How Addressable Fire Systems Save Lives

As building design evolves to accommodate present-day conditions, addressable security and fire and life-safety systems are more important than ever. Fire and life-safety systems are becoming more flexible, efficient and responsive, giving campuses cost-efficient, integrated options.

Diverse Environment Challenges

Today’s dynamic, multi-use buildings present fire and life-safety system design challenges. A large open conference, for example, may be unoccupied for days and then be transformed for an event with hundreds of people, computer equipment, projectors, musical amplifiers, catering appliances or other heat-generating sources.

Modern smoke detectors are designed to maintain protection in variable environments. Smoke detection systems connect various components to determine whether the safety of a physical space is being compromised. A system may include addressable, non-addressable and/or battery-operated smoke detectors to meet the requirements of the different areas of a facility.

Because of the diverse environments, fire safety considerations for each area must be planned individually. The challenge is to build these individual systems in such a way that they can communicate to one central fire and life-safety system for overall protection.

Restaurants, retail areas, ballrooms or theaters often occupy the lower floors of multi-use buildings. The fire and life-safety approach for these areas may be quite different from the approach used in residential areas. Typically, the floor-to-ceiling height is taller, and individual compartments are larger on the lower floors of the building.

Airflow patterns play a major role in the effectiveness of detection devices, and an HVAC monitoring system may be a good option for smoke control. The lower floors may have interconnected levels creating scenarios where smoke must be prevented from traveling to an adjacent level through the floor opening. Some of the lower floors may also use a pressurization approach to limit smoke dispersion.

Using a beam smoke detector on the addressable panel loop offers another option for detection. A beam detector can monitor a large, irregular open space, such as a lobby atrium, by using an optical sight to provide an early warning signal. Beam detectors have advanced algorithms to select optimum sensitivity for a specific environment. Remote test stations can facilitate maintenance and NFPA 72 test requirements.

There is no “one-size-fits all” approach to protecting a multiuse building. The smoke control concepts must be developed to address the particular life-safety needs for each unique structure. The best-case scenario is a life-safety plan that examines all of the various fire scenarios that could occur in a building’s different areas and recommends actions to address those scenarios.

A diverse environment needs a cohesive plan that delivers data from individual monitoring systems to a single point where a qualified operator can respond instantly. To achieve this, a building manager needs to look at the total property as a suite of different spaces and install a suite of different products to protect it. Essentially, the plan, the personnel, the training, the devices, the panel, the network and the first responders create a unique communication system customized to a particular property’s fire and life-safety needs.

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