CODE & STANDARD REFERENCES
What are the different types of fire alarm systems?
Welcome to our multi part series on the components of fire alarm systems and the different types of fire alarm systems. In this series we will take a deep dive into the world of NFPA 72 and get into the nuts and bolts of how a fire alarm system is installed.
If you haven't done so already, please go to the content library and check out our series on when a fire alarm system is required in a building based upon occupancy groups.
Today, we will focus on the most common types of fire alarm systems you will most likely encounter in your day-to-day operations.
PROTECTED PREMISES SYSTEMS
First, we will discuss protected premises systems, We don't often use the term protected premises in casual speak but from a definition standpoint, NFPA 72 refers to a traditional commercial fire alarm system as a protected premises.
Section 22.214.171.124 defines a protected premises control unit as a fire alarm control unit that serves the protected premises or a portion of the protected premises. The definition highlights the fact that a protected premises is a local meaning serving only the building it protects.
Section 126.96.36.199 defines a protected premises fire alarm system as a fire alarm system located at the protected premises. Once again, the definition emphasizes local in parentheses.
A quick keyword search of NFPA 72 chapter three definitions results in 34 protected premises hits.
Protected premises references are found in building fire alarm systems, master fire alarm control units dedicated function fire alarm control units, and releasing service fire alarm control units.
Perhaps the best definition of a protected premises is Section 3.3.22. The simple definition is the physical location protected by a fire alarm system. So, in plain speak, a protected premises is any building with a fire alarm system that provides protection for that building. Simple, maybe I should start writing definitions for the NFPA. ?
HOUSEHOLD FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS – SINGLE/MULTI-STATION
Let’s move on to the most common residential or as NFPA calls them household fire alarm systems.
I’m sure we all have stories of being awakened by an annoying chirp in the middle of the night by a four inch round white disc hanging on our bedroom ceiling. That, my friends, is a single or multi station alarm.
Single station covers the affected room only whereas multiple stations are interconnected and would sound an alarm throughout the entire household.
The chirp we all heard is usually an indicator that the battery for the single or multiple station smoke detector needs to be replaced. For bonus points at the end of this series, take a minute at the end of this video and leave your horror story of being awakened by the chirp and what you did to remedy this situation. I am sure we all will get a good laugh at how we fixed the problem.
Single and multi-station smoke alarms are part of the household wiring system and equipped with the battery for backup as required by most model codes. The NFPA definition as well as model code definition is a smoke alarm for these devices. There is no fire alarm control unit or panel connected to these devices. Check out NFPA 72 Chapter 29 for all the installation requirements for single and multi-station alarms.
HOUSEHOLD FIRE ALARM SYSTEM – SMOKE DETECTORS
The other two less-common residential fire alarm systems are a household fire alarm system which has devices connected to a fire alarm control unit which produces an alarm signal throughout the household. This type of system is similar to our commercial fire alarm system as devices are considered smoke detectors as opposed to smoke alarms and therefore need to meet the more stringent listing of UL268. We will get into this in much more detail as the series progresses.
Last, we have a combination system which consists of components and circuits arranged to monitor and annunciate the status a fire alarm and non-fire signaling events such as window and door security alarms.
Probably one of the most well-known providers of combination systems is ADT who provide a complete home security system which includes protection from fire, theft, and carbon monoxide.
All this for a monthly fee of course, which is why it is not as common as your standard single and multi-station alarm system.
So, what are the different types of fire alarm systems?
Well, the most common are protected premises. Think commercial building protection, followed by residential systems which include single and multiple station smoke alarms, as well as combination and household systems.
That wraps up our kickoff into the different types of fire alarm systems and components of fire alarm systems. In our next segment, we will discuss the difference between a building fire alarm system, a dedicated function fire alarm system, and a releasing fire alarm system.
Please don't forget to leave your story in the comments section below for some added bonus points at the end of the series.
Until next time, I am Al Yakel, and this is MeyerFire University.
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