Fire Alarm system is a system consisting of a number of devices working together to detect and warn people through visual and audio appliances when smoke, fire, carbon monoxide or other emergencies are present. Fire Alarm systems give an early warning of a fire allowing people to evacuate a building safely.
Basic components of fire alarm system and how they work
A complete fire alarm system basically consists of three main components;
Initiation device– this device detects the smoke, fire, carbon monoxide or other emergencies present and send a signal to the fire alarm control panel. Examples of initiation devices include smoke detectors, heat detectors and manual pull stations.
Fire control panel– receives the signal from the initiation devices and trigger the notification device.
Notification device– Alerts occupants of a building of the fire through either alarm, bell or horn sounds for them to evacuate the building.
Categories of fire alarm systems
Conventional fire alarm system
Conventional fire alarm system consist of one or more circuits connected to sensors wired in parallel. Each device is connected to the control panel with its own wire. This alarm system is cost effective therefore ideal for smaller not large applications. Conventional fire alarm systems are considered dumb for their inability to provide detailed information. This is because, conventional alarm systems’ smoke or fire detection is done by zone which could be multiple locations rather than specifying a specific location.
Addressable fire alarm system
In addressable fire alarm system, also referred to as intelligent fire alarm system, all sensor or detector devices are connected and communicate to both with each other and the control panel. This characteristic of interconnectivity gives a definite location where the initial detection occurred unlike in conventional fire alarm system. This enables the fire emergency response team to deploy effectively their efforts with the precise location. They are designed for larger applications.
Wireless fire alarm system
Wireless fire alarm system operate via radio waves. Each device in the system connects and communicates with both each other and the control panel without any wiring at all. They are designed for both small and large applications. Wireless fire alarm systems offer benefits such as cost efficient installation, simpler maintenance and repair and faster alarm response time.
Factors to consider when choosing a fire alarm system
Place of use
One should consider the purpose of the location they are installing a fire alarm system, whether, its residential, public or commercial property. Fire alarm systems designed to detect fire maybe only ideal for residential property but for commercial property they need more than fire detection, they may incorporate fire suppression to extinguish the fire immediately reducing property damage.
The ease and location should be considered when choosing fire alarm system. Battery-powered fire alarm systems are easy to install, you can change the batteries with ease making them a great choice for residential buildings, whereas, hard-wired systems are hard to install, but are better option for businesses because they are more reliable than battery-powered systems.
Conventional fire alarm system are designed for small applications thus ideal for singe residential building and small businesses. Addressable fire alarm systems are designed for larger applications thus ideal for large buildings and institutions.
Fire alarm systems also need to be installed at equal intervals therefore accurate measurements should be made. Avoid installing fire detectors in locations that they may cause false alarms like bathroom because of the hot steam when showering.
Fire alarm systems that depend on heat detectors may be inefficient in areas with high temperatures since they may trigger false alarms in case of temperature fluctuations.
Codes and regulations
Every area legislation sets standards and requirements that should be met. Fire alarm systems need to meet the specific set standards.
Importance of fire alarm systems
Fire Alarm systems warn people immediately a fire is detected. This early signals enables building occupants to evacuate safely and enable one to make quick response to curb the fire thus reducing damage. A monitored fire alarm systems notifies the relevant authorities i.e. the fire department.
Quick response time
With early detection of fire guarantees quick response time thus saving lives and reducing damage on property in case of a fire incident. For monitored fire alarm systems the relevant authorities are contacted immediately.
Avoid inhaling smoke
When people are warned early of a fire incident, they are able evacuate the building and avoid smoke inhalation which is a leading cause of death in fire related incidences.
Fire alarm systems maybe costly to install and maintain but bring about many benefits. For example, when a fire incident occurs and the relevant departments are contacted in time, the damage on the property is reduced.
Fire alarms keep you code-compliant
In commercial buildings, the legislation around sets a code that it expects every building, business or company to keep to ensure safety of the occupants. One of this codes is for fire safety and fire alarms are one way to keep yourself code compliant.
Fire alarms may qualify you for insurance discounts
Insurance companies give discounts and good rates to commercial buildings that have fire alarm systems.