A devastating fire is one of the biggest risks a company can face. At worst, it can cripple the company for a long time or for good. Despite this, too often, companies cut corners or only meet minimum requirements on fire safety.

One in five Finnish properties have shortcomings in the maintenance of fire protection technology. This can be seen in statistics from routine fire safety inspections collected by the Fire Prevention Technology Development Group under the coordination of the Finnish National Rescue Association SPEK.

Identified shortcomings in the fire protection technology of buildings include poor cooperation between equipment and building services, missing documentation and even neglect of maintenance.

– Unfortunately, the value and impact of fire safety, particularly fire protection technology such as fire alarms and extinguishing systems, on cost-effectiveness is sufficiently understood and invested in only after the risk of fire has materialised and caused extensive damage, says Lauri Lehto, Fire Protection Technology Specialist at SPEK.

It’s not just about technology, but the people and business continuity that technology protects

In a fire safe building, the ways in which different systems support each other and how maintenance and modernisation have been ensured has been taken into account already in the design and procurement stages. For example, the fire safety of shopping centres must take into account how large crowds of people are managed. In such situations, an integrated fire and evacuation alarm and public address system has a particularly important role in directing people while the cause of the fire alarm is investigated.

Once the cause is known, the necessary instructions can be issued so that people can be brought out of harm’s way quickly and in a controlled manner, if necessary. In these situations, effective technology must be supported by trained staff who can help manage and guide people during an emergency.

– Suitable and effective fire protection solutions, good fire safety culture and competent personnel are the best way to prevent and minimise the damage caused by fires, says Lehto.

The Fire Protection Technology Development Group has prepared a series of operating models that look at the management and evaluation of fire protection technology as a whole.