Any building’s losses from an uninvited fire can be decreased with a fire alarm system that is properly designed, built, operated, and maintained. Property and, more significantly, human life are among these losses. Building and fire codes’ regulations for fire alarm systems are primarily intended to provide building occupants advance notice so they can evacuate and to alert the fire service so it can respond to the incident. The fire alarm system alerts workers in places like hospitals so they can respond to the fire emergency (as opposed to evacuating the building).
Understanding the Operation of a Fire Protection System
It’s critical to comprehend how fire protection systems work. Although diverse systems operate, they all aim to detect fires and safeguard the structure, its residents, and valuables. A sprinkler system and a smoke detector are typical fire safety tools. If a fire starts, smoke activates the sprinkler system by activating the detector. The presence of water prevents the spread of fire. The use of automatic fire suppression systems with clean agents is preferable when dealing with specific essential equipment or unique hazards, even though this method is successful in those situations. These technologies completely extinguish fires after detecting and suppressing them.
Fire Protection System Benefits
The fact that a fire protection system saves money over time is one of its key advantages. Consider a company’s infrastructure, hardware for information technology, and investments in manufacturing. A fire could cost a business millions of dollars if it disrupts operations for a long time. A machine shop that makes parts is a good example. The shop’s business would suffer greatly if a fire forced a closure for several days or weeks. It may be necessary to replace equipment, and important contracts could be lost. When evaluating the cost of a fire prevention system, businesses must take all aspects into account. The automatic deployment of emergency services is another advantage of some fire protection systems. These systems will work to put out the fire right away while also alerting the authorities to send help to your location. Systems that are installed and designed to achieve at least two of the three basic goals are called fire protection systems.
- Defend the building from fire’s destructive consequences.
- Defend the building’s residents against the harm that a fire could do.
- Ensure the continuity of commercial operations
There are two types of fire protection systems: passive and active, which are described below.
Passive Fire Protection Systems
The majority of the time, passive fire protection systems go unseen after a structure is built and are only known to building designers, contractors, and inspectors. Passive fire protection systems do not particularly stand out as a system. They are known as passive fire protection systems for this reason. Construction components and systems with passive fire protection are made to withstand the passage of smoke and/or fire. Typically, its construction is noncombustible. The length of time that passive fire prevention systems can successfully complete specified fire exposure tests is measured in units of time. For instance, a floor with a “2-hour” rating can successfully withstand the usual fire test for two hours. Contrary to popular assumption, this does not necessarily mean that the floor could withstand a genuine fire for two hours; the length of time it could withstand the fire would depend on how severe it was. Passive fire protection involves either protecting openings through fire-rated walls or floors, like a fire door, or protecting solid building components like walls or floors. One kind of fire safety technology is passive fire protection.
Active Fire Protection Systems
Active fire protection systems work to put out, control, or suppress fires in order to prevent them from spreading. There are many different kinds of systems that accomplish this, including but not restricted to dry chemical systems, clean agent systems, automatic fire sprinkler systems, and condensed aerosol systems. Automatic fire sprinkler systems are the most popular kind of active fire protection system. The building and fire codes restrict the applications of “alternative automatic fire-extinguishing systems,” which are systems other than sprinkler systems. These “alternative automatic fire-extinguishing systems” are frequently referred to as “fire suppression systems.”
Basic Fire Alarm System Components
The following elements are typically present in fire alarm systems.
Alarm Initiating Device Circuits
These are the circuits that link initiating devices such water flow alarms, manual pull stations, heat detectors, smoke detectors, and heat detectors. Numerous system monitoring equipment that are crucial to the building’s overall fire safety connect to initiating circuits as well. These gadgets don’t signal a fire or a “alarm,” only a “abnormal” situation.
Alarm Indicating Appliance Circuits
These circuits are connected to appliances that signal alarms audibly and visually to the building’s occupants. These circuits can also be used to connect devices that transmit signals outside the building.
Fire Alarm Control Panel
The electronics that manage and monitor the fire alarm system are located in the fire alarm control panel. In this panel, the starting and indicating circuits are directly connected.
Primary Power Supply
The complete fire alarm system is powered by the principal electrical supply. The local commercial power service is frequently connected to provide primary power for fire alarm systems.
Secondary Power Supply
A secondary power supply is a different power source that can run the complete system and will activate automatically in the event that the primary power source fails.
There are two primary types of initiating devices: those that signal an alert situation or those that signal an aberrant state of a monitored device. Any instrument that reacts to fire-related situations can be used to detect fires. Heat, smoke, flames, and fire gases are the most typical fire byproducts. In addition, a manual pull station can be used to detect a fire and sound an alarm. Additionally, a sprinkler system that activates and sounds an alert does so after detecting heat from the fire (if the sprinklers have fusible links).
Fire detection frequently involves the use of heat detectors. They cost less than smoke detectors and are less prone to false alarms. Heat detectors’ usefulness is nonetheless constrained by the fact that their response times are frequently insufficient. Because heat detectors cannot detect smoke, they react to flames more slowly than smoke detectors can. Typically, heat detectors work best in tiny spaces where fires can spread quickly. In areas where smoke detectors are ineffective owing to environmental factors including mist, naturally occurring smoke, and excessive humidity, heat detectors can be used to detect fires. Heat detectors operate via a variety of different ways.
Smoke detector advantages cannot be overstated. Smoke detectors are useful in some contexts more than others, and their efficacy varies with the type of fire and the capacity of the occupants. Currently, smoke detectors have two main working systems: ionization and photoelectric.
Devices that can detect the light waves created by fires are another way to detect fires. These typically work by sensing infrared (IR) or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These detectors can work very quickly and are normally only utilized in high-risk locations like industrial processing facilities, fuel loading zones, and places where explosions could happen. Systems for suppressing explosions shield them. One issue with IR detectors is that they react to sunlight and can set off undesired alarms. Additionally, because both kinds of flame detectors need to “see” the flame in order to detect it, they often need to be directed in the general direction of where fires are most likely to start.
Gas Sensing and Other Phenomena Detectors
It is uncommon to find gas sensing detectors or “other phenomena” detectors. A fire is indicated by certain gases that special gas detectors pick up on. There are carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide detectors, for instance. As a technique to alert inhabitants to gases created by broken heating equipment, carbon monoxide gas detectors are increasingly commonplace in homes. Basically, any fire detection technique that hasn’t already been stated falls under the “other phenomena” category. Pressure is one instance. A fire can be promptly recognized if it burns in a sealed space.
Manual Fire Alarm Boxes (Pull Stations)
The manual fire alarm boxes, which are very popular initiating devices, are typically referred to as manual pull stations. These are basic machines that need a person to run the mechanism since they are manual. These can be found in the hallways of the building, close to exits, and in other well-chosen places like a nurse’s station or security office. All types of fire alarm systems use the manual fire alarm devices, which offer a way to manually activate the fire alarm system. They might be used in conjunction with automatic initiating devices like heat or smoke detectors, or they could be the sole initiating devices offered. The majority of the time, manual fire stations are situated close to the main exits from a building or from a level of a multistory building, as well as in specific work areas with special fire threats, priceless equipment, or records that could be damaged by fire. Such workspaces include, for instance, paint shops, repair facilities for aircraft, computer rooms, and rooms for telephone equipment.