Fire Prevention and Detection is Serious Business

May 2003 Issue


The most recent development in fire detector detection deals with children and the findings of several studies which suggest they can sleep through the sound of an activated smoke alarm. According to various reports, children under the age of 13 sleep so soundly during the first two hours of slumber that the sound of an average 80 decibel alarm will not alert them during the first stages of fire.

It seems clear that some children-especially young children-may at times sleep so deeply that it may not be possible for the alarm alone to arouse them to the point where they can reliably evacuate a house on their own, comments Underwriters Laboratories spokesperson John Dregenberg.

What's worse is that very often children have televisions, computers and other electronics in their rooms. Having these appliances in the bedroom increases the risk of fire.

Sleep experts suggest the poor response could be due in part to the way kids sleep. Children spend more time in the deep, dreamless phase of sleep, so even a blaring smoke alarm won't always wake them, comments Dr. Shelly Weiss, a pediatric sleep expert at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

Underwriters Laboratory has assigned a working group to further investigate the issue and assess whether changes need to be made to the alarms themselves. However, researchers are not sure what type of change would ensure better responses from kids, but might consider altering the tone, volume or style of alarm sound.

This unit is available either as a strobe, horn/strobe or speaker/strobe.Another concern is that when they do hear the alarm, the high-pitched sound makes children confused and unsure of what to do. Fire officials often report of frightened children crawling into closets to hide from smoke and the noise of the alarm. Four inventors are addressing this issue with a talking smoke alarm. The idea for a smoke detector that lets parents record a message to tell young children what to do when there is a fire came in a dream, says Eddie Fray, one of four inventors of the KidSmart Vocal Smoke Detector.

"I dreamed there was a fire in the house and the smoke alarm told the kids to get out," recalls Fray, a 42-year-old father of three. "I almost went back to sleep, but I decided to get up and write it down."

Fray and business partner Dale McCarthy teamed up with Brent Routman and Larry Stults, who also had patented a talking smoke alarm. Routman and Stults received their patent first but agreed to partner with the other two men in a single company, Smart Safety Systems Inc.

While the outcome of these developments are still to be determined, perhaps you should be sharing with your customers that not only do smoke detectors need to be fitted on each floor, but they should also be installed in children's bedrooms. There is some very high-quality fire equipment on the market today for both commercial and residential applications.

System Sensor, for instance, places a premium on research and development, resulting in products that are reliable, sophisticated and designed for real-world applications. The System Sensor i3 Series photoelectric smoke detectors, for example, offers a plug-in design, making installation quick and simple. The i3 Series has drift compensation and smoothing algorithms designed to reduce unnecessary maintenance calls. When a two-wire i3 Series requires cleaning, it annunciates through its remote maintenance signal. The i3 Series detectors have red and green LEDs that make status indication more intuitive. By using the i3 Series reader, detector sensitivity measurement is precise and complete within seconds.

The  built-in thermal heat feature detects fires up to 135°F.The newest addition to the company's SpectrAlert line-the Selectable Output Series is available as a strobe unit, a horn/strobe or as a speaker/strobe because, when it comes to strobe notification appliances, different interior spaces require different intensities of light. All three models offer added candela settings and operate at dual voltage levels, self-adjusting for either 24 or 12 volts. At 24 volts, they can be set to provide light intensities of 15, 15/75, 30, 75 or 110 candela. At 12 volts, they will output 15 candela or 15/75.

A slide switch on the back adjusts the candela level, which is displayed in a window that remains clearly visible once the unit is installed. In horn/strobe models, a three-position DIP switch selects high or low volume, temporal or nontemporal, and mechanical or 3,000 Hz. In addition, these new products come with the unique features including their low current draw and the QuickClick easy installation system.

The newest members of the NAPCO Firewolf family are the FW2-H and FW4-H smoke detectors with built-in thermal heat sensor. These smoke detectors come in both two- and four-wire models. (FW2-H is the two-wire model and the FW4-H is the four-wire model). These advanced photoelectric smoke detectors accurately detect a wide range of fire types than most other smoke detectors.

The built-in thermal heat detector can detect fires up to 135°F (57°C). The FW2-H & FW4-H have an attractive low profile baseless unit, which makes them suitable for nearly any dĂ©cor. The smoke detector's patented chamber and photodiode are designed to detect even the smallest particles, found in clean-burning fire types like alcohol fires. For easy-to-see operation, both smoke detectors have dual LEDs for 360°F visibility. Other features include a vandal-resistant security locking feature, a built-in magnetic go/no-go detector test feature and a removable smoke labyrinth for easy cleaning or replacement.

The Meridian smoke detector series from DSC, with its patented design, is built to be extremely sensitive to smoke over a long period of time. Meridian incorporates an advanced 90° photoelectric detection pattern-a uniquely designed smoke chamber with a high immunity to false alarms. Meridian can detect smoldering or rapid growth fires under a broad range of applications and changing environmental conditions.

