In the united states of America, in the year of 2017 there was an estimate of $10.7 bn damage in property happened as a consequence of fire, a property loss average of $21,463.
(Source: Losses in the United States During 2017 report by NFPA).
Couldn’t we avoid all these problems?
The answer is yes and a lot of property damages would be avoided and many lives would be saved if we installed suitable fire alarm systems (that are well designed) and if people were aware of the importance of such alarm systems and they had a good understanding of implementation of fire detection systems.
For that reason fire detection systems are to be considered one of the most crucial inventions that were invented by human beings.
Fire detection systems installation:
Once you are aware of the importance of the fire detection systems, then the next step is to determine: what type you are going to implement?
There are two main types of detection systems that are applied globally:
1- Conventional fire alarm system
2- Addressable fire alarm system.
Both systems have pros and cons; nevertheless the main difference between them is that in the addressable fire system each individual detector or a manual call point has a unique address. This unique address allows the alarm control panel to identify the detector itself in case of real fire. Also in the main control panel you can label the detector and give its address a name with the suitable label you want (ex: building 4, floor 10, room 2).
The specific address label which is given to each fire detector will make fire brigades reach the place faster and deal with the fire and minimize any damages that might occur.
In the contrary the conventional fire alarm system doesn’t give you an address for each individual detector; instead it gives you a whole zone address which could contain 20 detectors.
The conventional fire zone will give the same address to all of the detectors in the zone. A short come of the conventional systems is it can’t identify the exact alarm detector in case of real fire and the fire brigades will spend much effort to reach the exact place of the detector that triggered the alarm.
A good advantage of the conventional alarm systems is that they are cheaper than the addressable one. So if your application is a small size application (about 4 areas), you may choose to apply the conventional method as it is cheaper and you don’t need to address each individual point of the system.
Fire detection system design phase:
Provided that you finish choosing the suitable alarm system, now you are going to design it. The design of a fire detection system is to follow the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) in your country which is described in a national code. The country national code is the basic reference for the fire alarm designer in the design phase.
The national code states the recommended distance between the detectors, placing of heat and smoke detectors, the recommended testing and inspection steps.. etc.).
The well known national codes are:
The European code EN 54 , the American fire code NFPA 72 and the British fire code BS 5839
You should also consider the choice of detection type relevant to the application. For instance you shouldn’t use smoke detection method in the kitchen appliance as there will be a lot of smoke generation. Hence the suitable detection method is the heat detection with ac certain threshold value.
Fire alarm testing and maintenance:
After the design and installation of a suitable system, you should perform periodic testing for your system. The testing is done to every component of the system including the main control panel.Testing is performed using special testing devices that are able to generate smoke or heat according to your applied system. The testing is performed by trained personnel with predetermined testing procedure. The testing result should be recorded in a result sheet and to be filed for historical data analysis.
Finally fire alarm systems’ basics should be taught to each person in schools and educational entities as they are very valuable and property and live savers.