A Guide to Analogue Addressable Fire Alarms
Addressable fire alarm systems have several unique features.
Each device connected to the main panel has its own address (identity).
Whenever something happens, the address of the responsible device will show up on the main panel. This means you can:
- Communicate with individual devices
- Pinpoint the exact location of a fire
- Reduce the number of, and impact of, false alarms
- Allow phased evacuation
- Set up cause and effect programming
It’s no wonder that addressable systems are the ones recommended for use in most large buildings.
What is cause and effect programming?
Having individual identities for each device means that cause and effect programming is possible. That’s where a specific action will trigger a specific response.
For instance, your ‘cause’ might be that a detector is activated. Your ‘effect’ might be that all alarms in the same area go into alarm mode, while those in a different go into alert mode. This would allow you to evacuate priority areas first.
Cause and effect programming is normally used in this way for phased evacuations. Priority areas are evacuated first. You can see why this is beneficial in large buildings, where large number of people exiting a building at one time would be problematic!
What is a loop?
An addressable fire alarm’s loop refers to its circuit.
With conventional alarms, devices are attached to a single wire, which connects to the main panel. Addressable fire alarms are wired onto a loop, along with other devices such as smoke detectors, call points, sprinkler systems and more.
When choosing an addressable fire panel, it’s important that you check how many devices can be installed onto each loop. This will tell you how many addressable alarm and repeater panels you need.
Less wiring is needed
With conventional systems, each device is connected to the main panel via its own wire.
Since addressable systems are wired into loops, only a single wire is needed to connect several devices to the panel.
This means you’ll spend less on wiring.
Fewer circuit breaks
Wiring the alarm system into loops also leads to fewer circuit breaks.
In a conventional system, the alarm panel is at one end of the wire, and the device at another. If the wire becomes severed, the device becomes disconnected.
An addressable system is more reliable. All devices are wired onto one loop. This loop connects to the fire control panel at both ends. So if there’s a circuit break at one end of the loop, devices will still be connected at the other.
However, it’s important that you use loop isolation modules to separate each device so that if there is a problem, the whole circuit isn’t affected.
Reduced false alarms
Analogue addressable fire alarms reduce the occurrence of false alarms by monitoring the air that travels through smoke detectors. If this air becomes contaminated with dust, a pre-fire alarm warning will sound so that the entire system does not get put into ‘fire’ mode.
This will give you the chance to investigate the situation, which is crucial for some businesses where a false alarm can be incredibly costly.
Monitoring detector faults
Devices will can send health and fault reports back to the control panel, so it’s simple to monitor the integrity of your system.
Is it worth the expense?
Addressable devices tend to be more expensive than conventional ones. If you have a small building, any you don’t need the extra functions an analogue system can offer you, it’s a pointless expense.
However, if you have a large building, an addressable system will reduce the impact of false alarms, make evacuations more efficient and help you find and fight a fire sooner. This may make it the right solution for you.