A fire alarm system has a number of devices working together to detect and warn people through visual and audio appliances when smoke, fire and carbon monoxide or other emergencies are present. These alarms may be activated automatically from smoke detectors, and heat detectors or may also be activated via manual fire alarm activation devices such as manual call points or pull stations. Alarms can be either bells or wall mountable sounders or horns. They can also be speaker strobes which sound an alarm, followed by a voice evacuation message which warns people inside the building not to use the elevators. Fire alarm sounders can be set to certain frequencies and different tones including low, medium and high, depending on the country and manufacturer of the device. Most fire alarm systems in Europa sound like a siren with alternating frequencies. Fire alarm electronic devices are known as horns in the United States and Canada, and can be either continuous or set to different codes. Fire alarm warning devices can also be set to different volume levels.
After the fire protection are established – usually by referencing the minimum levels of protection mandated by the appropriate model building code, insurance agencies, and other authorities – the fire alarm designer undertakes to detail specific components, arrangements, and interfaces necessary to accomplish these goals. Equipment specifically manufactured for these purposes is selected and standardized installation methods are anticipated during the design.
- ISO 7240-14 is the international standard for Design, installation, commissioning and service of fire detection and fire alarm system in and around the building. this standard was published in August 2013; Status, Published; Edition 1; Technical Committee ISO/TC 21/SC 3 Fire detection and Alarm system.
- NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code is an established and widely used installation standard from the United States. In Canada, the ULC is the standard for the fire system.
Last version 2019; Status, Published. This code is part of a family standard NFPA
- TS54-14 is a Technical Specification (CEN/TS) for Fire detection and fire alarm system - Part 14: Guidelines for planning, design, installation, commissioning, use, and maintenance. This document has been prepared by Technical Committee CEN/TC72, This document is part of the EN-54 series of standards. This standard was published in October 2018; Status, Published.
There are national codes in each European country for planning, design, installation, commissioning, use and maintenance of fire detection system with additional requirements that are mentioned on TS54-14
- Germany, Vds 2095
- Italy, UNI 9795
- France NF S61-936.
- Spain UNE 23007-14
- United Kingdom BS 5839 Part 1.
Emergency voice alarm communication systems
- Some fire alarm systems like Simplex utilize emergency voice alarm communication systems built-in to its own panels (EVAC) to provide pre-recorded and manual voice messages. Voice alarm systems are typically used in high-rise buildings, arenas and other large "defend-in-place" occupancies such as hospitals and detention facilities where total evacuation is difficult to achieve.
- Voice-based systems provide response personnel with the ability to conduct orderly evacuation and notify building occupants of changing event circumstances.
- In high-rise buildings, different evacuation messages may be played on each floor, depending on the location of the fire. The floor the fire is on along with ones above it may be told to evacuate while floors much lower may simply be asked to stand by.
Mass notification systems/emergency communication systems
- New codes and standards introduced around 2010 especially the new UL Standard 2572, the U.S. Department of Defense's UFC 4-021-01 Design and O&M Mass Notification Systems, and NFPA 72 2010 edition Chapter 24 have led fire alarm system manufacturers to expand their systems voice evacuation capabilities to support new requirements for mass notification including support for multiple types of emergency messaging (i.e. inclement weather emergency, security alerts, amber alerts). The major requirements of a mass notification system are to provide prioritized messaging according to the local facilities' emergency response plan. The emergency response team must define the priority of potential emergency events at the site and the fire alarm system must be able to support the promotion and demotion of notifications based on this emergency response plan. Emergency Communication Systems also have requirements for visible notification in coordination with any audible notification activities to meet requirements of the ADA. Many manufacturers have made efforts to certify their equipment to meet these new and emerging standards. Mass notification system categories include the following:
- Tier 1 systems are in-building and provide the highest level of survivability
- Tier 2 systems are out of the building and provide the middle level of survivability
- Tier 3 systems are "At Your Side" and provide the lowest level of survivability
Mass notification systems often extend the notification appliances of a standard fire alarm system to include PC based workstations, text-based digital signage, and a variety of remote notification options including e-mail, text, or IVR-based telephone text-to-speech messaging.
An important consideration when designing fire alarms is that of individual zones.
