You see them in every school, government building, hospital, and many public places you go. Fire alarm systems are one of the few life safety systems prominently regulated by the government at almost every level. Federal, state, and local entities work with organizations like the National Fire Protection Association and independently to set community-appropriate standards for fire alarm systems.
Fire alarm systems must be built to code, and new constructions are particularly subject to those code requirements. Fire alarm and/or suppression systems also commonly require a permit for their construction and registration with your local fire authority.
The FACP may be the powerful brain of your fire alarm system, but like the human body, it can’t do much without properly functioning associated organs and limbs.
With all the care going into designing and installing a fire alarm system, it’s important to take stock of your options. Knowing more information about your fire alarm control panel and the peripherals helping it function can make it easier for you to meet code and protect visitors, employees, and yourself.
Typical Components of a Fire Alarm System
The typical fire alarm system is much easier to understand than the byzantine assortment of pull stations, control panels, smoke detectors, and strobe lights might suggest.
There are two types of fire alarm systems, conventional and addressable. Conventional fire alarm systems are much cheaper than addressable systems, but more expensive to install and can’t “address” the initiating devices attached to it, instead dividing your property into zones or floors. Addressable systems are also more reliable because each device loops into the control panel by way of other devices, meaning there’s always a backup if one end of the wire loop fails.
A fire alarm control panel manages the “initiating devices” that detect smoke, heat, or fire, like:
- Ionization and photoelectric smoke or heat detectors;
- Pull stations to manually trigger the fire alarm;
- Carbon monoxide detectors;
- HVAC/duct heat detectors; and
- Industrial gas detectors.
These devices detect environmental changes in the composition of air, light, or heat around them, and if those changes reach dangerous levels, the initiating device signals the FACP, triggering a local or system-wide alarm depending on your setup. Once the FACP receives the signal, it’s up to the notification devices to protect the employees and visitors of your facility.
These “notification” or “control” devices keep other facility systems safe, mitigate damage, and alert visitors, residents, and employees. These devices typically include:
- Bi-directional amplifiers (BDAs) that boost signal through a building to ensure proper message transmission and meet emergency responder radio coverage code;
- Horns, strobes, and combined horn/strobes for light and sound broadcasting during emergencies;
- Annunciator panels to interface with the fire alarm control panel, usually remotely; and
- Intercom or paging system to notify the facility of a fire.
Now that you have a better understanding about how a fire alarm system works, let’s look at one of the most popular fire alarm system brands, NOTIFIER® by Honeywell. NOTIFIER® offers a range of fire alarm control panels and peripherals to help you decide.
Popular NOTIFIER® Fire Alarm Control Panels
NOTIFIER® by Honeywell is one of the most prominent providers of life safety systems in the world, offering a strong degree of control and customizability. NOTIFIER® offers ONYX Series, FireWarden, and conventional fire alarm control panels depending on the size and scope of your project. These FACPs generally differ by their functionality and the number of devices, addressable or not, that they can connect to.
ONYX Series Fire Alarm Control Panels
ONYX FACPs are the premier NOTIFIER® fire alarm system manager, specifically engineered for their environments and offering great flexibility, superior performance, and comprehensive fire protection. ONYX FACPs are fully addressable and can handle the largest number of addressable devices. For more information, check out the ONYX Series product page.
The NFS-320 and NFS-320R (Same as NFS-320 but in red enclosure) intelligent fire alarm control panels are part of NOTIFIER’s UL listed ONYX Series. It’s designed specifically for small applications with features that minimize installation time, enable faster response times, and simplify maintenance and usability.
The NFS2-640 intelligent fire alarm control panel is part of NOTIFIER’s UL listed ONYX Series. It’s designed specifically for mid-size applications, and easily expanded via NOTIFIER’s intelligent fire alarm network.
The NFS-320SYS intelligent Fire Alarm Control Panel is part of the ONYX® Series of Fire Alarm Controls from NOTIFIER. The panel can be configured with just a few devices for small building applications, or networked with many devices to protect a large campus or a high-rise office block.
