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What are Addressable Fire Alarm Systems?

An addressable fire alarm system is made up of a series of fire detectors and devices that are connected back to a central control panel.

With addressable systems, each device has an address or location, enabling the exact detector that was triggered to be quickly identified. This makes addressable alarm systems ideal for large buildings, particularly commercial premises spread over a wide area.

Advantages of addressable fire alarms

  • Quickly determine the location of a fire.
  • Specific actions can be programmed by the user.
  • Reduced likelihood and better handling of false alarms.
  • More reliability, less likely to lose connection.
  • Lower overall cost of wiring.
  • Ability to monitor integrity of the system, with detector health checks.

Fire alarm systems that can be programmed

One of the biggest advantages of addressable fire alarm systems is that they can be configured so that a specific action triggers a specific response.

For example, cause and effect programming can be used to say that a particular ‘cause’ such as activation of a fire detector, has the effect of alarms sounding in a specified area and the system being put on alert mode in another. This means that phased evacuation can take place, with priority areas evacuated first. Each area of a building can then be evacuated one at a time, which allows safer fire evacuation procedures in large buildings.

Reduce false fire alarms

False alarms cause disruption and can be costly, so it’s in any business’s interests to minimise their impact and reduce the likeliness of them occurring in the first place.

One of the advantages of addressable fire alarms is that they can allow air to be monitored through the detectors, so if air is contaminated for example with dust (which can activate some fire alarm systems) then a ‘pre-fire’ warning is triggered. This allows investigation to take place, so any issues can be rectified before a full scale false activation of the system takes place.

Addressable fire alarms are more reliable than conventional

Due to the way that addressable alarm systems are connected, any breaks in the circuit caused by damage are less likely to result in devices being disconnected. Unlike conventional systems, all devices are wired up on a loop and are connected to the panel unit at both ends. Therefore if connection breaks at one end, devices will still be connected.

Cost of wiring up alarm system is cheaper

Addressable fire alarms are wired on a loop, which is basically a circuit that connects the system to other devices such as sprinkler systems, call points and detectors. With conventional fire systems each zone and sounder circuit has its own wire, so the cost of wiring can potentially be higher, depending on how many devices need connecting up.

Monitoring and checking all individual fire detectors for faults

Fire alarms are arguably one of the most critical aspects of fire safety on your premises. Another benefit of addressable fire alarm systems is that all devices can be individually monitored and checked for faults, which makes maintenance easier. If an issue is found with a particular detector for example, then a notification will be received by the central control panel.

Having an addressable system therefore means that any problems can be discovered immediately so that they can be rectified, ensuring that everything is in good working order should an incident occur.

Do you need an addressable fire alarm?

This will depend on the requirements of your premises. Usually addressable fire alarms are more suited to larger commercial premises, as they provide accurate and detailed information as to the location of a fire, which isn’t necessary in smaller buildings.

These systems provide sophisticated fire protection, so therefore they do tend to be more expensive than conventional alarms overall. However if having a reliable method of alerting you to danger, that cuts down false alarms and allows for smooth evacuation is critical to your business, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

Of course, the type of fire alarm system installed is important to get right and we’d strongly advise talking to a fire protection expert before making a decision.

Further advice and information

For advice on whether addressable fire alarms are the most appropriate choice to protect your business, contact Euro Fire Protection. We supply and install fire alarm systems across the UK.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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10 Ways to Prevent Commercial Kitchen Fires

Fires in commercial kitchens are a common occurrence and can have potentially devastating effects on businesses.

According to UK government statistics, over half of all fires attended by the fire services involve cooking equipment, with many of these occurring in restaurants, canteens, hotel kitchens and fast food outlets.

There is a very high fire risk associated with professional cooking environments, as the potential for accidents is great in a fast paced, highly pressured environment. Combine this with large volumes of flammable cooking oil, naked flames and heat sources – and you have a recipe for disaster!

