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How Fire Alarm Systems Work?

Published on January 28th, 2021

For commercial buildings, fire alarms can be broken down into two kinds of systems: conventional and addressable. Conventional systems will sound the alarms when they sense a fire, but can only provide a limited amount of information. Addressable fire alarms can provide greater fire protection by offering precise data about the location and intensity of the fire.

How Does a Conventional Fire Alarm System Work?

Conventional fire detection systems relay information via analog electrical currents. Most rely primarily on smoke detectors, heat detectors, manual pull stations to detect a fire. These initiating devices are divided into different zones based on their location in the building. Doing so helps first responders locate the source of the alarm during an emergency.

When an initiating device activates, it sends an electric signal to the main control panel. When the control panel receives one of these signals, it springs into action. Most will trigger notification appliances to sound audible alarms and contact the fire department. Some also trigger fire suppression systems such as fire sprinkler systems or door locks to contain the fire.

Conventional fire alarm systems can’t identify which specific initiating device triggered the alarm. The control panel will see which zone sounded the alarm, but these zones often include large areas of a building. Because of this limitation, conventional fire alarm systems have largely been replaced by addressable systems. However, the low cost of conventional systems makes them a viable option for a variety of building owners.

How Does an Addressable Fire Alarm System Work?

Addressable fire alarms communicate with their control panel via digital signals. Rather than sending a simple electric signal, they often communicate wirelessly. Many use radio frequencies to send additional information that can make a world of difference when fire strikes. With an addressable fire alarm system, the control panel knows the exact location of each initiating device.

Addressable fire alarms can also relay information about the density of smoke, the intensity of heat, and more. This information can help inform escape routes and alert the fire department as to the degree of danger. With fire safety, every second counts, and the more information available, the easier it is to keep damage to a minimum.

The precision of addressable fire alarm systems has led to their widespread adoption in large buildings. They’ve also become increasingly popular in smaller buildings as prices have become more and more reasonable.

If you need to install or update the fire alarm system in your building, SMG Security can help. We’ve installed countless commercial alarm systems in Chicago and the surrounding areas. From fire alarms to security systems, residential to commercial, we’ve dedicated our lives to keeping families and businesses safe. Give us a call today at 847-593-0999 for a free estimate.

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