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Keeping up with modern technology

One fire detection system is not like any other…EPA looks at a new 3 in 1 solution which can offer benefits for installers and end-users. Modern fire systems are now extremely sophisticated, and save countless lives and millions of pounds worth of property daily. Recent technological advances in detection hardware and corresponding system software are the major factors, and both can be incorporated into new systems, and even retrofitted within existing installations.

Keeping up with modern technology

But, are the specific fire detectors you install always the best for your customers’ risks… risks that after all change as a building’s use alters?

For the majority of people, one fire detector might seem much like any other and consequently the final decision regarding which to use, can often be left to the installer. However, Protec, an innovator in fire detector design, has introduced the 6000PLUS multi-sensor that combines three separate sensing elements, each able to recognise a different fire type or condition. The three different detection methods sense various conditions, some or all of which are present at an incipient fire. Optical, Heat and Carbon Monoxide (CO) sensors react to a particular product of combustion; smoke particles, temperature rise, and the presence of CO respectively. The new devices also offer an integral sounder with speech messaging, as well as including a built-in strobe, all in an aesthetically pleasing housing. They are loop powered, and are self-monitoring, constantly checking functionality and state of each different component part.

The wiring and fitting of sensors and alarms is always a sizeable element of the cost of installing a fire system. So, by actually reducing the number of individual devices, this simple to install, multi-sensor technology can help make large financial savings. Also, selecting which type of sensor to use has historically been a designer’s main concern, but with this technology, the task becomes simple and straightforward, not just initially, but even when the site conditions change, as the sensor can have its state ‘changed’ as well.

A further advantage is to increase the chance of detecting a real fire more quickly. Using a combination of the smoke, heat and CO sensors within the device, distinguish between smoke, steam, dust or short-term aerosol discharge, allowing more accurate discrimination between particles of combustion and the non-fire particles that could normally trigger false alarms.

When Protec 6000PLUS sensors are connected to a technically sophisticated fire control panel, powerful discrimination algorithms can be used to match patterns of activity with hundreds of hours of test data. Pre-defined rules can be used that optimise the performance of the sensor for real world applications. For example, in a hotel bedroom full of steam coming from the open door of an en-suite bathroom, the readings from the optical element and the lack of CO and low thermal change would pattern match as a false alarm, so increasing the fire trigger threshold and avoiding an unwanted alarm.

Control panels can also now incorporate an enable/disable feature that can be programmed to automatically switch these multi-function sensors from one state to another. For example, in a kitchen or perhaps warehouse area, where a low level of smoke is expected during the day, the detector can be programmed as a heat only detector, yet a combined smoke and heat detector at night. It is also possible to change the sensitivity levels of the detectors – for example, to increase sensitivity of the smoke sensors within a bedroom when the occupant is asleep, or allow for other unwanted non-fire sources as may be found for instance in a student hall of residence.

In addition, an audible alarm can be delivered that will guarantee minimum db levels throughout a building and, if a clearer message is required, can provide a synchronized speech and/or visual alarm to ensure the system complies to the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.
In summary, to keep FDA system performance at a maximum, now there need only be one sensor/sounder for all applications that can be switched from state to state depending on the conditions present at the time, to ensure a real fire is detected quickly and accurately. This technology is not just reserved for new systems as Protec’s 6000PLUS can be retrofitted to a fire detection system to bring customers the improved performance required to enable them to meet the more stringent requirements of the new regulations. This could provide a low cost route; system enhancement at minimal cost, upgrading to multifunction detector/sounders and revised software, while still generally maintaining the existing wiring architecture.

An extensive range of approved devices is available for installation in a choice of mountings, including special low profile and semi-recessed suspended ceiling mounts to facilitate speedy installation.

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