Fire & Gas

Basics of Fire Detection System

  • A Fire Detection System is an electronic device intended to sense the presence of fires at an early stage and alert people to move out by giving an audible signal to prevent the fire from accident.
  • A Fire Detection System is a crucial component of fire safety in buildings and industrial facilities. 
  • Its primary purpose is to detect signs of a fire as early as possible, allowing for timely response and evacuation. 
  • Early detection of fire also plays a significant role in protecting personnel safety during emergency
  • Property loss can be minimized and downtime for the operation reduced through early detection because control efforts are initiated while the fire is still negligible.
  • Implementing and maintaining an effective Fire Detection System is a key element in overall fire safety planning for buildings and facilities. 
  • Regular testing, inspections, and staff training contribute to the system’s reliability and effectiveness
  • Fire detection systems consist of Carbon Monoxide detectors to sense the presence of fire by determining the levels of carbon monoxide in the air.
  • Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas generated at the time of combustion.

The basic components of a fire detection system are shown below.

basic components of a fire detection system?
  • A smoke detector is an electronic fire-protection unit that automatically detects the presence of smoke in the air as a key indication of fire, and activates an audible signal to warn building occupants. 
  • Smoke Detectors are categorized into
  1. Ionization Smoke Detectors:  These use ionization chambers to detect smoke particles. They are effective for detecting fast-flaming fires.
  2. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors:  These use a light source and a sensor to detect smoke particles. These detectors are best suited to detect smoldering fires.
  • A heat detector is a type of fire alarm system intended to acknowledge when the convicted thermal energy of a fire increases the temperature of a heat-sensitive element.
  • Heat detectors also sense the temperature of a room or area to sense the presence of fires.
  • Heat Detectors are categorized into
  1. Rate-of-Rise Heat Detectors: These activate when the temperature rises at a certain rate.
  2. Fixed Temperature Heat Detectors: These activate when a specific temperature threshold is reached.

Generally, the primary power supply for a fire detection system ranges between 120 V AC to 240 V AC.

  • The term backup power supply is the most essential component in a fire detection system in the event of a power outage.
  • The backup power supply is powered by 6 V- or 12-Volt batteries to keep your system operational if a power failure occurs.
  • This is the central communication hub of the fire alarm system that automatically receives signals from the detectors and alerts building occupants. 
  • It activates alarms, triggers suppression systems, and may communicate with other building systems.
  • Notification devices notify and alert all residents of a building when a fire is detected or an emergency occurs.
  • Notification devices also include Audible and visual alarms such as strobe lights, horns, speakers, sirens, bells, or combination strobe and horns. 
  • These devices may also include audible notifications such as specific instructions on evacuating a building safely
  • Mass notification systems can be programmed to deliver various messages for different events or custom audible alerts.
  • Initiating devices activates the fire detection system in an emergency.
  • The fire detection system must be selected based on the best for your building and exactly where they should be located for maximum safety and code compliance.
  • Initiating devices are classified as manual or automatic.
  1. Manual: A Manual Initiating Device includes a manual pull station that requires manpower to operate by pulling the lever, pushing a button & breaking the glass to initiate the alarm manually.
  2. Automatic
  • An automatic initiation device includes automatic detection devices for smoke, gas, flame, and heat. 
  • These automatic initiation devices can be either addressable or not addressable.
  • Monitoring Devices: Check the operational status of various components, ensuring that the system is functioning properly.
  • Trouble Alarms: Indicate issues such as system malfunctions, faults, or low battery conditions.
  • Remote Annunciator: A secondary control panel or display that provides information about the status of the fire detection system. It may be located at a different part of the building.

Enable the system to automatically notify emergency services or a monitoring centre when a fire is detected.

Detection: Detectors continuously monitor the environment for signs of fire, such as smoke, heat, or flames.

  1. Signal Transmission: The detector transmits a signal to the Fire Alarm Control Panel when the potential fire is detected.
  2. Alarm Activation: The Fire Alarm Control Panel processes the signal and activates alarms, such as sirens or strobes, to alert occupants.
  3. Communication: Modern systems may be integrated with other building systems and emergency services for automated responses and communication.

Conventional Systems:

  • These divide a building into zones, and each zone has a specific set of detectors.

Addressable Fire Alarm Systems:

  • Each detector in the system has a unique address, allowing for precise identification of the location of a triggered detector.
  • This system uses an individual identification code for each detector to identify the location of a fire or other emergency.

