Since the introduction of conventional ﬁre alarms we have had a number of advancements within the ﬁre industry such as addressable and, more recently, wireless systems. Conventional systems offer basic alarm indication by displaying the event of a ﬁre as a zonal LED on the front of the panel which corresponds to the ﬁre’s location. Parameters of a maximum of 2,000 square metres per zone were set according to the British BS5839 standard so there was a limited area in which the ﬁre could be located.
With the introduction of addressable systems came the advantage of knowing the exact location of where a ﬁre had been detected. This has been made possible due to each device incorporating its own identiﬁcation or address meaning devices could be labelled within the panel and displayed by LCD on the front of the panel. Programmability was also introduced to give further options of cause & effect. Now, should a speciﬁc device go into alarm, any number of outputs can be triggered allowing for phased evacuation, or the investigation of a possible ﬁre, before a full evacuation is undertaken.
Addressable fire alarm systems were designed to be wired in loops, instead of the radials of conventional systems, allowing you to place your detectors, sounders and interfaces on the same pair of wires for all zones. This made installations quicker with some manufacturers calculating an approximate 40% reduction in the amount of cable required compared with a conventional equivalent.
Of course with these advancements came extra costs along with technical requirements in order to set the system up leaving many installers reluctant to use this technology.
Over recent years manufacturers have worked and developed addressable systems to drive down the cost and reduce the technical barriers which put off many installers.
Whilst the beneﬁts of addressable systems were apparent, installers now needed laptops, software and in many cases special panel interface leads just to set up a system. This was in stark contrast to simply running cables and ﬁtting an end of line device which they were used to.
Zeta Alarm Systems released their Simplicity range of addressable panels which changed this. Now an addressable system could be setup entirely from the panel itself with very few programming steps. devices were automatically allocated into various zones simply through which address there given and device descriptions entered via an on panel keyboard.
It is certainly true today that an addressable smoke detector will be signiﬁcantly more expensive compared with it’s conventional counterpart but this difference is far smaller than even 5 years ago. Given labour is typically the most expensive aspect of any new installation in the UK the aforementioned savings in cable and therefore labour often result in a net saving against the higher equipment costs.
From our experience we now see a huge rise is addressable systems being used for smaller installations where typically they were previously only used for larger ones.