I have just got back from School, due to a Fire Alarm Activation. The Fire Alarm was set off by staff burning toast, but still required a site visit from myself, to reset the system.
Lets have a look at how a Fire Alarm System works.
At the heart of the system, is the Control Panel. The Control Panel is the main interface for the system and can be used for various functions. For instance, you can reset the alarm, silence the sounders and access system event logs. 90% of Control Panels are coded, so you have to type a four digit code to be able to access the “Supervisor Functions.” Our system requires a key, to be able to access system functions. Some systems have repeater panels, which also provides information on a fire condition, such as the location and zone. Our system is addressable, which means it can detect what dictator has been activated and the exact location.
EG: Smoke Detector, J Block (Jets Unit) Room F23 or Break Glass, J Block (Jets Unit) Lounge
Detectors come in 2 types, Heat and Smoke. Smoke Alarms detect smoke, which causes a beam to be broken, which sends a signal to the Control Panel and causes the sounders to activate. Heat Detectors on the other hand, detect heat build up. Once the heat reaches the alarm threshold, it causes the alarm to be activated.
The Sounders can either be electronic sounders or bells or a combination of both. We have bells in the Main School and electronic sounders in J Block. These are backed up by the Flashers, which give a visual warning that the alarm is sounding. Also, the Magnetic Door Holders will de-energise, causing doors that are held open, to close on a fire alarm condition.
The Lift Interface is a clever bit of kit, as it causes the lift to automictically go to the re-call floor. (Usually the Ground Floor) However, if the alarm is sounding on the floor that is used as a recall floor, the lift will go to the next level. Once on that level, the doors will open and the controls will lock, preventing the lift from moving.
The Auto Dialler does exactly what it says. Most auto diallers call the Fire Brigade automatically, but this has flaws, as false alarms can cause the Fire Brigade to be called out unnecessarily. We have ours set to automatically bleep me, via my Pager. (Yes, I still use a Pager!) The system automatically sends me a message with the location of the fire.
FIRE ALARM – SMOKE DETECTOR – J BLOCK (JETS UNIT) ROOM F23
So when I attended School, I had to put my Fire Alarm Key into the Control Panel and turn it to “Controls Enabled”. Next, I press the Silence Alarm. This stops the sounders from sounding. Finally, I press Reset, to reset the system. If there is still smoke or fire, the alarm will sound again. This is a failsafe operation.
By the main Fire Alarm Panel for each building, (or in the case of the main school, next to the repeater panels by each block entrance) is a cabinet with a phone in it. This is for the phone for the “Refuge Area”, which connects a disabled person using the refuge area, to the person in charge, at the main panel.
Each week, I test the system, by activating one of the manual call points and also by making sure the sounders \ bells go off. This is a legal requirement, under the he Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Also under the act, each time there is a “Fire Alarm Incident”, it must be logged in the Fire Alarm Log Book, as well as every time the alarm is tested.
Once a year, we also have a Contractor come in, who tests the Fire Alarm System. During this test, the smoke \ heat detectors are checked, using specialist tools, the panels are thoroughly checked and the break glass units are also thoroughly checked.