- A single zone should not exceed 2,000m² in floor space.
- Where addressable systems are in place, two faults should not remove protection from an area greater than 10,000m².
- A building may be viewed as a single zone if the floor space is less than 300m².
- Where the floor space exceeds 300m² then all zones should be restricted to a single floor level.
- Stairwells, lift shafts or other vertical shafts (nonstop risers) within a single fire compartment should be considered as one or more separate zones.
- The maximum distance traveled within a zone to locate the fire should not exceed 60m.
Also, the NFPA recommends placing a list for reference near the FACP showing the devices contained in each zone.
The first automatic electric fire alarm was patented in 1890 by Francis Robbins Upton, an associate of Thomas Edison. George Andrew Darby patented the first European electrical heat detector in 1902 in Birmingham, England. In the late 1930s Swiss physicist Walter Jaeger tried to invent a sensor for poison gas. He expected that gas entering the sensor would bind to ionized air molecules and thereby alter an electric current in a circuit in the instrument. His device did not meet its purpose: small concentrations of gas did not affect the sensor's conductivity. Frustrated, Jaeger lit a cigarette and was soon surprised to notice that a meter on the instrument had registered a drop in current. Smoke particles from his cigarette had done what poison gas could not. Jaeger's experiment was one of the advances that paved the way for the modern smoke detector. In 1939 Swiss physicist Ernst Meili devised an ionization chamber device capable of detecting combustible gases in mines. He also invented a cold cathode tube that could amplify the small signal generated by the detection mechanism to a strength sufficient to activate an alarm.
Ionization smoke detectors were first sold in the United States in 1951; they were used only in major commercial and industrial facilities in the next several years due to their large size and cost. In 1955 simple home "fire detectors" for homes were developed, detecting high temperatures. The United States Atomic Energy Commission (USAEC) granted the first license to distribute smoke detectors using radioactive material in 1963. The first low-cost smoke detector for domestic use was developed by Duane D. Pearsall in 1965, an individual replaceable battery-powered unit that could be easily installed. The "SmokeGard 700" was a beehive-shaped, strong fire-resistant steel unit. The company began mass-producing these units in 1975. Studies in the 1960s determined that smoke detectors respond to fires much faster than heat detectors.
The first single-station smoke detector was invented in 1970 and made public the next year. It was an ionization detector powered by a single 9-volt battery. They cost about US$125 and sold at a rate of a few hundred thousand per year. Several technological developments occurred between 1971 and 1976, including the replacement of cold-cathode tubes with solid-state electronics, which greatly reduced the detectors' cost and size, and made it possible to monitor battery life. The previous alarm horns, which required specialty batteries, were replaced with horns that were more energy-efficient, enabling the use of commonly available batteries. These detectors could also function with smaller amounts of radioactive source material, and the sensing chamber and smoke detector enclosure were redesigned for more effective operation. The rechargeable batteries were often replaced by a pair of AA batteries along with a plastic shell encasing the detector. The 10-year-lithium-battery-powered smoke alarm was introduced in 1995.
The photoelectric (optical) smoke detector was invented by Donald Steele and Robert Emmark of Electro Signal Lab and patented in 1972.
In 1894, a young engineer working for a Gardner, Massachusetts furniture manufacturer turned his energy towards finding a better way to record the time and attendance of his company’s employees. E.G. Watkins’ hard work and ingenuity led to the invention of the Simplex time clock, the first accurate and easy to use time recording system – and to the creation of the Simplex Time Recorder Company. Simplex Time Recorder operated under the private ownership of the Watkins family for over a century, expanding into the fire alarm and building systems business in the 1950s. In December of 2000, Simplex became part of Tyco International, a global leader in the fire protection and security solutions industries. Today, Simplex is one of the most trusted brands in the fire protection industry and customers around the world rely on Simplex systems to help keep their people and their property safe every day.
SIMPLEX 4100ES FIRE ALARM CONTROL PANEL
4100ES addressable fire alarm control panels support up to 3,000 points, fire alarm and emergency voice communication, self-testing notification appliances and IP based networking. With scalable architecture and future-proof design, 4100ES panels are ideal for medium to large facilities and multi-building campus style networks. All Simplex addressable panels rely on TrueAlarm addressable detectors.
