How Do Fire Detection Systems Work?

Fire is one of the most dangerous events possible. While fire can be our friend, when its flames are burning through a building uncontrolled and destroying everything in its path and the smoke creates toxic dangers, it becomes our enemy. Thankfully, there are tools that can alert us to possible danger.

Life-Safety Systems

A fire alarm system is basically a network of initiating and notification devices connected to a control panel that alerts people to an emergency in a building.

The purpose of fire detection systems is to immediately send alerts to a control panel, the authorities, and building occupants so each can take the appropriate action. Detecting and controlling a fire as rapidly as possible is critical to saving lives, property, and millions of dollars every year. Fire safety systems truly are life-safety systems.

  • Initiating Device—An initiating device is a sensor that detects common signals of fires and other hazards or a switch that makes it possible for building occupants to set off a fire alarm manually. Initiating device sensors include smoke detectors, heat detectors, and water flow detectors on fire sprinklers. Manual initiation consists of a user pulling down the handle of a pull station to activate an alarm. This action completes a circuit, locks the handle in the activated position, and sends an alarm to the fire alarm control panel.
  • Notification Device—A notification device then sounds a warning. Commonly used devices are horns, sounders, strobe lights, or various combinations of the three to ensure adequate warning for people with visual or hearing impairments.
  • Control Panel—A fire alarm control panel is the brains of the system. All parts of a fire detection and alarm system communicate with the control panel, which decides what to do. The control panel is generally contained inside a locked red box located somewhere safe, such as in an electrical room or maintenance area.

How Do They Work?

Sensors detect certain levels of heat or smoke that could be an indication of fire. In a fire alarm system, there is always one of two basic types of smoke detectors:

  • Optical detectors—Optical smoke detectors discover smoke using infrared LED light sensors. When smoke particles pass thru the chamber of the optical detector, it scatters light that triggers the alarm.
  • Ionization detectors—In the ionization detector, if the smoke particle enters the chamber of the ionization detector, it will reduce and trigger the alarm.

A loud bell or a siren, sometimes accompanied by blinking or flashing lights for individuals who have hearing problems, sounds to alert building occupants.

Fire alarm systems can be set off automatically by smoke detectors and heat detectors, or manually.

Additional Tasks

Additional functions may be available with your fire detection systems in Dover, DE, such as those that can:

  • Discharge clean agent fire-suppression systems in computer rooms or clean rooms
  • Activate deluge fire systems in dangerous areas
  • Open a dry pipe sprinkler system for a pre-action suppression system
  • Be used for notification of other events—severe weather, terrorism, bomb threats, evacuation, etc.—and may utilize the speaker systems to provide voice instructions
  • Monitor carbon monoxide detectors

Qualified professionals can provide valuable assistance by reviewing your operation and providing guidance and recommendations for your fire protection systems that will help improve safety even more.