or paintings expand and thicken for creation of more insulation when heated, this in turn forms a barrier between the fire. Intumescent coatings can be applied on surfaces such as columns, beams, floors, roof, valves, tanks, metal pipes.
- Firestop Fireproofing: This is a kind of sealant that is added at the construction stage. The sealant closes up any joints or gaps between walls connections or areas between the wall and the ceiling.
- Spraying of Cementitious products: This works through the formation of thick, plaster-like barriers between the steel that forms the foundation and the fire. The cementitious products are sprayed on the surface of what you intend to fireproof as well as the foundation. Fireproofing the foundation helps to protect your foundation from falling or bending under high heat.
A passive fire protection helps to curtail and contain the fire or smoke in a specific area, which in turn prevents the fire from spreading. Another way to fireproof your home is through active fire protection.
Active Fire Protection: This involves manual operation, more like tools that can help you prevent and fight fire outbreaks. This involves an automatic response to fire outbreaks or detected smoke. Below are some examples of active fire protection:
- Install Smoke Detectors: Smoke detectors are the most important fire safety device for the home. They are designed to detect the presence of smoke and sound an alarm, giving occupants time to exit the building. The NFPA recommends installing smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Be sure to test smoke detectors regularly to ensure they are working correctly.
- Maintain Heating and Cooling Systems: Heating and cooling systems can be a source of fire if they are not maintained properly. It is essential to have these systems inspected and cleaned by a professional annually. Additionally, keep flammable materials away from these systems, such as clothes, paper, and cleaning supplies.
- Use Fire Retardant Materials: Using fire retardant materials in the home can help to reduce the spread of fire. Fire retardant materials are designed to resist ignition and slow down or stop the spread of flames. For example, consider using fire retardant spray on curtains, upholstered furniture, and bedding.
- Install Fire Resistant Doors and Windows: Fire resistant doors and windows can help to prevent the spread of fire by providing a barrier between rooms and the outside. These doors and windows are made of materials that do not burn easily, such as steel or a fire-rated composite material.
- Keep Flammable Materials Away from Electrical Outlets: Electrical outlets can overheat and start a fire if overloaded or if there are flammable materials nearby. To prevent fires, keep flammable materials, such as paper, clothes, and curtains, away from electrical outlets. Additionally, do not overload outlets by using extension cords or power strips.
The Benefits of Fireproofing the Home
- Protects Lives and Property: The most apparent benefit of fireproofing your home is that it helps to protect the lives of you and your loved ones. Smoke detectors can provide early warning of fire, allowing occupants to evacuate safely. Additionally, fireproofing can help to contain a fire once it starts, preventing it from spreading and saving property damage.
- Saves Money: Fire damages in homes can be costly. Fireproofing your home can help to reduce the risk of a fire happening, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in damages and repairs.
- Provides Peace of Mind: Knowing that your home is fireproofed can provide peace of mind and reduce the stress and worry about what could happen in case of a fire. This peace of mind can also help to improve mental health and well-being.
Fires can happen to anyone, but with the right precautions and knowledge, they can be prevented or contained. Fireproofing your home is a crucial step in reducing the risk of a fire and minimizing damages. By following these steps, you can help to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your property safe.