The Importance of Fire Alarm Design in Schools

Anthony Conte
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Fire alarm performance is crucial across all sectors, but education is perhaps the most important of all. Throughout the United States, K-12 schools are particularly vulnerable to emergencies where lives are in the balance. Fire alarm systems are responsible for alerting school building occupants to emergencies ranging from building fires to active shooter events. This is what makes outstanding fire alarm performance – and in turn, excellent fire alarm design – so critical. 


Data on School Building Fires 

According to the most recently available statistics from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated average of 3,230 structure fires in schools each year. On average, these fires cause one civilian death, 39 civilian injuries, and $37 million in direct property damage. Sadly, two-thirds of these school fires occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., while campuses are fully occupied by innocent students and staff. High performing fire alarm systems are needed to address these emergencies quickly, when seconds count. 

Causes of School Building Fires

FEMA reports that the three leading causes of school building fires are cooking (42%), intentional action (24%) and heating (10%). However, intentional action is the leading cause of school fires overall, as FEMA reported they account for 41% of non-confined school building fires (two of every five fires). The most common areas for these fires to be originated are in restrooms and locker rooms. 

Fire Alarm Design in Non-Fire Emergencies 

The stakes are high for improving fire alarm design on school campuses. Not only do schools use fire alarm systems to alert occupants of fires and automatically contact fire authorities for help; they also use them as public address systems for non-fire emergencies such as active shooter events. In fact, many experts believe that “active harmer” events (defined as an event where an individual is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, whether or not it involves a firearm) are more likely to occur in today’s schools than building fires. Most active harmer situations are over in 15 minutes or less, before law enforcement arrives onsite. This makes fire alarm performance even more imperative, so that authorities can be contacted as quickly as possible.

Improving Fire Alarm Design in Schools 

With FireCAD®, the initial fire alarm design phase can be simplified and perfected. From architect to engineer to contractor, the entire chain of production can use our software to create the reports they need for fire alarm approval. FireCAD® can be a valuable tool for everyone tasked with working on fire alarm design in schools. To learn more, contact us now. 

About Cadgen Software 

Cadgen makes using AutoCAD easier and faster with user-friendly FireCAD fire alarm design software. Our FireCAD product has saved countless contractors time on project completion, and it can do the same for you. Contact our sales department at (855) 206-1480 Ext. 1. Our knowledgeable team will be glad to answer your questions.  

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