Introduction to Fire Alarm & Detection Systems
A. Bhatia, B.E.
The primary function
of a fire alarm is to alert the occupants of a building to the presence of a
fire. It may also perform other functions. For instance, the system can be designed
to simultaneously alert the fire department by means of a direct or relayed
signal where a rapid response by the fire department is essential. The US Fire
Administration says "Don't Forget the Smoke Alarms". Even though fire
sprinklers are effective life safety devices you still need smoke alarms. Some
fires can begin as smoldering fires that produce smoke and gases but don't generate
enough heat to activate the sprinklers. Smoke alarms are needed to provide warning
for these situations."
This 3- hour course describes the basic description of fire alarm and detection systems.
The course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.
At the conclusion of this course, the readers will:
This course is aimed at students, architects, building designers, electrical engineers, loss prevention professionals, contractors, civil estimators, HSE staff, facility managers and general audience.
A key aspect of
fire protection is to identify a developing fire emergency in a timely manner,
and to alert the building's occupants and fire emergency organizations. This
is the role of fire detection and alarm systems. Depending on the anticipated
fire scenario, building and use type, number and type of occupants and criticality
of contents and mission, these systems can provide several main functions. First
they provide a means to identify a developing fire through either manual or
automatic methods and second, they alert building occupants to a fire condition
and the need to evacuate. Another common function is the transmission of an
alarm notification signal to the fire department or other emergency response
organization. They may also shut down electrical, air handling equipment or
special process operations, and they may be used to initiate automatic suppression
This course will describe the basic aspects of fire detection and alarm systems.
The course content is in a PDF file Introduction to Fire Alarm & Detection Systems . You need to open or download this document to study this course.
Fire alarm systems
are required by law through building codes, fire codes and special acts or bylaws.
The choice of a particular type of equipment to be used in a fire alarm system
depends on the nature of the occupancy, the size of the building, the number
of occupants and the level of protection desired. To be effective, a fire alarm
system must be tailored to the building and the types of fire that could develop.
The designer of the system must understand the functions and limitations of
the equipment chosen to obtain maximum efficiency and safety.
To achieve the desired level of protection, many fire alarm systems will contain a combination of smoke detectors, heat detectors and manual pull boxes. The type of detector to be used in a given location depends on the nature of the fire expected, the response time desired and the service conditions in which the detector must operate. To be most effective, both smoke and heat detectors must be located on or near the ceiling of the space to be protected because that is where smoke or hot gases initially collect.
Contacting a fire engineer or other appropriate professional who understands fire problems; different alarm and detection options is usually a preferred first step to find the best system.
Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.