Have you ever been in a hall or room and there was a fire alarm above you? If you watch movies there is a good chance you’ve seen a situation where the main character or a target is in a building, and there was a fire outbreak? If they survived the fire, how did they? Maybe you remember someone hitting something on the wall or an emergency alarm just went off, yes, that’s it! The fire alarm.
Fire alarm systems can detect smoke, fire, carbon monoxide and other emergencies present. In any of these cases, the alarm goes off to alert everyone of the danger so people can get out quickly and stay away from harm.
How would it have been, if there is a large number of people in a very big building, and maybe someone far away from others notices smoke, or fire that could turn into something big and become disastrous. Usually, a person needs to alert others to the danger and warn them to stay away from the building. Imagine there is no fire alarm in that building and a person has to shout loudly and warn hundreds of people quickly to keep them safe. How do you think they would do that? Looks like the whole scenario is going to turn into a disastrous one.
Fire Alarm systems were invented to stop people from consciously monitoring for smoke or fires, so people could go about doing whatever it is they set out to do . This way, everyone can relax knowing that smoke is detected somewhere or a fire suddenly starts, the fire alarm would warn everyone inside the building.
Fire alarm systems can be automatic or manual, and they are mandatory in offices, shopping centres, public areas, markets, etc. Its principal purpose in these places is to help identify the impending dangers of fire outbreak and quickly evacuate people to safety. As it is essential to have a Fire Alarm in a building, it also needs to be in good working order. What would be the point of having a fire alarm in a building that does not work, or is none compliant, if a fire starts? It is going to be useless.
Fire alarms can be of different types, and they include:
Manual or Automatic. If it is manual, then it means someone has to notice any smoke or fire first and make an extra effort to locate a manually operated call point and then sound the alarm.
Automatic means the Fire Alarm system will automatically detect smoke, heat or fire.
Emergency Voice Alarm Communication System, usually are accompanied by a fire alarm, these play a pre-recorded message throughout the building warning people to exit in an orderly fashion.
The fire alarm works in three stages:
Detection: A Smoke or Heat detector within the building will automatically send a signal to the fire panel or a manually operated call point can be pressed.
Signal initiation: This is when the correct signal from any device is received at the Fire Panel. The Fire Panel will then initiate a pre-programmed response.
Occupant notification: During the pre-programmed response Sounders/Strobes and Interfaces all work together. Audible and visual devices will warn the buildings occupants and Interfaces will open doors to aid exit, shut down plant such as gas, air conditioning units and in some cases initiate an extraction unit to remove all smoke from the building.
Types of Smoke Detector
IONIZATION SMOKE DETECTOR
PHOTOELECTRIC SMOKE DETECTOR
MULTI SENSOR, A COMBINATION OF BOTH HEAT AND SMOKE
RATE OF RISING HEAT DETECTOR
MANUAL CALL POINT
Although there are fire alarms around, it is still better to take precautions, not be careless or take anything for granted, always adhere to the evacuation plan and never take the risk. If you see it, let others know immediately, get out and stay out.
If you are responsible for the building, then ensure you have a suitable and well maintained Fire System in place as this could save your life.