Fire Detection and Alarm

A fire alarm system is basically a network of initiating devices, and notification devices connected to a Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) which is used to alert people of an emergency in a building. Some modern fire alarm systems are remotely monitored by fire alarm monitoring companies who will decipher messages sent from the fire alarm system and decide whether to send the Fire Department, notify building owners / service companies of system troubles.

What is an FACP

A Fire Alarm Control Panel is the brains of the fire alarm system. All of the parts on a fire alarm system communicate with the FACP, which in turn decides what to do. Modern FACPs include keypads, LCD screens, and communication ports that make the system easier to work with.

An FACP is generally inside a locked red box located somewhere safe, such as an electrical room, office, or maintenance area. In some cases where there are no available rooms to install the FACP, the FACP might be located somewhere outside the building in a weather proof plastic enclosure.

What is an Initiating Device

An initiating device is a sensor which detects things that are commonly a sign of fires and other hazards, or a switch that makes it possible for building occupants to set off the fire alarm manually when there’s an emergency none of the sensors can detect.

Common initiating device sensors include smoke detectors, heat detectors, and water flow detectors on fire sprinklers. Manual initiating devices pretty much consist of various styles of pull stations.

What is a Notification Device

A notification device, or notification appliance, is a device that tells everyone in the building the fire alarm is going off. Common notification appliances include horns / speakers (sounders), strobe lights, and various combinations of the three.

Unfortunately some people are hearing impaired and other people are vision impaired. Some buildings have areas with a lot of ambient noise that makes it impossible to hear sounders. Some areas in buildings such as public restrooms amplify sound to harmful levels. Some areas such as hospital operating rooms have activities going on in them which could lead to disaster if a sudden loud annoying noise were to be made. Therefore we have notification appliances that can be seen and heard in a building.

In advanced fire alarm systems there may be what’s referred to as an EVAC system. An EVAC system is basically an intercom that will play a prerecorded evacuation plan over the loudspeakers when the fire alarm goes off, and make it possible for management to pick up a microphone and communicate with everyone in the building at once.

Your fire-detection system can also:

  • Discharge clean agent fire-suppression systems in computer rooms or clean rooms.
  • Activate deluge fire systems in aircraft hangers or similarly dangerous areas.
  • Open a dry pipe sprinkler system for a pre-action suppression system.