The control panels are the brains of the fire detection and alarm system, performing a number of critical functions, such as monitoring of all detection devices, controlling sounders and signalling and providing power and battery backup to system
Today there are two basic types of fire alarm control panels:
With a conventional fire alarm system, each zone must be wired using a separate circuit, to enable the source of a fire alarm to be identified. Furthermore, in the event of a fire alarm being triggered, the panel can only identify which zone contains the triggered device, it is then necessary to manually search the affected zone to discover the actual cause of the alarm.
An analogue addressable system overcomes these limitations. Each fire detecting sensor or call point is electronically coded with a unique 'address'.
The control panel is then able to conduct two way communication with any of the addressable devices connected to the system by using the unique address number to define which device it wishes to communicate with. The panel can ascertain whether each device is functioning correctly and also discover the amount of smoke or heat that the device is currently sensing.
This technology allows the panel to make 'intelligent' decisions as to the appropriate action to take based on the information it receives from the individual sensors.
This has many advantages, for example very slow build up of apparant smoke density seen by a sensor can cause a warning or pre alarm condition to be triggered by the alarm panel prior to the situation becoming serious enough to warrant a full alarm.
In addition to fire alarm control panels, there are also air-sampling systems. These systems constantly sample the air in the environment looking for smoke particles. Due to the sensitivity of these systems, fires can be detected at a very early stage. Detection systems will inform of a fire starting. Technology has moved on to systems that are able to prevent fires from starting in the first place. Called OxyReduct, these oxygen reducing systems are ideal for computer rooms, archive storage facilities or data storage areas. Safe for humans, where they have been installed, companies can say with confidence that a fire in that area is no longer possible.
In fire safety legislation there is nothing to dictate the type of panel that is required. This important decision should be made purely on best practice. Your fire safety adviser will advise on all aspects of setting up and maintaining an effective fire prevention programme. Qualified engineers and technicians will offer a package of services to ensure the safety of your business and staff.
Considerations for an effective fire prevention programme include:
Results of a Fire Risk Assessment
Design and fitting of emergency lighting to aid escape
Checking and expanding existing detection systems
Installation and maintenance to current British standards
Providing staff training in fire prevention methods
Ensuring adequate storage of fire reports and logs