How can smart control panels impact fire safety in connected fire detection systems in both commercial, multi-occupancy and residential buildings?
It’s now possible to detect a range of fire-related indicators, which include smoke, heat, flame and carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. While this increased sophistication represents a huge leap forward, the additional complexity means fire safety engineers have lots more to consider when designing or engineering solutions.
Minimising false alarms
Advances in detection technology mean alarms can now only be triggered when smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) are detected together. Previously, alarms would sometimes react to steam, which was problematic in food factories and hotel bathrooms where continual false alarms would place emergency fire services under unnecessary pressure.
Software in addressable fire systems now enable the optical chamber of specific sensors to be deactivated if work is underway in a room where smoke could be generated – smoke that would otherwise trigger a false alarm.
For example, Eaton has introduced a solution that has a five-in-one detector, incorporating optical and thermal elements, including three levels of heat detection. Industrial kitchens that experience fluctuating temperatures when oven doors open for example, will appreciate the choice of three levels of heat detection.
Addressable fire detection
Addressable fire detection means the location of a fire can now be pinpointed, which is essential in larger buildings like hospitals and hotels. Fire crews can immediately access the source of the fire, rather than spend time searching for the problem. An addressable fire alarm system is made up of a series of fire detectors and devices that are connected back to a central control panel.
With addressable systems, each device has an address or location, enabling the exact detector that was triggered to be quickly identified. This makes addressable alarm systems ideal for large buildings, particularly commercial premises spread over a wide area.
One of the biggest advantages of addressable fire alarm systems is that they can be configured so that a specific action triggers a specific response. For example, cause and effect programming can be used to say that a particular ‘cause’ such as activation of a fire detector, has the effect of alarms sounding in a specified area and the system being put on alert mode in another. This means that phased evacuation can take place, with priority areas evacuated first. Each area of a building can then be evacuated one at a time, which allows safer fire evacuation procedures in large buildings.
False alarms cause disruption and can be costly, so it’s in any business’s interests to minimise their impact and reduce the likeliness of them occurring in the first place. One of the advantages of addressable fire alarms is that they can allow air to be monitored through the detectors, so if air is contaminated for example with dust (which can activate some fire alarm systems) then a ‘pre-fire’ warning is triggered. This allows investigation to take place, so any issues can be rectified before a full scale false activation of the system takes place.
To read the full article see our latest issue: December/ January 2022 Single Issue – Fire Buyer International