How Do Fire Alarm Panels Work

May 13, 2019

Fire Alarm Panels

A fire alarm panel is the control center for a fire alarm system. The panel acts as the central processing unit, receiving signals from the smoke and heat detectors associated with the system and sending out signals to the fire alarms, sprinkler heads, and local authorities.
For example, if the panel receives a signal that smoke has been detected, it may trigger an alarm to sound in the building. Or, perhaps it activates a sprinkler head in the same area as the smoke detector. The fire alarm panel is programmed to respond based on the types of signals it receives.
The most common fire panels in use today are Conventional Fire Panels and Addressable Fire Panels.

Conventional Fire Panels

A Conventional Fire Panel is most often used in smaller facilities and is not as expensive. Generally, it is used as an early-warning system for the occupants in the building, merely sounding an alarm to notify people there is an issue. It can’t be programmed to respond in more complex ways. The reason for this is that the Conventional Fire Panel cannot communicate with each component on the system. The best you can do with a Convention Fire Panel is wire a building into zones, so owners have a general idea of from where a signal is coming. For example, the first floor of a building could be Zone 1 and the second floor of a building could be Zone 2.

Addressable Fire Panels

Addressable Fire Panels, on the other hand, give every smoke detector or sprinkler head its own unique, identifiable address. When a smoke detector goes off, the main control panel knows precisely which one it is and where it is located within the building. The specificity comes in enormously handy when you are protecting a large area, such as a hockey stadium, which might have 10,000 to 20,000 points throughout the facility. It also allows more specific responses to be programmed in response to a signal.
Addressable Fire Panels also can be networked together. For example, let’s say you have a school district that has three or four schools. All the schools would have a panel, but all the panels in the schools also could be networked to another main panel the Superintendent’s office so that he could keep watch on the entire district. He could see in which building and from where inside the building an alarm is coming. 

What Type of Fire Protection Do I Need?

Deciding on the right type of fire protection system for your facility and budget can be challenging. It requires a unique skill set to understand, design, install and maintain these specialized systems.
At FSS, we can work with you, your architects, engineers, and the Authority Having Jurisdiction to make sure your system meets all codes and your company’s specific needs.
Speak with a fire system expert

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