From the cell phones in our hands to the International Space Station floating 250 miles above the earth, the technology around us improves almost daily. Those technological advancements bring a lot of change to our day-to-day lives, and although not all of those changes are desirable ones, it’s safe to say that any progress made in the fire protection industries is to be celebrated. When technology can be used to save lives, mitigate risks, or minimize property damage, it’s definitely putting technology to good use; that’s why every building of size should have an addressable fire alarm system.
What is an Addressable Fire Alarm System?
An addressable fire alarm system works almost identically to a conventional fire alarm system; it’s a series of fire detection devices, such as call points and smoke detectors, which link to a main control panel. The key difference between a conventional system and an addressable system is that the addressable fire alarm control panel has the advantage of being able to pinpoint the precise location of the device or devices that have been triggered or activated, and can even enable the exact detector that was triggered or activated to be specifically identified.
Why Your Building Should Have an Addressable Fire Alarm System
Addressable fire alarm systems, or more specifically, the addressable control panels, provide detailed location information that is absolutely essential in reducing and managing risk and damage in the event of an emergency. In many cases, these systems have provided information allowing emergencies to be prevented, drastically increasing the benefits.
Consider the effect of having a fire alarm triggered in a very large building with a conventional fire alarm panel. The alarm could be coming from any one of hundreds of detection devices throughout the building, and finding out which device was triggered, and subsequently the location of that device, can be a time-consuming process. As minutes pass and the alarm continues, one of two things is happening: either the employee is spending their time chasing down a false alarm, or there’s a fire burning somewhere which could do thousands of dollars of property damage and possibly even threaten lives if not stopped soon. Every second counts, right?
In either event, a false alarm or an actual fire, an addressable fire alarm panel is the best solution. As soon as the alarm was triggered, the employee would be able to know the location of the activated device, as well as the location of any additional activated devices, at a glance. This allows any number of actions to occur immediately, such as monitoring surveillance cameras in the specified location to confirm a threat, going to the location physically, evacuating certain areas or buildings, notifying emergency services, etc.
Whether the fire detection device was triggered by an overzealous home chef in unit #723 of your apartment complex, or triggered by a sudden grease fire in the kitchen of a restaurant within your shopping center, you’ll know in seconds. This kind of instant pinpointing can allow an immediate chain of events and/or on-scene reactions to occur, reducing the odds of it spreading, and thereby increasing the safety of occupants.
Even putting safety factors aside, addressable fire alarm systems and panels may also be able to reduce your service costs. Because an addressable panel is able to provide more detailed information to building safety contractors, it takes them less time to test, upgrade, and repair related equipment. For example, if a safety contractor can spend zero time searching your entire building for a specific problem, they can spend that time fixing the problem instead. Since many safety contractors bill hourly, reducing the amount of time they spend on testing, upgrades, and repairs can save you hundreds or even thousands time, depending on the size of your building.
The New Standard
Many local governments in cities across the US are now requiring addressable fire alarm panels to be installed in new buildings. The idea is to save fire departments time, not only by preventing response to false alarms but also by saving them time on the scene of an emergency. The more detailed information that can be provided to emergency responders only increases their effectiveness in suppressing a dangerous threat. Being informed on where the fire originated, where it likely spread, and what kinds of chemicals or hazards are in directly adjacent areas could save your property from additional damages, but more importantly, it could save lives.
A Long-Term Investment in Building Safety
Anyone who owns or operates a building or business with a conventional fire alarm system, which isn’t able to specify the location of the alarm or fire detection device that was triggered, should heavily consider upgrading to an addressable fire alarm panel. It can sometimes be costly, but it’s most definitely an investment in your building’s safety. If the system prevents a single fire, or allows a fire to be immediately suppressed rather than spreading, it will have paid for itself!