Fire Detection and Alarm Systems: A Brief Guide (part 1)

A fire detection system is the security system designed to discover fires at an early stage so that the time is available for the safe evacuation of occupants. It also plays an important role in keeping the emergency response personnel safe. Early fire detection helps to start control efforts while the fire is still small. Therefore, we can reduce the property loss and minimize the downtime for the operation.

Fire detection systems are mainly installed in buildings especially at risk like train stations, airports, universities, business and factory premises, homes for the elderly and hospitals. Detectors should be installed with alarms to provide notice to the building occupants and sometimes transmit the signal to a staffed monitoring station. In some cases, alarms send the signal directly to the fire department, although this isn’t the typical approach.

Although the fire detection and alarm systems have many advantages, they have one major limitation is that doing nothing to control the fire. Suppression systems like the automatic sprinklers can control the fire. They also provide notification to be able to do the role of a heat detection-based system if they are connected to the notification appliances throughout the buildings. However, they cannot operate as fast as a smoke detection system. This is the reason why facilities where rapid notice is necessary still need detection and alarm systems.

The most basic alarm system, which sounds only a local alarm with manual pull stations, does not include detection. It can cause a significant delay because of relying on an occupant to discover the fire. This type of alarm system is not typically used. If you want to be more quickly notified of the fire, you must install the more expensive system. The least expensive, which is also the slowest system to detect a fire, is a heat detector. Meanwhile, the system providing the most rapid indication of fire is the air-aspirating smoke detection system, which are five to ten times as expensive.