It is available with a built-in sensor designed to detect the presence of heat caused by a fire that starts and develops very rapidly.

With a quick glance at the LED indicator located at the top of a Meridian unit, you can see the smoke detector's status. Every 40 seconds, Meridian does an automatic self-test. Meridian smoke detectors come in a variety of models to suit many needs. DSC offers a comprehensive line of fire alarm system devices.

A Wide Scope
The threat of death or injury from fire is a terror everyone lives with, regardless of current events. In addition to homeowners protecting their families, major segments of private industry, as well as the public sector, are involved in having fire detection, suppression and reporting systems installed in their premises. They are also very interested in life safety systems intended to provide people safe egress from structures on fire (or other emergency conditions).

For some, installing fire alarms is a lucrative sideline. For many dealers, it is a full-time pursuit. Whatever your level of involvement, everyone agrees on a few things:

  • Fire alarm systems are a life and death issue and must be undertaken with the highest level of responsibility form every individual involved.

  • The fire alarm market is growing, and in itself presents even more opportunities.

  • To do turnkey fire system installs requires commitment. A thorough understanding of practices, and codes, and remaining current on new technologies and developments.

Regardless of your geographic location, whether your region is going through a growth phase or not, there is a need for new fire systems, upgrades to existing systems and maintenance for all of them. Fire alarm system installation can range from dragging wire, to design and build, to performing scheduled system maintenance and repairs of existing systems.

High-speed networking and fiber-optic communications are features of this system.The goal of the fire alarm industry is to increase the efficiency of fire alarm technology in the areas fire detection/annunciation, installation/maintenance and operation. And incredible advances are continuously being introduced. In an industry whose prime mission is life safety and fire detection, the products on the market today continue to evolve, offering better protection and enhanced features.

Fire Control Instruments (FCI), a part of Honeywell Fire Solutions Group, is utilizing high-speed networking and fiber optic communications, combined with intelligence and high reliability to produce an exceptional line of fire alarm systems. FCI NetSOLO Broadband meets a wide variety of applications using minimum equipment. NetSOLO Broadband delivers full-network control and communications, digital messaging, live voice instructions and firefighter telephone communications through a distributed network fire alarm system on a single pair of wires. NetSOLO incorporates existing 7100 panels, the system doesn't need to be redesigned and can be expanded as the user's application grows. The system uses powerful Boolean logic programming and a state-of-art Digital Signal Processor (DSP). NetSOLO delivers on a platform of survivability, reliability and flexibility. The product's combination of speed, adaptability and ease of installation results in lowered implementation costs while providing a rugged and easy-to-use system.

The VISTA Series from ADEMCO is designed to integrate seamlessly with CCTV, access control and ADEMCO's full range of fire and burglary The ability to integrate seamlessly with CCTV and access control is important today.components. This UL-listed commercial fire and burglary control platform controls up to eight partitions, and supports up to 250 zones/ points using hardwired, wireless and V-Plex addressable technologies. The extensive line of ADEMCO initiating devices, notification circuits, digital dialers, keypads, RF receivers and relays are supported by this extremely powerful control platform. The VISTA-250FBP mounts quickly and easily; is supplied in an attack resistant cabinet, and is available in 12V and 24V models. A revolutionary new feature called "Panel Linking" allows multiple partitions, panels-even buildings-to be armed, disarmed and have status checked from one location.

GE Interlogix is another company with an array of products. Its ESL detectors and initiating devices include an innovative well-rounded line of smoke detectors, heat detectors and manual fire alarm pull stations. ESL detectors come in many forms from wireless to hardwired to point ID. Features such as CleanMe remote maintenance alert, drift compensation and self-diagnostics are designed into the products to reduce false alarms, boost installer sales and increase monitoring retention rates.

ESL smoke detectors are photoelectric and range in applications from 12/24V AC/DC hardwire for residential or to battery operated wireless transmission to 120 VAC direct wire products. Model types are as varied as necessary to meet virtually every application need--whether it be residential, commercial or industrial.

GE Interlogix offers a wide variety of fire alarm control panels. Several models are based on integrating security and fire and some are conventional 24V commercial fire systems. Additionally, there are several modules that can be purchased separately to enhance the panel offerings and provide solutions for specialty applications.

The ESL 1500 FACP Series is designed to meet real-world 24V commercial fire installation and maintenance needs. To meet specific project requirements, a variety of optional modules are available. The ESL 1500 Series offers three panels for options of one, three and five zones that support conventional two- and four-wire smoke detectors, as well as water flow. The ESL 1500 FACP Series is designed for use in commercial, industrial and institutional applications. The ESL 1500 FACP Series is also suited for occupancies such as hotels, motels and dormitories.

