by Will Mason
Tel: 020 8541 5646
The main reason for a fire detection and fire alarm system is to assist the fire safety strategy for the property. It is, essential that the system design appropriately upholds the requirement of the fire evacuation procedures, as opposed to those procedures being designed around a pre-specified system design.
In truth, the design of the fire detection and fire alarm system will be based on the actions needed following the fire alarm activation. Special attention should be given when it comes to a system which is capable of providing two (or more) stage alarm.
Should a building contain alarm systems connected with potential risks besides fire, the different hazard alarms ought to be effectively coordinated and be dissimilar to one another. In such buildings, the various concerns ought to be thoroughly assessed, and arranged in such a way that a low priority alarm cannot override or hide an alarm of a higher priority. However, althought, fire will usually have the highest priority, there are sometimes situations where other hazards may have a higher priority.
The system requirements, including those imposed by the evacuation procedures, the configuration of the building, and the use to which the building is put, need to be ascertained as accurately as possible by discussion involving the end user or buyer and any other parties who may have an interest, including the Fire and Rescue Service or fire insurer. It is recommended there be an appropriate discussion involving the end user or buyer and the fire alarm system designer. In a small, simple building, the extent to which such consultation is necessary may be minimal; the end user or buyer may have a limited knowledge of fire safety guidelines, and system design may involve no more than the correct locations of the fire alarm detection and manual call points. In complicated premises, you will probably find that considerable amount of discussions between all parties previously mentioned will be required.
One organisation should take responsibility for the design
The design may be undertaken by the supplier, the installer, representatives of the user or purchaser (including consultants), or by any combination of these parties. It is advisable that, at the contract stage, a single organization takes responsibility for the design of the system, a single organization takes responsibility for the installation work, including compliance with the design, and a single organization takes responsibility for commissioning of the system. Any two, or all three, of these parties may take the form of one single organization. The responsibility for each of these three stages needs to be clearly defined and documented. Experience shows that the responsibility for the provision of a zone plan is often ill-defined, leading to the absence of a suitable zone plan when an installation is handed over. It is important that this responsibility is defined at an early stage of the planning of an installation.
It is critical that, during the design period, prevention of the prospect of false alarms is considered, in addition to the effectiveness of the system to give a warning in the event of fire.
With many different types of fire alarm systems on the market, whether it be a “Wired or Wireless," “Conventional or Addressable," it is important that the design is in accordance with the appropriate standards and that the correct consultation procedure with the relevant fire authorities and enforcement bodies has taken place.
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