What is a Fire alarm control panel and how does it work?

Introduction to fire alarm system:

A fire alarm system would be composed of several devices and all of these devices would work together to inform people in case of fire, smoke, or other emergencies. Mostly smoke and heat detectors would activate these alarms. A fire alarm system is necessary to protect a building and also the people in it. This would be really useful to prevent the loss of life and property in case of fire in the building.

Fire alarm control panel:

The fire alarm control panel is also called a fire alarm control unit. Basically, it is the controlling component of a fire alarm control system. This can be described as the hub of the fire alarm system. It would monitor the environment with the help of several sensors and also would take action in case of any emergency situation. The fire alarm control panel would have a power supply, and it would also have initiating and notification circuitry.

Fire alarm control panel

What are the major components of a Fire alarm control panel?

Input devices:

There would be several input devices in a fire alarm control panel. The input devices could be smoke detectors or manual pull stations. The input device is the device that would give a signal to the control panel in case of any variation in the condition. These input devices are also called initiating devices because it would take the first initiative during a change in their surroundings. The input devices should determine the condition of the fire like how fatal it could be. Based on this, preventive measures would be taken.


The input devices would be connected to a circuit and it would transmit a signal in case of any variation in its surroundings. This circuit would be connected to the input device such as a smoke detector

Output devices:

In a control panel, the major purpose of an output device is to notify in case of any emergency situation. The output device could be an alarm, a light or a beacon. The output device would be connected to a circuit. This is called the notification device in a fire alarm system.

The control panel would be connected to the power supply to operate properly. The device which is connected to the control panel would utilize this power. There is also a secondary power supply and this is utilized as a backup in case there is any primary power failure.

What are the major functionalities of a Fire alarm control panel?

  • It will detect any fire or smoke
  • It would alert the people in case of any emergency
  • It would alert the fire department
  • It would automatically activate the fire suppression system

What are the different types of Fire Alarm Control panels?

Coded Type:

The Coded panel is almost the same as the modern conventional panel. This type of panel would have a motor or an electronic pulse generator. When the motor operates the code wheel will rotate. The code wheel is connected to individual zones in a building. During the rotation of the code wheel,it would make changes in the pulse generator and this will provide the code of the box.

Conventional Fire alarms:

This type of alarm system is not suitable for bigger buildings mostly it is utilized in small structures. It would alarm in case of any emergency situation. This type of control panel is less expensive and also it can be easily installed.  In this panel, there would be several LEDs and each LED represents different zones in the building. Each zone in the building would have smoke detectors and in case of any heat or smoke, it would transmit a signal. This type of control panel has a simple control unit and the initiating and notification devices would be connected to the dedicated circuitry.

Programmable type:

This type of system can be defined as a system that is designed according to the customer’s requirements. The circuit in this panel is programmed for fire, smoke, etc. So in the programmable type, the input and the output circuitry are programmed for specific requirements.

Fire Alarm Programmable type

Addressable Fire alarms:

This is another type of fire alarm control panel and it is utilized in bigger buildings such as Shopping-malls. This type of fire alarm system would require less wiring when compared to the conventional type. This system, has a signaling line circuit and it would provide power to the devices which are connected to the control panel, and also communication can be carried out.

The devices in the fire alarm control system such as alarms, detectors, etc. would have a unique number. In this type of fire control panel system, all the input and output devices are connected to the fire alarm control panel. In this type of control panel, the devices which are connected to the control panel signal the control panel in case of any emergency situation. The Control panel can control each device that is connected to it.

Intelligent control panel:

This type of system is called an addressable system in this system it would transmit the data from the sensors in the building or the structure. So the detector would transmit all the details regarding the smoke level. It would have data from each detector.

Difference between Conventional and Addressable fire alarm control panels?

Conventional Fire AlarmAddressable Fire Alarm
In the conventional type the initial cost is very lowAddressable type is really easy to install
In the conventional type we can see a lot of compatible devicesIn the addressable type we would get more information
Conventional type is harder to programAddressable type is easier to program
Conventional type is mostly used for smaller buildingsAddressable type can be used for bigger ones
More cabling is required for the conventional panel typeLess cabling is required for the addressable panel type

What are the applications of fire alarm control panels?

  • It would notify in case of any emergencies
  • Structural damage and life fatality can be avoided
  • Alarming and evacuation can be easily done
  • Fire extinguishing by notifying the sprinkler system
  • Fire and smoke control
  • It will alert us in case of any hazards
  • It can protect our property and our lives

What are the advantages of a fire alarm control panel?

  • It would interact with other systems
  • It would give a proper warning
  • It would communicate with several fire sensors
  • It would notify really quickly in case of any hazards
  • it can prevent damage to the structure and other assets in it
  • It can save several lives
  • Monitoring costs can be decreased by this system
  • It can activate the sprinkler system automatically

Various Manufacturers of the Fire alarm control panel?

  • Edwards signaling
  • United Technologies Corp
  • Honeywell
  • Fike Corp
  • Bay Alarm
  • Kidde fire protection
  • NAPCO Security Technologies Inc
  • Potter Electric signal
  • Pacific Fire and Security
  • Cooper

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