Fire systems foster positive results in reducing false alarm levels

 - 
Thursday, April 1, 2004

The advent of addressable fire detection and alarm systems seems to be putting one of the industry’s biggest problems - false alarms - to rest.

Industry participants noted the increased intelligence of the sensors, detectors and addressable panels has had a positive impact on reducing the level of false fire alarms.

A big part of that, said John Haynes, director of marketing for Simplex-Grinnell, is having systems that can detect and notify users about dirty sensors. “You can schedule maintenance more effectively,” he said.

Photoelectric and heat-detecting sensors also have improved intelligence, he noted, based on more complex algorithms, to distinguish between a real fire and a non-event.

An intelligent system, said Jeff Hendrickson, director of marketing for Fire-Lite and Silent Knight, “makes maintenance easier, cheaper and more reliable.”

He said the key is addressability - ”you can find out exactly what a sensor in a lobby is doing” and bring that information to a technician.

Other advances that have helped reduce false alarms, said Nick Martello, director of marketing for Notifier, include alarm verification, which provides a short delay for verification before the alarm is sent; improved sensitivity, which compensates for special situations such as steam in a cafeteria; and day-night settings, which adjusts sensitivity for “background noise” such as dust that is higher in the daytime when people are around, but lower at night.

An addressable system with a cooperative sensing mode, Martello said, has the ability to take the information from three adjacent detectors and take the sum of the smoke in the three chambers to make a determination about an alarm.

“It’s all part of the Holy Grail of making more stable sensing devices,” he said.

As a result, users are continuing a migration toward addressable systems, especially as prices for addressable systems become comparable with conventional installations.

“We’re on a great wave of bringing addressable everywhere,” according to Hendrickson.