Before there were modern day fire alarm control panels and easy-to-use touch screen computer interfaces, the only defense against fire was for an individual to call for emergency response services. The first electric smoke detector was patented over 100 years ago, but was unable to be affordably mass produced until around 1970. Prior to then only large businesses were able to afford smoke detectors. Up until fairly recently most fire alarm control systems were also prohibitively expensive for all but the largest companies. Fire control equipment is constantly evolving as are the fire codes. There are many considerations to be concerned with when dealing with fire control panels and fire suppression systems.
As advancements in electronics and computers were made the cost of fire alarms have leveled. Newer effective fire suppression chemicals have also increased the effectiveness of fire suppression systems. Depending upon the type and purpose of the building, specific types of fire suppression systems may be required for the intended purpose. For example, restaurants will require a different fire suppression system than a computerized data center.
Of all the varying types of suppression systems available on the market, the most commonly installed is a standard wet pipe system which is what most of the public has seen throughout retail shopping stores. Other systems can be dry pipe systems or strictly use a chemical suppression system designed for sensitive electronics or conditions where grease or other flammable liquids may be present.
If the building is in the planning stages a basic fire sprinkler can seem like a sizable investment. If the building in question is already completed or being purchased retrofitting the structure may be necessary in order to bring the property up to minimum fire code requirements. The cost can be much higher than new construction. It is important to note regarding real estate transactions of commercially zoned property that real estate agents will very likely be ill equipped to make an informed assessment of any fire control panel or suppression system. Contacting a fire alarm or security company which may inspect fire suppression equipment may be necessary to prevent additional costly oversights after the real estate transaction has been completed.
Regardless of the type of business, it is mandatory to have an inspection performed of any fire sprinkler or suppression system present at regularly scheduled intervals. Usually the interval is consistent with a one year period. In many jurisdictions, however, it may be more frequently required.
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