Fire alarms have been around forever.
In fact, the first alarm was invented in 1852 by Dr. William F. Channing and Moses Farmer. Their fire alarm included two boxes, each containing a telegraphic key with a handle. When someone detected a fire, they would crank the handle, which would then relay the details of the fire alarm box number to a central alarm station. The operator at the station would receive the message, which would then be forwarded to the fire department.
Advances in technology have helped fire alarm systems:
- notify authorities quicker
- accurately detect non-visible, yet devastating gases
- notify the blind
- provide escape directions
Technology is great, huh?
Let’s dive into each of these fire alarm technologies and how they are helping our world become a safer place:
1) Fire alarm phone app notifications
If you are the building manager of ten apartment complexes, and one fire alarm panel has an alert, how long would it take you to get to the panel?
If it’s right next door, a few minutes? If it’s down the street, 10-15 minutes?
Or, if you can check the alert on your phone…just a few seconds!
Notifier has a System Manager App which can be installed on iOS or Android that can give you real-time fire panel alerts.
Instantly, you can call local authorities, or call the correct person who is needed to make a decision. When fires multiply in seconds, every moment counts.
2) Aspiration Detection
New to the fire alarm industry is Aspiration Detection. Aspiration Detection involves air sampling, over time, to see if there is a possibility of a dangerous environment. They are expensive, but these alarms can detect the difference between dust and smoke, making the system very accurate.
The Aspiration Detection system is only suitable in a worst-case scenario. Whereas the asset you are protecting is extremely valuable. Example assets would include IT data centers and computer rooms.
3) Carbon Monoxide Detection
Carbon Monoxide is very dangerous. Why? Because you can’t see it, you can’t smell it and it can kill you! Thus, restrictions for having a Carbon Monoxide detection system are tightening.
From a conversation I had with a staff engineer from the Ohio Board of Building Standards, the requirements for CO detection is dependent upon whether the building:
- Has a fuel-burning appliance
- A fuel-burning fireplace
- A fuel-burning forced air furnace
- Has an attached garage present in the building
There are other rules for nursing homes, but that’s a more technical conversation to be had with an official Ohio Department of Health staff member.
The key note here is that fuel-associated building are producing hazards that need to be monitored and detected…and more standards are being put in place to reinforce this.
4) Voice Evacuation Systems
Voice evacuation fire alarm systems are being used because:
- People with sight disabilities can hear the alert
- It’s an additional signal for anyone in general
- It’s a reminder of where to go (use stairs, not elevator, go to main lobby, etc.)
There are no negatives associated with using voice evacuation systems, so why not use them? Certainly, any additional way to alert people of an emergency AND guide them where to go, is going to increase the likelihood of a safe escape.
Fire alarm technology is exciting because it finds better ways to help save lives. However, with every new devastation, like the plant that recently exploded in Texas, you wonder how it could’ve been avoided. Fire alarm technology is becoming better. There may never be a fire-proof system, but technology is still moving toward a safer environment.