BEST PRACTICE IN FIRE DETECTION SYSTEMS

26 October 2015

The incidents of deaths and the loss of revenue caused by fires are still unacceptably high in South Africa. The number of deaths in non residential fires has risen dramatically from 248 in 2004 to 578 in 2013 while the financial losses incurred by both residential and non residential fires has also risen sharply from R1 211 926 334 in 2004 to R2 158 223 582 in 2013 (source: http://www.fpasa.co.za/images/ FireStats/Fire_Stats_2013.pdf).

Interestingly, statistics in the USA show a marked decrease from 2003 to 2013. The number of non-residential fire-related deaths dropped from 185 to 65 and the costs incurred went down from $2 881 500 000 to $2 461 400 000. Similarly the number of fires decreased from 103 200 to 93 700 (source: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/ order_download_data.html).

So why this marked difference? Is it perhaps due to more stringent legislation with regard to the selection, installation, operation, testing and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems? Or perhaps it is due to the need for education of end users to the advantages of a fit for purpose system. Whatever the reason for this discrepancy, there is a critical need for end users to dispense with the attitude that fire detection and suppression systems are a grudge purchase and to see them as a necessary protection of human life and other assets.

A number of standards are applicable to the installation, use, testing and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems in South Africa. These include SANS 10139 (Design, Installation and Maintenance of fire detection systems); SANS 246 (Installation of fire systems in Electronic Equipment Installations (Computer Rooms)); SANS 369 (Operation of Fire Protection Measures); SANS 322 (Fire Detection & Alarm Systems for Hospitals) and SANS 7240 Pt 16&19 (Evacuation systems).

According to Jack Edery, CEO of Elvey, a distributor of Tyco’s FireClass fire detection technology, early consideration of the type of detectors to be used is critical to any fire detection and suppression installation. Heat detectors will be the most immune to false and unwanted alarms in most circumstances, but will not generally provide as early a Best practice in fire detection systems Consideration of the type of detectors to be used is critical to any fire detection and suppression installation. warning of fire as smoke detectors or multisensor fire detectors. In some circumstances, multi- sensor fire detectors can provide early warning of fire with less potential for false and unwanted alarms than smoke detectors. Flame detectors may be appropriate for special risks, such as areas in which there are flammable liquids.

He explains that there are three types of fire alarm detection systems – conventional systems, addressable systems and digital addressable systems. Digital addressable systems are recognised as having a lower potential for false and unwanted alarms than conventional systems.

Edery suggests sub-dividing customer premises up into detection zones to indicate the location of a fire as precisely as possible at the control and indicating equipment (CIE). This aids those responding to the fire alarm signal, particularly the fire services. In conventional systems, each detection zone is connected to the CIE by a separate circuit. In addressable systems, however, one circuit may serve a large number of manual call points and detectors, grouped into several detection zones. In either case, each detection zone will have a separate number and visual indicator at the CIE. In the event of a fire condition, the visual indicator will illuminate, thus assisting people to identify the location of the fire by means of a zone plan, which should be mounted adjacent to the CIE.

The FireClass range includes the latest fire detection technology packaged in an easy to install, out of the box, digital open protocol solution. The digital protocol is well tested in the marine and off shore industries and has a proven resistance to poor, damp and damaged cables found in such hostile environments. Certified to EN54 standards, FireClass addressable fire detection panels include optical smoke detectors and various multi-sensor devices including the FC460PC multi-sensor smoke, heat and carbon monoxide (CO) detector.

Elvey will be distributing the full range of addressable panels with specific initial focus on the FC501 unit. The FC501 incorporates up to 128 addresses and 32 zones and the Intelli-Zone feature allows for auto mapping. Installation is quick and easy, and combined with easy programming and a user friendly remote user interface with control buttons, the FC 501 is the ideal choice for users looking for an affordable panel that displays temperature, CO levels and smoke levels. The FC 501 has both manual and automatic walk test and reporting functions and a 3000-event log.

For more information contact Elvey Security Technologies, +27 (0) 11 401 6700, info@elvey.co.za, www.elvey.co.za



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