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Different Types of Fire Alarm Systems – A Detailed Guide

Different Types of Fire Alarm Systems – A Detailed Guide

A fire alarm system is crucial when it comes to protecting life and property alike along with being a legal need under the order passed in 2005 under the popular Fire Safety Regulatory Reform. Building occupiers, building owners and employers by law should carry out as well as keep updated the fire safety risk assessments. Resting on this assessment’s findings, one needs to make sure that appropriate and adequate fire safety measures which also includes fire alarms and detectors are in place for minimizing the danger of loss of life or injury during a fire outbreak.

A Close Look at the Different Types of Fire Alarm Systems

With the full range of fire safety systems available in the market these days people will be spoilt for choice and also get confused which to invest in and which will prove beneficial for them. Take a look at some of the most widely used fire alarm systems and its different benefits,

  • Conventional– Fire alarm systems that are four-wire or conventional is being mainly used especially in smaller properties like restaurants and shops. Being quite affordable to buy compared to other alarm systems, it works via categorizing the building into different detection zones and with the call points and detectors in each sector hardwired to a control panel on dedicated circuits. A single zone may have multiple detectors. Each bell or alarm sounder will require a fire-protected two-core cable as they wire it to wired to various loops. When the sensor is activated, its control panel will help in identifying the circuit which comprises the triggered device thereby indicating the original point of the fire alarm.
  • Two-wire-Designed for a small operation, a fire alarm system that has a two-wire run on the common conventional system technology. In such two-wire systems, the alarm devices, call points and detectors for every zone is wired on one set comprising of 2-core zone cables behind the control panel which helps it in using a single circuit on every zone for detection as well as power the sirens or sounders. This variety of fire alarm system although is expensive compared to the four-wire system but is affordable to install, is more flexible and also quicker. Such two-wire systems will offer higher flexibility in operation along with having additional functionality including detector recognition, isolation and fault conditions.
  • Analogue-addressable-This fire alarm system will provide details on the individual detectors while the conventional method will only offer information about a specific zone or circuit. An intelligent or addressable fire alarm system comes with distinctive designs for large commercial premises, and complex networked systems as these are pricey and complicated compared to four or two-wire systems, possessing increased flexibility, the speed of identification, the scope of control and intelligence. In such systems, various forms of initiating tools are wired into a single loop surrounding the premises, needing less cabling compared to conventional methods and with every call point or a detector having its respective unique address. This fire control system will receive status reports and information from every tool and signify its precise location should there be a fire, smoke, heat, contamination or fault.
  • Wireless-Though little pricey to purchase, it is flexible, pocket-friendly and quicker to install. Be it battery-powered or wireless; such alarm systems will offer the exact protection as that provided by a conventional wired system. It is ideal when a wired installation is not applicable like an in-grade listed property that prohibits wiring. No cables are present amid the control panel and the detection devices which mean no requirement for any long-term wires. A wireless fire alarm system should comply with the EN54-25 standard. The wireless networks of the current generation are increasingly sophisticated and more reliable compared to the fire alarm systems which dates back to the 1980s as well as possess multi-frequency links for eliminating collision and signal blocking thereby allowing the signal strength of high margin to sustain.
  • Aspirating Smoke Detection System-This fire alarm system is highly sensitive which can detect smoldering or small fires quicker compared to other systems. The aspirating system utilizes a fan for drawing in air from across the building through a series of sampling holes and sampling pipes. Then the air is passed through a sensitive precision detector which will analyze it as well as generate warning symptoms of prospective fire as it detects the particles of smoke. Pricey to install and also maintain, it is susceptible and detects cool smoke which does not go up to the ceiling and smoldering particles and fires given off via overloaded electrical cables. Therefore, they are useful when early warnings are needed.

Testing and Maintenance of a Fire Alarm System

When a fire alarm system functions properly, it will help to save lives. The fire safety systems inspection, routine maintenance, and testing will help one in keeping in compliance with the local/state fire inspectors and also their insurance carrier. At the time of inspection, it is wise to check the following,

  • Install fresh batteries
  • Look for signs either of disabling or tampering
  • Remove any obstruction which may affect the performance
  • Make sure the alarm is audible

The maintenance and testing regulations of a fire alarm system differ from state to state. It is best to check with a local government for current testing needs.

Fire and smoke detection devices play a pivotal role when it comes to the safety of any building for that matter. When functioning correctly, it will help to alert the occupants present in a structure regarding the fire before the same getting spread providing sufficient time to evacuate. Such equipment is available in different forms as mentioned above so if one is still not sure which style to pick it is good to consult a professional in this regard as they can assess one’s building for determining their needs. No matter the type of fire alarm system one picks, he needs to get it installed through a professional and sincerely follow every instruction both for testing and maintenance. Installing the best system will help to reduce injuries, property damage and loss of life.


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