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We establish fire protection goals by referencing the minimum levels of protection mandated by the appropriate building code. Our fire alarm designer then details specific components, arrangements, and interfaces necessary to accomplish these goals. Equipment specifically manufactured for these purposes is selected and standardized installation methods are anticipated during the design. In the Cayman Islands, NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code is the established installation standard.

A typical fire alarm system has the following components:

  • Fire alarm control panel: This monitors inputs and system integrity, controls outputs and relays information.
  • Primary Power supply: This is the non-switched 120 or 240 Volt AC power source supplied from the power utility. In non-residential applications, a branch circuit is dedicated to the fire alarm system and its constituents.
  • Secondary (backup) Power supply: This commonly consists of sealed lead-acid storage batteries or other emergency sources including generators.
  • Initiating Devices: These components act as an input to the fire alarm control unit and are either manually or automatically actuated. Examples would be devices pull stations, heat detectors, or smoke detectors.
  • Notification appliances: This alerts people to the need to take action - usually to evacuate - by means of a flashing light, strobe light, electromechanical horn, bell, speaker, or a combination of these devices.
  • Building Safety Interface: This allows the fire alarm system to control aspects of the built environment. It prepares the building for the fire emergency and controls the spread of smoke fumes and fire by influencing air movement, lighting, process control, human transport and exit.

Initiating devices may be grouped as follows:

  • Manually actuated devices; e.g. fire alarm boxes, manual pull stations, break glass stations, call points or buttons. Devices for manual fire alarm activation, are installed to be readily located, identified, and operated.
  • Automatically actuated devices can take many forms intended to respond to any number of physical changes associated with fire e.g. thermal energy (heat detector, products of combustion); smoke detector; radiant energy (flame detector, combustion gasses); fire gas detector, and release of extinguishing agents (water-flow detector)

Some Fire Alarm Systems utilize Emergency Voice Alarm Communication Systems (EVACS) to provide pre-recorded and manual voice messages. Voice Alarm systems are typically used in high-rise buildings, arenas and other large "defend-in-place" occupancies where total evacuation is difficult to achieve. Voice-based systems provide response personnel with the ability to conduct orderly evacuation and notify building occupants of changing event circumstances. In high rise buildings, different evacuation messages may be played to each floor, depending on the location of the fire.

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