How Technology Helps People Escape An Office Building Fire

Technology advancements have increased productivity in many industries, but they can also save lives. Many office buildings today have fire and life safety systems that are controlled by computer systems. If you work in an office building, you may be interested in learning more about these computer systems.

The brain of the computer system: PLC

A PLC is a programmable logic controller. This is basically the brain of the computer system. It is programmed to do what is necessary based on readings the computer gets from various sensors and monitors. One of the things a PLC monitors is the fire sprinkler system.

Sprinkler activation alerts the PLC

Each fire sprinkler has a bulb that ruptures in extreme heat. A ruptured bulb turns on the sprinkler. The PLC recognizes when water is being used by a sprinkler. The PLC is programmed to quickly assess readings from smoke detectors and heat sensors located throughout the building to assess the severity of the fire.

The PLC sends commands throughout the building

As soon as it sees that a fire sprinkler has activated and it has verified other readings, the PLC commands the following important life-saving tasks:

  • Elevators are recalled to the ground floor and disabled. The doors are opened and locked into the open position. This prevents anyone from getting trapped inside them.
  • Stairwell pressurization begins. This is done with large fans that are turned on by the PLC. It causes the air in the stairwells to be pressurized to reduce the ability for smoke and fire to get into the stairwell. Basically, the fans prevent heat and smoke from rising up the stairwells.
  • The ventilation system dampers are closed. This keeps smoke from getting into the heating and air conditioning ducts where it can spread to the rest of the building.
  • The electricity is disabled and the emergency lighting system is turned on. This is done to shut power off to equipment and appliances that may cause further damage. The lighting system provides lighting to guide people as they evacuate the building.

The PLC calls the fire department

Simultaneously, the PLC also alerts the fire department that there is a fire in progress. It can be designed to tell the fire department which part of the building is in flames and if the fire is progressing to other parts of the building.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how fire and life safety systems work, you may be able to remain calm while you escape a fire if one occurs in your office building. If you have more questions about how PLCs work, contact a company like Flodyne Incorporated.