Conventional fire-protection devices are history," say some engineers, architects and building owners. This surprising notion is rooted in two emerging schools of thought. One is that addressable devices-which can tell central command stations where a fire or smoke event is located-are becoming a preferred specification. The second is a belief that future building designs will rely more on fire-rated assemblies and compartmentation than detectors and sprinklers.
These philosophies are changing how building teams approach fire safety in design development, and are leading to more use of advances in fire-safety technology and architectural systems. Key areas include:
Firestopping. Novel sleeves and gaskets have been developed that offer cost-effective firestopping for penetrations through rated barriers in both new construction and renovations.
Intumescent door seals. To meet positive-pressure fire requirements, some wood doors are being fitted with intumescent sealants that expand to form a flame-resistant barrier when exposed to heat.
Addressable devices and control panels. Addressable systems allow detectors and alarms to report their status and location to a central panel. The technology can improve maintenance and dramatically cuts the time required to assess a trouble condition.