- Advanced life-safety platform delivers power, flexibility, and high speed network connectivity -Simplex led the industry with the 4100U system. Now, with the 4100ES platform, we’ve added a suite of technology and service improvements that can make everyone’s job easier, from contractors to facility managers and building owners, by improving serviceability, reducing costs and saving time.
- IP networking offers speed and flexibility at every stage - ES Net IP networking technology unlocks powerful benefits for life safety systems. Faster data rates and a wide range of wiring media choices delivers greater efficiency in installation, operation and maintenance. And because IP is a standard, proven technology, as it continues to evolve over time, so will ES Net, making your life safety network more resilient and future-proof.
- TrueAlert Addressable Appliance and Speaker Compatible - The 4100ES system can directly control Simplex's revolutionary new TrueAlert ES addressable notification appliances and speakers.
- Easier installation and upgrades - Projects that require a phased installation can leverage the benefits of Install Mode. While in this mode, the 4100ES will provide a single system trouble alert for points that are programmed in the system but haven’t yet been wired—or are wired but not yet commissioned.
- Secure storage for improved access and compliance - Our Mass Storage Device stores and archives vital data within the panel, such as system software programs, as-built drawings for the fire alarm system, inspection/test reports and other critical site information. No extra cabinets are needed in the control room, and everything is within easy reach. Plus, the Mass Storage Device is supervised so you can be alerted in the event of removal or failure.
ES Touch Screen Display for 4100ES and 4010ES Control Units
We are pleased to introduce the new, color, ES Touch Screen Display (ES TSD) for Simplex 4100ES and 4010ES fire alarm control units. This new interface is a major upgrade to our flagship control units and it has a host of new features that make using Simplex systems simpler, faster and more intuitive.
A Great Looking, Modern, Color Touch Screen Display
The new ES TSD is a major enhancement for 4100ES and 4010ES systems. The large 8” (20cm) screen is a huge upgrade over the 2x40 LCD and shows a wealth of information, allowing operators to quickly see and assess what’s happening. It also vastly reduces scrolling when viewing event logs, point lists and other system information. The ES TSD is also available in remote standalone display cabinets and as an option on 4100ES remote annunciators. This makes the ES TSD a great option for facilities where quick access to information and aesthetics are essential.
Flexible Display Options
The ES Touch Screen Display supports several display options for compliance with local requirements:
- First and Most Recent Event (followed by list of first 6 events), or
- Most Recent Event (followed by list of first 7 events), or
- First 8 Events
- Zone Display (an extension of above selections; e.g. events = points and/or zones)
Built for Reliability
Both soft and hard buttons are provided for critical functions: i.e.,
- Event Acknowledge (Alarm, Pri2/CO, Supervisory and Trouble)
- Alarm Silence, and
- System Reset
If the display or soft buttons experience a failure the hard buttons remain available for critical functions (and vice versa – if the hard buttons fail the soft buttons remain available).
Background downloads over Ethernet are virtually instantaneous (note: all Control Panel User Interfaces use an Ethernet connection). When downloads to remote units are performed over RUI download times will be similar to InfoAlarm (long durations can occur depending on the size and configuration of the panel). However, if distances are under 330’ (100m) Remote Displays can be connected over Ethernet. Where longer distances are required, ES Touch Screen Remote Displays have a USB port which can be used to download files locally at the Remote Display using a USB file storage device. Also, the ES TSD will display the activity and progress during downloads to help keep the installer aware of progress which is not possible on InfoAlarm Displays.
Reduced Operator Training
The Color Touch Screen operation of the ES TSD is very intuitive - much like the operation of the smartphones and tablets we all use every day. The large screen display format also provides more information at-a-glance with less scrolling and screen navigation required. Since the design is based on the operation of the 4007ES Color Touch Screen Display (which has received very positive reviews) it offers an intuitive and consistent operation and experience across all ES panels.
The new 6.01 version of software also includes enhancements that allow “zones” to be configured in 4100ES and 4010ES panels (similar to 4007ES). Multiple devices can be associated with a specific area so that only a single zone/area is displayed for all devices within the zone. Using the ES TSD, an operator can easily drill down to see which individual device(s) are in alarm/supervisory/trouble conditions.
For more information please refer to