Analog Systems: These systems provide more detailed information about the environment, allowing for better analysis and early detection.

Fire Detectors:  Detect fire in the first seconds of an incident and send a fire alarm signal to the control panel. 

Duct Smoke Detectors:  A vital component of all fire alarm systems that can save lives and protect property when properly installed and maintained. 

Sprinkler Systems:  Automatically detect the presence of a fire and activate a system of sprinklers to extinguish the flames.

Flame Detectors:• Flame detectors are the first line of defense in fire detection and extinguishing systems.

These detectors sense the presence of flames by responding to the infrared, ultraviolet, or visible light emitted by a fire.

Gas Detectors: These sensors detect the presence of certain gases that may indicate a fire, such as carbon monoxide or methane.

• Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the proper functioning of a Fire Detection System. 

• This includes testing detectors, inspecting wiring, and verifying communication with the control panel.

• Fire Detection Systems are often subject to local building codes and regulations. 

• Compliance with these regulations is crucial for ensuring the safety and functionality of the system.

Fire detection Systems are used in various sectors like 

  1. Airports
  2. Casinos
  3. Hospitals
  4. Industries
  5. Residential apartments
  6. Hotels 
  7. Large Shopping Malls
  8. Commercial buildings
  9. Corporate offices
  10. Schools and colleges     
  11. Theatres
  12. Warehouse     
  13. Research Laboratories

Fire Detection Systems offers several benefits to provide safety of personal and property protection.

  1. Reduces Spread of Fire
  2. Minimized Downtime
  3. Reduces Insurance Costs:
  4. Early Detection: These detect the earliest signs of a fire & allow for prompt response to reduce the risk of extensive damage and potential injuries.
  5. Rapid Alert and Response: the system activates the alarms immediately when the fire is detected to alert residents This rapid response can facilitate timely evacuation and intervention, minimizing the impact of the fire.
  6. Property Protection: helps to protect property and assets within a building. Quick response can prevent or minimize damage to structures, equipment, and valuable assets.
  7. Occupant Safety: The primary goal of a Fire Detection System is to provide safety for human lives. Early warning allows residents to evacuate safely and efficiently to prevent the risk of injury.
  8. Remote Monitoring and Management: Modern Fire Detection Systems enable remote monitoring and management to receive alerts to authorities or building managers and take necessary actions even when they are not on-site. 
  9. False Alarm Reduction: Advanced technology helps to reduce false alarms, improving the reliability of the system and preventing unnecessary disruptions.
  1. A good and reliable system is highly expensive.
  2. The cost of installation and maintenance is high.
  3. Creates false alarms caused by cooking or steam
  4. Requires additional power supply unit.
  5. Harsh conditions can affect performance.
  6. Extreme temperatures or humidity may impact reliability.

Susceptible to false alarms from various sources and May lead to complacency or system deactivation     

Frequently Asked Questions

A Fire Detection System is an electronic device intended to sense the presence of fires at an early stage and alert people to move out by giving an audible signal to prevent the fire from accident.

Fire Alarm Control Panel

  • Installation of Fire alarm systems is the most essential step to supervise the occurrence of fire.
  • In case of Fire emergency conditions, Fire alarm systems send a signal to a control panel located on-site or off-site to inform the process control panel operator by triggering an audible signal to evacuate and protect human lives, this system helps in minimizing the damage of physical property.  

Photoelectric Sensor

  1. Smoke detectors use optical or electrochemical sensors. 
  2. A combustible gas detector uses an electrochemical cell or catalytic sensor to detect combustible gases in the air. 
  3. Ionization smoke detector senses huge & minimal particles in the air, as well as huge amounts of smoke.
  1. Heat Detector.
  2. Ionization Smoke Detector.
  3. Photoelectric Smoke Detector.
  4. Ionization and Photoelectric Smoke Detector.

Fire Alarm Monitoring System is classified into 

1. Ionization Alarm, 

2. Photoelectric Alarm, and

3. Combination of Ionization & Photoelectric alarms

Sundareswaran Iyalunaidu

With over 24 years of dedicated experience, I am a seasoned professional specializing in the commissioning, maintenance, and installation of Electrical, Instrumentation and Control systems. My expertise extends across a spectrum of industries, including Power stations, Oil and Gas, Aluminium, Utilities, Steel and Continuous process industries. Tweet me @sundareshinfohe

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