Electrical Contracting News (ECN) April 2017 - Page 42

SPECIAL FEATURE

SPECIAL FEATURE

FIRE DETECTION & SAFETY
Unwanted fire signals can be defined in a number of ways :
• Unwanted alarms : Where the system has responded as designed to a fire like phenomenon , such as steam from a shower , but there is in fact no real fire .
• Equipment false alarm : If the alarm results from a fault in the system , for example , an electronic fault in the system , debris in the detector head or following tampering .
• Malicious false alarm : Deliberate activation .
• False alarm with good intent : When an individual activates an alarm believing there is a fire when no fire exists .
• Unknown : Where the cause cannot be identified , requiring intelligent investigation to establish the cause .
basic , facilities teams must ensure that all staff tasked with using the fire controls ( such as those who might be responsible for weekly sounder tests ) are trained to do so . A mis-chosen fire extinguisher or ill-advised escape route could mean the difference between life and death . Also , if the system is linked to an alarm receiving centre ( ARC ), and is scheduled for testing , facilities managers should inform the ARC before and after the event .
On the lookout
With an appropriate fire detection and alarm system installed , there must be a
programme of preventative maintenance in place . Site managers should ensure that their fire detection and alarm system is maintained by a competent servicing organisation .
The number of maintenance visits required is determined by the fire risk assessment and should take into account the level of risk ( to life , property and construction continuity ), complexity and size of the system .
However , buildings should ideally be visited for a maintenance check four times per annum . Twice per annum would be considered the absolute minimum and , at each visit , the false alarm record should be checked . This will allow the servicing engineer to work with the facilities team to identify and any persistent causes of false alarms .
All buildings must be protected by a well designed , properly installed and regularly maintained fire detection and alarm system . Throughout this process , reducing false and unwanted alarms has to be high on the agenda as not only will this help to ensure the highest levels of safety , but it will help to reduce the amount of resources facilities teams have to dedicate in order to manage the time consuming and potentially costly repercussions .
What next ?
With the right smart technology in place , the fire detection industry will be able to increasingly drive down false fire
alarms , reducing the risk to customers and communities . It ’ s still a challenging problem , but the tools are out there to bring it under control . Contractors should ensure that they are ahead of the curve and able to provide installation services for this new generation of fire suppression technology – those that do not risk finding themselves being left behind by the competition .
Any building installed with a fire detection system must ensure the reduction of false or unwanted alarms is prioritised .