At Fire Systems Australia we use only the best panels whilst making it as cost effective as possible. Our philosophy is that we would rather provide products at lower costs and win you as a customer for life. Our staff are qualified to not only install panels but to also test them and maintain them. Panels under the current legislation (AS1851:2005) must be tested every month with stricter testing every 6 months, 12 months and 5 years.
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Fire Alarm Systems – Overview
Rarely in the movies do you ever see a Fire Indicator Panel (FIP), more often than not you will see an American style ‘pull station’ – the equivalent of a Manual Call Point or Break Glass Alarm found in Australia.
A Fire Indicator Panel (FIP) is probably best described as the ‘brains’ of a fire detection and alarm system. A fire indicator panel comprises control and indicating equipment (CIE) that combined together form an integrated system.
On very simple terms, a collective fire alarm system is one that comprises one or more circuits, with detectors connected in parallel. An alarm signal is received at the fire panel when the current on a circuit increases due to the alarm operation of one of the detectors on that circuit. In modern detectors there is may also be fitted an alarm status indication, often a light emitting diode or LED.
One of the limitations of a collective systems is that the control panel is unable to identify the status of each detector of the circuit. Another way to describe this is that the control panel is only able to display the alarm or fault status of a circuit, not each detector on the circuit.
The alternative is an addressable fire alarm system that comprises one or more circuits with detectors connected in parallel, andeach detector has a unique identification (address) on the circuit. When the conditions for an alarm signal are satisfied at the detector, an alarm signal is transmitted via the circuit to the fire indicator panel.
In an addressable system, each detector has the ability to identify itself and its current status. Over the years, the level of sophistication of detectors and systems has greatly increased. This includes collecting more information about the conditions surrounding each detector including the many bi-products of combustion and other environmental factors.
There are many advantages of addressable systems including the ability to more effectively handle contamination over time that leads to nuisance (false) alarms, improved detection of fires and the ability to identify the precise location of a detector and its current condition or state.
There exists variations to these basic types including fire panels that include both collective and addressable features. Generally these systems are addressable systems with additional CIE to provide collective functionality.
Standards for design
In Australia there are principally three standards that have been developed over the years that define the integrity, operation, engineering design and construction methods for fire alarm systems. These Australian Standards are;
AS1603.4 – Automatic fire detection and alarm systems – Control and indicating equipment AS4428.1 – Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems – Control and indicating equipment AS7240 – Fire Detection and Alarm Systems (Parts 2 and 4)
Emergency Warning Systems
For many of us, the first time we learn about an emergency, is when we hear the telltale signs of an emergency warning system in operation.
A emergency warning system is a life safety system installed to safeguard occupants from illness or injury by warning them of a fire or emergency and to safeguard occupants during the orderly evacuation of a building in an emergency.
They assist in these two functions by:
- providing mass notification of an emergency
- providing a method to communicate with and direct building occupants in the event of an emergency
The term emergency warning systems is used in this article as a generic term used to describe a three types of systems described in the Building Code of Australia (BCA) as follows:
- Occupant Warning System (OWS)
- Sound and Intercom Systems (for Emergency Purposes)
- Emergency Warning & Intercommunication System (EWIS)
Emergency warning systems alert occupants in an emergency by broadcasting a warning message or tones over a network of monitored loud speakers. Speakers are distributed throughout a building to ensure:
- Warning messages and tones satisfy a specific sound pressure level (volume) and are distinctly audible throughout all required areas of the building
- Warning messages intelligible (clearly understood) by the occupants