The fire alarm control panel here contains built-in NAC Synchronization.Advent Fire delivers advanced hardwire/wireless/point ID fire protection for both new and existing commercial fire alarm installations. The NetworX NX-8 panel is available as a 12V fire panel complete with a red can when ordering the NX-8CF. This kit contains the UL864 module that qualifies the NetworX panel as a true fire panel that can be integrated with security. This panel supports wireless/point ID/ hardwire smoke detectors and can be used in multi-purpose applications.

The FireoLite MS-9200UD intelligent addressable control panel is built upon a platform common to the MS-9200 and MS-9600. The panel features advanced auto-programming capabilities, reducing installation time and overall cost. The MS-9200UD includes an integral remote upload/download communicator which allows for reporting of all system activity to a remote monitoring location. Using a Windows-based software package, the installer can command the MS-9200UD to program itself in less than one minute. The panel also contains a built-in NAC Synchronization for easier user interface. It is unique in the addressable market due to the strength of its smoke detector line, which includes FireoLite's new addressable heat and duct detectors and full line of monitor and control modules. MS-9200UD also has a capacity of 198 addressable FireoLite devices on one loop.

The FireoLite MS-9200UD is a compact, cost-effective, intelligent addressable fire alarm control panel with a built-in communicator, remote site upload/download capability and a capacity of 198 addressable FireoLite devices on one loop. The Signaling Line Circuit (SLC) loop supports up to 99 smoke detectors and 99 control, relay or a variety of monitor modules.

The panel is designed for ease of installation and programming. It features the latest in advanced fire protection technology, including detector sensitivity testing with printable results, system auto-programming, maintenance alert, automatic detector test and drift compensation and selectable strobe synchronization. The built-in communicator is compatible with 14 different formats, including the popular Ademco Contact ID, allowing the reporting of addressable point and software zone status.

The Gamewell IF632 panel is one of the 600 Series of panels and features SmartStart self-programming logic. It is suitable for mid-sized or small projects requiring modular flexibility and performance. The IF632 is a full-featured fire alarm control panel that can be configured to monitor and control both analog intelligent addressable devices and conventional hardwire zones, providing maximum application flexibility. It can be adapted easily to either a complex retrofit installation or a new installation, providing up to 1,008 analog ad-dressable points.

The IF632's SmartStart feature automatically identifies and configures all system modules, The panel can monitor and control both addressable and conventional devices.circuits and devices to default alarm mode. Once initiated, an entire system can be brought online in less than a minute, resulting in savings of time and money. Additionally, Gamewell's SmartNet Network allows the IF632 to be easily expanded to include multiple fire alarm panels.

The IF632 software allows the system to be customized to specific applications, such as cross zoning, alarm verification and extensive input/output relationship control. The interactive operator's display uses LED prompting to ease both user operation and programming. The cabinet design features permanent terminal strips for effortless installation and service.

The FACP 7768 module from AES Corp. links a fire alarm panel to AES-IntelliNet networks for primary reporting as well as full data transport. Signals are sent-by point-in Contact ID format. It offers fast, secure and reliable communication of panel data without telephone lines. Digital fire reporting is possible with this unit.The module works with AES 7750-F RF Subscriber Units. Full data from the panel is transmitted, including account number, point or zone and event or detector type. The data is reported in Contact ID format at the central receiver for forwarding to automation. The hardware is a single circuit card which mounts inside the AES RF Subscriber Unit-no added enclosure or power supply are needed. Data is transferred via an optically isolated serial port which is connected to the alarm panel's printer port. Fire panels supported include: FireoLite 9200; FCI FC-7200; Gamewell Flex 600; Notifier AM2020; Notifier AFP200 and Pyrotronics MXL/MXLV.

The Silent Knight IntelliKnight 5700 is a 50-point addressable digital fire control communicator which is suitable for small to mid-size applications. The IntelliKnight 5700 provides digital fire reporting over ordinary telephone lines, supports up to 50 addressable devices to enable pinpointing of alarms and features a distributed power scheme to simplify installation and reduce wiring requirements.

The drift compensation feature of the IntelliKnight 5700 helps reduce false alarms and also identifies maintenance problems. If a fault condition is detected at any of the 50 addressable points, the system will display the problem sensor and generate a trouble report that is sent to the central station. In addition, the system conducts an automatic test every 24 hours that is sent to the central station. The 5700 reports in both the SIA and Contact ID formats.

Tim O'Leary

Security Dealer Technical Editor, Tim O'Leary, is a 30-year veteran in the security industry and a 10-year contributor to the magazine. O'Leary's background encompasses having been a security consultant and an independent security company owner/operator, in addition to his research and evaluation of new technologies and products introduced to the physical and electronic security fields. He is a member of the VBFAA (Virginia Burglar & Fire Alarm Association); certified for Electronic Security Technician and Sales by the VADCJS (Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services); and has served as a judge for the SIA New Product Showcase.

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