What Are Fire Alarm System Zones?

Fire alarm zones are common in Conventional Fire Panels. Each zone represents a different area in the building in order to help firefighters and professionals pinpoint the source of an alarm. However, it can be a bit confusing to research fire alarm zones because they are not as common as they once were. Conventional and Addressable systems handle this communication differently.

Newer and more commonly used Addressable systems rely on points to determine the location of a fire. A point could be any device that initiates an alarm, such as a smoke detector, pull station, or a waterflow switch that activates once heat reaches a sprinkler head.   

Conventional Fire Panels

A Conventional Fire Panel is often used in small facilities and is a cost-effective solution for small businesses. With this type of alarm system, there are multiple devices on a pair of wires, meaning that the devices can only be identified as Zone “X”, not by the individual device. The main downside to a Conventional Fire Panel is that it only identifies an area of the building, rather than pinpointing the exact device and therefore, the exact location of the fire.

For example, the first floor of a building could be Zone 1, and the second floor of a building could be Zone 2, leaving a lot of guesswork as where on the floor the fire is located. This is not a good situation to send first responders into.

In today’s fire alarm market, conventional panels are primarily used for monitoring of water flow and tamper switches for sprinkler systems. At FSS, if you require anything more, our professional opinion would be to use an Addressable Fire Alarm System.

Addressable Fire Panels

Addressable Fire Panels, on the other hand, give every device a uniquely identifiable address. When a fire is detected, the main control panel tells you exactly which device is going off and it’s location, so you know precisely where the fire is. This setup is enormously handy when you are protecting a large area, such as hockey stadium, which could have up to 20,000 points throughout the facility.

Additionally, Addressable Fire Panels can be networked together. For example, let’s say you have a school district with three or four schools. All the schools would have their own panel, but all the panels in the schools could also be networked to another main panel in the superintendent’s office. The superintendent would then be able to keep watch on the entire district and see which building and where inside the building an alarm is coming.

Another advantage of Addressable systems is troubleshooting. For example, if there is a dirty smoke detector, the system will let you know that the device is dirty and needs to be replaced. If a device is not communicating properly with the panel, the system will notify you of the problem. These are just a couple features that make Addressable Fire Panels a requirement of most Authorities Having Jurisdictions. 

Determining What You 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 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. Send us a message or call us at 888-412-5356 to speak with a committed customer care specialist about your options.

Contact Our Friendly Pros Today


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