What is the difference between active and passive life safety systems?

Active life safety systems

Active systems require an action or mechanism to activate and provide protection. For example, the brakes, seatbelts, and airbags in your car are all types of active life safety systems. In buildings, active systems like fire alarm systems detect smoke quickly, giving as much notice as possible to begin evacuation. Then fire suppression systems activate to contain the fire to prevent it from spreading.

Active life safety systems include (to name a few):

  • fire alarm system smoke detectors
  • fixed fire suppression systems like sprinklers
  • portable fire suppression systems like fire extinguishers
  • firefighters
  • and more

Passive life safety systems

Passive systems do not require any mechanism to activate; they continuously provide protection. For example, the bumper or windshield on your car are types of passive life safety systems. In buildings, these systems prevent the spread of smoke and flames to other areas.

Passive life safety systems include (to name a few):

  • smoke compartments
  • rated barriers, doors, and assemblies
  • means of egress
  • and more

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