What are Addressable Fire Alarm Systems?
February 16th, 2015
An addressable fire alarm system is made up of a series of fire detectors and devices that are connected back to a central control panel.
With addressable systems, each device has an address or location, enabling the exact detector that was triggered to be quickly identified. This makes addressable alarm systems ideal for large buildings, particularly commercial premises spread over a wide area.
Advantages of addressable fire alarms
- Quickly determine the location of a fire.
- Specific actions can be programmed by the user.
- Reduced likelihood and better handling of false alarms.
- More reliability, less likely to lose connection.
- Lower overall cost of wiring.
- Ability to monitor integrity of the system, with detector health checks.
Fire alarm systems that can be programmed
One of the biggest advantages of addressable fire alarm systems is that they can be configured so that a specific action triggers a specific response.
For example, cause and effect programming can be used to say that a particular ‘cause’ such as activation of a fire detector, has the effect of alarms sounding in a specified area and the system being put on alert mode in another. This means that phased evacuation can take place, with priority areas evacuated first. Each area of a building can then be evacuated one at a time, which allows safer fire evacuation procedures in large buildings.
Reduce false fire alarms
False alarms cause disruption and can be costly, so it’s in any business’s interests to minimise their impact and reduce the likeliness of them occurring in the first place.
One of the advantages of addressable fire alarms is that they can allow air to be monitored through the detectors, so if air is contaminated for example with dust (which can activate some fire alarm systems) then a ‘pre-fire’ warning is triggered. This allows investigation to take place, so any issues can be rectified before a full scale false activation of the system takes place.
Addressable fire alarms are more reliable than conventional
Due to the way that addressable alarm systems are connected, any breaks in the circuit caused by damage are less likely to result in devices being disconnected. Unlike conventional systems, all devices are wired up on a loop and are connected to the panel unit at both ends. Therefore if connection breaks at one end, devices will still be connected.
Cost of wiring up alarm system is cheaper
Addressable fire alarms are wired on a loop, which is basically a circuit that connects the system to other devices such as sprinkler systems, call points and detectors. With conventional fire systems each zone and sounder circuit has its own wire, so the cost of wiring can potentially be higher, depending on how many devices need connecting up.
Monitoring and checking all individual fire detectors for faults
Fire alarms are arguably one of the most critical aspects of fire safety on your premises. Another benefit of addressable fire alarm systems is that all devices can be individually monitored and checked for faults, which makes maintenance easier. If an issue is found with a particular detector for example, then a notification will be received by the central control panel.
Having an addressable system therefore means that any problems can be discovered immediately so that they can be rectified, ensuring that everything is in good working order should an incident occur.
Do you need an addressable fire alarm?
This will depend on the requirements of your premises. Usually addressable fire alarms are more suited to larger commercial premises, as they provide accurate and detailed information as to the location of a fire, which isn’t necessary in smaller buildings.
These systems provide sophisticated fire protection, so therefore they do tend to be more expensive than conventional alarms overall. However if having a reliable method of alerting you to danger, that cuts down false alarms and allows for smooth evacuation is critical to your business, then it’s a worthwhile investment.
Of course, the type of fire alarm system installed is important to get right and we’d strongly advise talking to a fire protection expert before making a decision.