Fire Detection and Alarm Systems: A Brief Guide (part 2)

Where to Start When Choosing a System

You should choose the type of fire detection and alarm system which is suitable for your fire safety objectives that flow from a risk assessment of your operation and facility. Your risk tolerance and your afford to lose is the important parts of this process.

The issues when considering the type of fire detection and alarm system for a hospital are not the same as they are for a warehouse. In a facility where human life safety is the main concern, like the hospitals where the patients mostly aren’t able to evacuate themselves, an early warning is necessary. Other facilities like hotels, dormitories where the occupants may be sleeping when a fire occurs also require an alarm system which provides more rapid notification.

Meanwhile, in a warehouse where the occupants are almost awake and aware and there are often fewer of them, the alarm system may not need to provide notice as early. In other facilities where life safety isn’t a major issue, the fire detection and alarm system can be slower.

When selecting a fire detection and alarm system, you also must consider the commitment which will be required over the system’s life. Requirements for these systems such as testing, inspection, and maintenance are extensive. Meeting these requirements over the system’s life will usually cost more than the original installation.

Initiating devices are the elements which originate the signal. This group of components also includes detectors, manual pull stations, and supervisory devices.

A manual pull station (Figure 1) may be just a switch which activates the alarm system when being operated by a building occupant. A manual pull station should be placed where it is easy for the building occupants to find. They are mostly located along travel routes which would be used while exiting the building.