How to reduce the fire risk in restaurants and professional kitchens

A kitchen fire can start in an instant and take hold very quickly. As fires caused by cooking have the highest injury rate, it’s important to take steps to reduce the likelihood of a fire breaking out to safeguard employees and visitors.

If you’re a restaurant owner or work in a commercial kitchen, here are some practical steps you can take to protect yourself and prevent fires.

Get a fire risk assessment of your premises

With fires, prevention is better than the cure. If you’re unsure how to best protect your business, this is where fire risk assessments come in. Required by law, a professional will identify hazards on your premises that could result in a fire and how to mitigate the threat. Please note, it’s important that this is carried out by a qualified fire risk assessor or it may not be valid.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions

In kitchens there is inevitably a lot of equipment that could potentially be dangerous if badly installed or misused. Cooking appliances and apparatus such as ovens and deep fat fryers must always be properly installed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, don’t cut corners when it comes to maintenance. Looking after your equipment is essential to ensuring safety in the kitchen.

Be extra careful with deep fat fryers

Deep fat fryers, commonly used in fast food outlets and restaurants are a common cause of kitchen fires. Overfilling them can lead to the oil being ignited and going up in flames. Once started, the fire can spread very quickly, causing serious risk of injury and even death. Take care to fill to the appropriate level and never leave unattended if in use.

Also, if possible try and choose a fat fryer with a special system, built in to automatically turn off once the oil reaches a certain temperature, this stops overheating and reduces the risk of a fire.

Remote power shutdown in an emergency

Passive fire protection is important to ensure the layout of a kitchen helps prevent fire as well as aiding attempts to contain fire and make the area safe. If a fire starts, it’s crucial that the power or gas supply is able to be shutdown remotely, to make the situation safer for fire services and avert a potentially bigger disaster.

Ventilation and extractor systems

In 1997 a fire broke out in a fast food restaurant at London Heathrow. The flames spread from the ventilation shaft above a fat fryer, through the air ducts, almost bringing the entire airport to a standstill. Due to its poor design and lack of fire safety, the ventilation system allowed the fire to spread throughout the terminal. This shows the importance of ensuring that ducting and extractor systems are designed with fire safety in mind.  

All surfaces should be kept clean and tidy

It probably goes without saying that a kitchen should be clean, but special attention must be paid to keep areas free of oil and grease. Build-up of grease inside cookers and oven tops can lead to a fire, so regular cleaning of ovens and equipment is essential.

In general, kitchens should be a tidy environment, without any clutter that could block exits and prevent escape in an emergency. All waste cooking oil should also be disposed of properly and not be left on the premises for longer than is necessary.

Ensure kitchen staff wear appropriate clothing

Again, in commercial kitchens, all staff should be very familiar with this basic safety rule, but in smaller establishments this may be less strictly regulated. Loose clothing should not be worn whilst cooking, sleeves must be rolled up and long hair tied back. Aprons are ideal for keeping clothes away from flames.

Never leave cooking unattended

The golden rule in preventing both domestic and non-domestic kitchen fires is to always pay attention to what you are doing. In a busy restaurant kitchen this may not always be easy, but timers can be really useful to alert chefs when food is ready, to avoid it being left in the ovens for longer than it should.

If for any reason cooking must be left, it’s important that all staff are instructed to turn off appliances and take pans off the heat. Even if you think that you’ll only be away for a moment, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Make sure premises is secured at night

As we all know how easy it is to forget to turn the oven off, it’s important that at the end of each day a final check is carried out to ensure all cooking appliances and equipment are properly switched off.

Ideally this would be the responsibility of the owner or the last person to leave at night. Creating a checklist for staff is a good idea to ensure the premises is secure.

Have firefighting equipment on hand

If your best attempts to prevent a fire from starting in a kitchen fail, then having the right equipment to extinguish any flames can make the different between an inconvenient mess and a business ruined. Special fire extinguishers for Class F cooking fires are essential for commercial kitchens and fire blankets are handy for smaller pan fires.

All staff should be trained in the proper use of firefighting equipment and know when a fire can be dealt with safety and when it’s best to get out.

Is your kitchen protected against fire?

