Fire-fighting tech for homes and offices

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By Vigneswar Rajasurian

The dangers of a fire in our homes or offices should not be taken lightly. According to statistics from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department, billions of ringgit worth of properties are destroyed in fire-related incidents every year. 

There is much news on a variety of new technology like drones and robots being tested or already in use by some fire departments across the world. This begs the question, what about fire-fighting tech for the general public to use in homes and offices? 

Here are some fire-fighting tech found in Malaysia or is alternatively available abroad and could eventually end up in local homes or offices. 

Smart smoke detectors

Smoke detectors in Malaysia

Caption: Smart smoke detectors can integrate with mobile applications and other smart devices in your home.

Older generation smoke detectors are still sufficient to get the job done. However, technology has significantly improved and the appeal of a newer generation of smoke detectors is hard to ignore.

These smart smoke detectors send notifications to your mobile wherever you are as opposed to just hearing beeps emanating from the detector. It also allows you to turn off alarms on your mobile rather than physically pressing the button on older smoke detectors. An example of smart smoke detectors available abroad includes the Google Nest Protect.

An interesting variation of newer smoke detectors includes video surveillance to monitor the extent of any fire remotely. Another brilliant variation includes built-in stereo speakers, which transforms the device from a mere safety feature to a dual-purpose entertainment feature as well.

Fire suppression grenades

A fire suppression ball is being tossed into the fire during a demonstration in Kuching, Sarawak.

A fire suppression ball is being tossed into the fire during a demonstration in Kuching, Sarawak.

Early fire suppression devices were glass bottles with salt water until about the 1900s. In the 19th century, the liquids in these devices were replaced with chemical agents.

Much like a grenade, these devices are thrown into small fires or mounted on wall-brackets that release the solution upon exposure to high temperatures.

In recent years, these devices have evolved to become safer and more effective. Modern variations of these fire suppression devices include a fire extinguishing ball.

Fire blankets

Wall mounted fire blanket

Wall mounted fire blanket

Fire blankets are not new but are relatively neglected by the masses. It is immensely useful in putting off small fires, especially for those who are inexperienced in using fire extinguishers. 

Typical ABC Dry Powder fire extinguishers also cause a big mess while damaging furniture and sensitive equipment, sometimes in excess of damage caused by a small fire. While these extinguishers are still a must-have, it would be overkill when, for example, used against a small kitchen fire.

Fire blankets are not warm and cosy blankets to snuggle up in but rather are made of fire-resistant fabric and are only to be used one-off for putting off small fires. 

The blankets work by covering the fire and starving it of oxygen. It can also be helpful when escaping from a burning building. However, fire blankets should not be used for fires from high-voltage electrical sources.

Portable fire extinguishers

A fire safety demonstration, which features the Nano Particle Portable Fire Eliminator JE-50.

A fire safety demonstration, which features the Nano Particle Portable Fire Eliminator JE-50.

Caption: A fire safety demonstration, which features the Nano Particle Portable Fire Eliminator JE-50.

Smaller portable versions of typical fire extinguishers have also long existed but require regular servicing. For public service vehicles like taxis and buses, it is required by the Road Transport Department (RTD) regulations to carry a fire extinguisher. 

However, there is a slew of newer extinguishers that are easier to use and cheaper to maintain. An example is the Portable Fire Eliminator JE-50. The handheld device is more environmentally friendly and has less damaging residue. 

Unlike typical aerosol-propelled fire extinguishers, the device uses a nano-particle chemical reaction to extinguish fires. So it is not affected by heat, only needs servicing after five years and can be stored easily in places such as the kitchen, bedroom or car.

Standard fire extinguisher

Fire extinguishers should be serviced at least once a year.

Fire extinguishers should be serviced at least once a year.

Building and safety regulations do require fire extinguishers for any home and office. Any fire fighting tech discussed here should only serve as a supplement to traditional fire extinguishers.

ABC Dry Powder fire extinguishers are multi-purpose fire extinguishers suitable for Class A, B & C fires. It can also be used on electrical fires but leaves a residue that may damage sensitive electronics and furnishings. Carbon dioxide (CO²)  extinguishers are safer to use around electrical devices and for fires from electrical devices or Class B fires such as petrol.

The ABC dry powder extinguishers will continue to lose pressure after use and can’t be used after a few hours. CO² fire extinguishers, on the other hand, can be reused until the CO² in the canister has depleted.


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