A Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) is the heart of your fire protection system. They’re the link between devices that detect hazards and devices that alert people. Smoke alarms and manual pull stations transmit signals to your Fire Alarm Control Panel. As a result of these signals, a series of events occur that alert building occupants to possible fires. The panels then send out visual and audible alarms indicating a danger of fire; Fire Alarm Control Panels help occupants evacuate safely and allow emergency services to respond quickly to situations.
For large buildings, you’ll need an addressable system. Conventional systems are fine for smaller buildings. Their difference is in their wiring. With conventional fire alarm panels, many field devices are placed in the same zone, so you don’t know which device was triggered in case of fire.
However, addressing fire alarm panels are an intelligent alternative that provide higher accuracy when locating fires. Unlike conventional fire control panels, each field device has its own address. The pinpoint accuracy of this system is safer and more cost-effective, allowing firefighters to spend less time searching for fire and more time putting it out.
The National Fire Protection Association, Fire Alarm and Signaling Code doesn’t specify where FACPs should be located, only that they should be within reach of the authority having jurisdiction. Other resources are available that offer guidance on Fire Alarm Control Panel placement. You should check your local building and fire safety codes for your municipality’s specific standards.
Fire alarm control units must be located on the same floor firefighters use to enter the building, as firefighters need quick, easy access to the panels. This is why FACPs are often placed near the front entrance. In larger buildings, they’ll be in an enclosed emergency control room – if that’s the case, you’ll have to install annunciators to ensure occupants can hear the panel’s alarm signal.
Commercial fire panels from the past have a number of relatively basic features. Modern fire alarms perform a whole host of tasks to ensure the safety of a building and its occupants during an emergency. They can disable elevators, shut down electricity, and even unlock doors that might otherwise be locked during a fire. Many commercial building owners are updating their fire panels due to these new features.
Fire alarm systems require regular maintenance to ensure they work when you need them most. Each year, buildings with a high occupancy risk classification should have their systems inspected. On the other hand, moderate occupancy risk structures require biennial inspections. Low occupancy risk buildings only require triennial assessments. Inspection schedules for critical infrastructure facilities vary depending on AHJ directives.
Fire safety saves lives, property, and money, and every structure’s fire alarm system is unique. Regardless of how different they are, most buildings require an effective fire system control panel to monitor the facility and alert occupants and firefighters to potential fires.
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