At Euro Fire Protection, we provide fire risk assessments and safety equipment for a range of businesses. Let our qualified fire risk assessors help you protect your premises.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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What is a Fire Alarm Panel?

Fire alarm panels act as a control unit for fire alarm systems that have multiple linked detectors. They are typically used in larger buildings and commercial properties. Their primary tasks are to monitor fires, alert people to the location of a fire and supply power to fire detectors.

Types of fire alarm panel

Fire alarm panels usually fall into two categories, conventional and addressable; we take a look at their uses, features and which environments they are best suited to.

Conventional fire alarm panels

  • Modern conventional fire alarm systems work by having a series of circuits that link all fire sensors back to the central panel.
  • With conventional fire alarm systems, a building is divided into zones and devices wired up accordingly. Zones will usually represent a floor or general area of a building.
  • If a fire is detected then a signal is sent from the sensor to the panel, this will result in an LED light coming onto to indicate the location of the potential fire. This is often represented with a map/floor plan of a property on the panel. This is used by fire fighters when locating a fire.
  • The cost of installing this type of system is fairly expensive, primarily due to the labour needed to install the cabling required for each zone and sounder circuits. Overall however, this system is a cheaper option that the more advanced, addressable systems.
  • Conventional fire alarm panels are best for managing fire alarms systems in small to medium sized locations e.g. in shops, schools, restaurants and flats.

Addressable fire alarm panels

  • Addressable fire alarm systems are more advanced and need a more sophisticated control unit. Addressable fire panels have more capacity and flexibility, allowing more control over the system. They are therefore best suited to larger offices, commercial buildings, entertainment venues and environments with very specific fire protection/safety requirements.
  • These systems are generally used in situations when it’s critical to know where exactly where a fire is straightaway. With addressable, rather than a building being wired into zones, the entire system is wired in one or more loops, with devices being labelled with an exact location description on the panel, so that a fire can be pinpointed down to the individual detector that was activated.
  • Rather than just locating a fire as ‘first floor’ this type of system will track the fire down to ‘first floor, HR department, smoke detector in interview room 2’ for example.
  • Advanced ‘cause and effect’ programming is allowed by addressable panels to trigger specific responses to certain events. This provides the capability to tailor a system to the exact requirements of an environment.
  • As all devices are wired in loops, more reliability is provided in the system than that of conventional as if damage occurs at some point in the cable signals can still reach the panel.
  • If a key consideration when choosing your alarm system is to limit the occurrence of false alarms, then addressable is the best option. The panel unit can monitor the air flow through smoke detectors to check for dust contamination that could lead to false activation.
  • Wireless fire panels are also available as a subset of addressable alarm panels and are used typically in situations where wiring up a system is not suitable or practical. Devices can be connected remotely back to the central control.

Typical system features on the panel

  • System reset – this allows the system to be manually reset after an alarm. This should stop the alarm from sounding, providing conditions have returned to normal. If there is still smoke etc. present, then detectors will pick up on this and trigger the alarm again.
  • Silencer – stops the alarm from sounding, so that emergency workers can communicate once inside a building after evacuation. Can also be used when testing the system discretely.
  • Drill – special drill feature, so that a fire drill can be carried out without an automatic notification being sent to the fire brigade.
  • Pre-alarm – a stage of alert that suggests there may be a potential fire, before a full scale activation of the system occurs. This reduces false alarms as investigations can be carried out prior to the alarm sounding.
  • Trouble and fault detection – the panel monitors for faults with devices and indicates faults in the system.

Do you need a fire alarm panel?

Whether you need a fire alarm panel or not will depend on the fire alarm system you require. Fire alarm panels are would usually be recommended for medium to large buildings, commercial premises and multiple occupancy residential properties. If you’re not sure which type of alarm you require, it’s best to take advice from fire protection specialists.

For more information

Euro Fire Protection supply, install and maintain fire alarm panels for commercial and residential properties. We can advise on which fire alarm system is best for your premises.

Call us today on 08000 515 199.

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