Flaws in life safety systems are seldom discovered early or fast as major fires are rare occurrences and a faulty life safety system only becomes evident in a post-fire investigation.
Usually, this doesn’t arise if the system is properly installed and regularly maintained thereafter. However, it is also seen that life safety systems may be victims of certain engineering and design errors, which are discussed below.
This calls for the addition of the water flow rates of such multiple systems and balancing them with the system with the highest pressure demand. One also needs to ensure that the pressure demand of multiple systems are relatively close. The failure to adopt this principle is often a problem.
As per NFPA guidelines, the suction tank should refill automatically within 8 hours from a source that’s capable of replenishing the required volume of two hours. It is often seen that the suction source is inadequate and exposes a property to fire hazards without adequate water.
Should this be the case, the fire insurer may raise issues and deny a loss claim. Moreover, the maintenance and/or engineering of the supply source often don’t meet the standards needed to address risks that come with the electric generating station, mostly due to lack of testing and routine maintenance.
Moreover, oil lines and bearing seal areas aren’t protected by automatic preaction-directional water spray systems and oil flow areas beneath the operating floor of the turbine-generator aren’t covered by automatic sprinklers. This is yet another major problem, discovered only after a forced outage.
The crux of the matter, therefore, is that faulty life safety systems are a complete lose-lose situation. Not only does this expose valuable assets to inadequate protection, they also lead to much higher insurance premiums throughout the asset’s life. Worse still are gross injury or even death in the worst cases.