Choosing school control panel features-simple as a,b,c

A tale of two education installations


Due to the declining use of telephone wires, our school has elected to use a digital cellular radio system for reporting all signals to a remote supervising station monitoring service. Since microprocessor power is ample with today's electronics, the FACP may also be used to monitor other inputs for response by other emergency forces, like the police. Therefore, our control panel could be a commercially listed combination fire-security panel. Door contacts are identical in function as manual pulls, and motion detectors employee electronics similar to smoke detectors. A slight change in the programming of the FACP would cause an additional local output causing a different signal to be transmitted to the monitoring station. Two intelligent keypads, with the red one dedicated to the fire alarm functions, would be included. The school may also use the radio for reporting security signals since the FACP was designed to give fire priority.

Upper education plan

Since the school fire system consists of manual pulls, one smoke detector and a couple dozen horns and strobes, the security protection would also be simple and consist of a half dozen door contacts and a dozen PIRs. If security wasn't included in this project, then a six- or eight-zone conventional panel would be easy to install, use and maintain. An economical elementary school system can be as easy as A,B,C.

For our second school, we will look at a college branch campus with three buildings, all located on the same block. To begin, colleges and universities are not Educational (E) occupancies, they are Business (B) occupancies and are not always required to have fire alarm systems. Any Business occupancy (without healthcare operations) requires a fire alarm system only when the combined occupant load is 500 or greater, or more than 100 persons are above or below the exit discharge level; so our school will need a fire alarm system due to its size. In our college example, initiation will not be as straight-forward as in the elementary school; however, the modern fire alarm control panel will still be performing most of the high tech work.

The college has elected to install manual and automatic devices and will need an addressable system that has network capability. Since our system will be installed for emergency notification of all types, an addressable fire alarm control panel, with its flexible programming, will be used as the foundation for all emergency functions. This way, we'll be able to bypass the smoke detectors in the auditorium whenever performances using theatrical smoke are present, without compromising the remainder of devices on that zone.

Addressable output relays may be tied into a video surveillance system to cause specific cameras to be called-up nearest the point of alarm initiation. These security surveillance cameras can also be a supplemental part of the fire alarm system if they are listed for video smoke detection. Their images may be sent over the fiber optic network to a constantly attended location for verification and remote alarm activation. Video image smoke detection cameras may also have their normally open (NO) contacts wired as any conventional automatic detection device and initiate the alarm themselves.

Of course each building must have independent fire alarm notification, yet still be capable of emergency announcements pertaining to all three buildings. For our purposes, we will be using an addressable FACP and Emergency Voice Alarm Communication (EVAC) panel. Using an addressable system allows inputs from all three building to be assigned outputs for both selective and wide-area notification. If the main building was always open (and the FACP controls available) when the two smaller buildings were open, then the two smaller buildings could be treated as paging zones as if they were all one building. If they had separate hours and uses, then they may have their own EVAC panels (or distributed audio) with their own microphones and building specific messages. It would be possible to announce fire alarm, weather alerts, security lockdown and other emergency messages from any of the three buildings. By using distributed audio, each building would have its own microphone for local control and still allow other messages from a central location in the main building (or from the main campus) to override any announcements made from within each building. The Internet or a local fiber optic network connection may be used to transmit live messages or initiate pre-recorded digital messages to one or more buildings or even to specific paging zones. The EVAC speakers could be used to produce warning tones as well as voice messages. This arrangement would allow for campus-wide weather warnings using tones to be sent over outdoor speakers since voice messages may not be easily understood when they compete to be heard over high winds and driving rain.