Designed to quickly detect the presence of fire in buildings of all sizes, a fire alarm system is a requirement in commercial and public buildings. Able to control anywhere from a few to thousands of zones, a fire alarm panel is the main component of any commercial-scale fire alarm system. Providing the brains, a fire alarm panel coordinates the operation of initiating devices such as smoke detectors and notification appliances including sirens and wall-mounted emergency switches. There are 2 primary types of fire alarm control panel, and other control panels are used in bigger systems for advanced communication and/or fire suppression systems.
Fire Alarm Types
Depending on the type of building in need of a fire alarm system, it will either use a conventional or an addressable fire alarm system. Conventional fire alarm systems are useful for replacing outdated systems in smaller buildings as well as new installation in structures with only a few zones. Churches, schools, small offices and apartments all may use conventional systems as any fire that breaks out will pose no problem being located.
Addressable systems, on the other hand, are highly-integrated, technologically-superior alarms used in the largest of buildings. Addressable fire alarms are designed to locate the exact initiating device that detected the fire. In buildings with several thousand smoke detectors, knowing which one sensed the fire is important for firefighters so that particular zone may be isolated.
Fire Alarm Components
Conventional fire alarms are capable of supporting up to 10 zones, each of which is outfitted with at least one initiating device. Buildings with conventional systems may only have a few notification appliances. The most comprehensive addressable systems such as the Simplex Grinnell 4100U can support 2,000 zones and may include emergency fire suppression and an advanced annunciator in the system. Other fire alarm components include batteries, storage cabinets, web-based interfaces for wireless communications and printers for logging events.