fire alarm system

How to Choose the Right Fire Alarm Panel for Your Safety System?

Fire alarms are one of the safety measures that every tangible business setting must take. They detect early signs of fire and help save millions in human and monetary capitals.

Nearly 70% of businesses succumb to hefty losses after a fire accident. But fret not! By choosing the correct equipment for your fire alarm system, you can significantly lower the hazard of losing valuable belongings.

An integral component of a fire alarm system is the control panel. This blog is your guide to understand the complexities of control panels so that you can choose the most suitable one for your facility. 

What is a Fire Alarm Panel?

Large buildings and business premises have multiple zones. Each zone consists of various smoke sensors and sounders.  The sensors from around the structure along with buzzers are centrally connected in the fire control panel. The panel monitors the devices, supplies them power and sends signals back and forth in case of a fire hazard. It is also responsible for the activation and deactivation of individual devices and offers manual controls where applicable. 

To better realize the vitality of a control panel, let’s break down the series of events that take place after a fire breaks out. In case of a smoke outflux, the smoke detector triggers a signal that stimulates the control panel. The panel prompts sounders and visual buzzers to alert the occupants of the building. In some cases, it also specifies the zone that is at the risk of fire.

British Standards for a Fire Alarm Panel

According to the Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLC) UK, section BS5839 outlines all the mandatory standards for a fire alarm system. One of its sub-sections highlights the guidelines for a fire alarm panel. Some of these include:

  • The panel should be under supervision day in and out
  • Visual and audio warnings must be deployed in case of a malfunction in the system or a fire breakout
  • Only manual instruction should silence an alarm 
  • Silencing one alarm should not disconnect sirens in other zones
  • The visual signaling devices should have an audible feature to indicate their failure
  • The panel should be present on the ground floor of the building 
  • The panel should be readily accessible for ancillary staff 
  • The control unit should also have a zone map 

Types of Fire Alarm Panels

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the UK has extensive guidelines on safety requirements for firms. Typically all business structures are required to have fire alarm control panels. The market has to offer a bunch of differently functional alarm panels, ranging from basic ones that only raise warnings by sirens or advanced ones with the feature of alerting the local fire department as well. 

The BS5839 guidelines advise dividing a building into zones. Each zone has one sound and numerous smoke detectors. Different fire alarm panels have different zone capacities. Hence, depending on the type of building and its requirements,  either of the following control panels may be appropriate for your fire alarm system:

Conventional Fire Alarm Panel 

Although scarcely used nowadays, conventional control panels are still installed in old buildings. It is the most basic and cost-efficient option in the market. Smoke sensors and call devices are wired in series circuits. The circuit ends at the control panel. In another set of wiring, all the buzzers and flashers for audible and visible warnings are also connected in series. 

Conventional fire alarm panels do not require constant monitoring. One downside of using these panels is the unspecified detection of smoke. They only indicate the zone and do not which device particularly triggered the warning. This is problematic because one zone may have up to 32 detectors: Not knowing which detector prompted the alert may delay the rescue operation or cause massive property damage. 

A bit more advanced version of conventional fire alarm panels is 2 wire panels. To avoid the hassle of double wiring, 2 wire panels have sensors, sounders and call units aligned on a single wire. However, like conventional panels, the location of smoke remains unspecified during fire breakouts.

Addressable Fire Alarm Panel 

An addressable fire alarm panel has a single wire that connects all the sensory devices with the control unit in a loop. The panel has a microprocessor and operates digitally. It sends off perpetual signals to and from the detector following a communication protocol. 

Since each device is individually connected to the panel, narrowing the area at risk is much easier. Along with the zone number, the system also provides a textual specification (Floor 2, Room 7) of the source of smoke. They also make problem detection and troubleshooting in individual devices much 

simpler. Due to their efficacy, these panels are also sometimes called intelligent control panels.

Closing Up!

Our utmost priority is to deepen the understanding of our customers regarding the safety and security solutions they are relying on. Elaborating the intricacies of fire alarm panels was one such effort.

We know, however, that there are certain questions (like the number of zones in your building, number of alarms per zone, maximum sensors per zone, single or double-stage alarms and so on) that can only be answered by a professional upon visiting your facility. So, invite them today by phoning at 02035040538 and let DOTCOM SOLUTION help you in making your property secure and safer!


What is the Average Lifespan of a Fire Alarm Panel?

A typical fire alarm panel should last around 15-20 years, given proper maintenance and integration with other security systems.

Does a Fire Panel Need to Be Visible? 

All equipment, especially indicators, should be installed at a suitable site to allow firefighters to control and operate effectively. The readings must also be visible. 

What is the standard height for fire panels?

They are typically installed between 42-48 metres from the finished floor. The spot should be accessible from all angles. (Heights may differ in various localities).

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