The NFS2-3030 intelligent fire alarm control panel is part of NOTIFIER’s UL listed ONYX Series. The NFS2-3030 supports over 3,000 intelligent devices on ten Signaling Line Circuits, perfect for protecting large scale applications.
FireWarden Fire Alarm Control Panels
FireWarden is the mid-range series of fire alarm control panels offered by NOTIFIER®, used primarily for small and medium applications. FireWarden FACPs are a sort of middle ground between ONYX addressable systems and conventional FACPs, offering a single signaling line circuit on its loop but offering more customization and offering addressable device capacity. For more information, check out the FireWarden product line.
The FireWarden-50 (NFW-50, NFW-50R) is a UL listed addressable fire alarm control panel designed for smaller buildings requiring a minimal amount of initiating and notification devices. The FireWarden-50 programs just like FireWarden-100 products, yet fits into applications previously served only by conventional panels.
The FireWarden-100-2 (NFW2-100, NFW2-100R) is a UL listed addressable fire alarm control panel designed for applications requiring advanced addressable intelligence, flexible programming options, and robust power supply for driving horns, strobes, and auxiliary devices.
The NFW-50X comes with a pre-installed communicator and supports up to 50 addressable devices in any combination of detectors or modules. With an extensive list of powerful features, the NFW-50X programs just like FireWarden-100 products, yet fits into applications previously served only by conventional panels.
The FireWarden-100X (NFW-100X) is the latest intelligent addressable Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) within the FireWarden Series. The NFW-100X comes with a pre-installed communicator and supports up to 198 addressable devices (99 detectors and 99 modules).
Conventional Fire Alarm Control Panels
Conventional FACPs from NOTIFIER® are simpler than either ONYX or FireWarden FACPs, offering no addressable/intelligent device recognition. Conventional FACPs divide fire alarm systems and their associated devices into zones instead of making each device addressable, so you can only get an idea of the general area of a fire or other emergency rather than knowing the exact triggered device. You can see conventional fire alarm control panels on the NOTIFIER® product page.
RP-2001 is a UL listed six-zone fire alarm control panel for single and dual hazard deluge and preaction applications, providing fire detection, signaling and protection for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings requiring water-based releasing.
RP-2002 is a UL listed six-zone fire alarm control panel for single and dual hazard agent releasing applications, providing fire detection, signaling and protection for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings requiring agent-based releasing.
Popular NOTIFIER® Fire Alarm System Peripherals
The FACP may be the powerful brain of your fire alarm system, but like the human body, it can’t do much without properly functioning associated organs and limbs. Let’s take a look at some of the most common detection and notification peripherals keeping your fire alarm system firing on all cylinders. Before we do, remember you can see many NOTIFIER® peripherals on their website.
NOTIFIER offers a comprehensive line of intelligent, plug-in photoelectric smoke detectors, thermal heat detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and multi-sensor detectors for full coverage.
Bi-Directional Amplifiers improve signal coverage inside buildings and other structures with low transmission success to improve employee and visitor safety during an incident.
Annunciators provide more function to fire alarm systems, acting like a security system control panel to give the operator a wider variety of options and greater understanding of an incident. Annunciators can reset the system, perform drills, and may offer more information than a FACP.
System Sensor horns, strobes and horn/strobes provide application flexibility for multiple installations. Strobes and horn/strobes are ideal for warning hearing-impaired individuals during an emergency event.
Installing, Upgrading, or Retrofitting Your Fire Alarm System? Talk to Us.
Because fire alarm systems are generally built to code, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to what you’ll need to install. At BCI Integrated Solutions, we have the engineers and certifications necessary to design and install a fire alarm system that meets code requirements in your area, and the expertise to make installations as quick, painless, and unobtrusive as possible. Contact us today to discuss making improvements to your fire alarm system.