Exploring fire detection control and indicating equipment in your building’s fire protection system

Fire indication panels are an essential part of the fire protection system design for any building, as mandated by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).

For any building owners, managers or agents, understanding the fire indication panels in your property and how they protect against common fire causes is of enormous benefit.

Also known as Fire Indication Panels (FIPs), they are the central hub of your fire system and provide frequent monitoring for signs of fire. They also control connected fire detection devices like sprinkler systems and smoke alarms.

FIPs provide real-time information about fire alarms and empower swift response and efficient management of fire incidents that might occur.

In your role, you will likely have specific fire safety responsibilities. So while you don’t need to be an expert in fire protection (you can leave that to our team!), it does help to know how your fire indication panels function and how they operate effectively in conjunction with other systems in your building.

Hand touching button on Fire alarm control panel with Display message: Alarm active hall smoke

Fire indication panels 101

Fire indication panels serve as centralised command centres for the fire safety system of your building.

They receive signals from various fire detection devices, such as smoke detectors, heat detectors and manual triggers (like break glass units) and interpret those signals to identify crucial information, including where the trigger occurred.

Fire indication panels will then activate the appropriate alarms and communicate notifications to the necessary stakeholders like building management and emergency responders.

Typically, two different types of FIPs can be used in a fire system design. These are:

  • Conventional

Conventional FIPs monitor the ‘zones’ of a property or location. When triggered in a specific zone, the panel indicates which area of the property is experiencing the fire. Conventional fire alarms are great for smaller properties that may not have as many zones as larger buildings.

  • Addressable

Addressable fire indication panels are more complex than conventional panels. These systems provide displays on the inbuilt panel that show fire and essential service experts the exact location of the fire and which specific detector was triggered. Addressable alarms are ideal for properties like shopping centres, industrial facilities, hospitals, schools and other larger buildings.

In addition to these two main types, there are also other types of fire indication panels, such as:

  • Hybrid fire indication panels, which combine the features of conventional and addressable panels.
  • Wireless fire indication panels that use radio signals to transmit data between the detectors and the panel.
  • Networked fire indication panels, which are connected to a network and allow for remote monitoring and control.

The type of fire indication panel you’ll need will depend on specific factors such as the size and layout of your property, the potential hazards that have been outlined in a fire risk assessment any existing systems in place and any relevant code requirements that you must adhere to.

How do fire indication panels operate?

Fire indication panels operate using a series of interconnected processes that enable effective monitoring and control of fire detection devices.

While indication panels can differ depending on the type, their operation remains pretty similar. Here’s how it works:

Male Technician Checking Smoke Detector In Datacenter
  • Your panel will receive signals from fire detection devices triggered by smoke, heat, or manual activation.
  • It will then analyse and interpret the signals to identify the alarm’s location and type and map the alarm to specific zones or areas.
  • The panel then updates the display with information about the alarm and the triggered zone. This information can include the zone number, the type of alarm and the time the fire activated it.
  • The panel activates all alarms and visual indicators, like lights and sounds, to notify anyone in the area and prompt an evacuation.
  • The panel monitors the device status, detecting faults and sending notifications to all relevant stakeholders.
  • After the event, the panel will log alarm activations, faults and system data, making analysis, fire safety maintenance and regulatory fire compliance much more streamlined.

The timing for the above process varies, but the initial steps typically happen in as little as a few seconds. That speed is integral to ensuring the safety of your building’s occupants and the property itself.

Another factor to consider is any other building systems you’ll want to integrate your fire indication panel into, such as your Building Management System (BMS), security systems, video surveillance and communication interfaces to allow for easier remote monitoring and data reporting.

Integrating fire protection systems into your broader building system enhances overall fire safety by leveraging technology and improving the facilitation of coordinated responses.

Control panel display with error message

The backbone of your fire protection system

Fire indication panels form the backbone of your fire protection system. They provide real-time monitoring and control of fire alarm systems for both small and large-scale properties, increasing your chances of avoiding a severe event.

And with their integration capabilities and advanced communication interfaces, fire indication panels contribute to comprehensive building management and efficient emergency response.

Understanding how these panels work empowers you to be more confident that your fire systems are working correctly and supports you in maintaining compliance with fire safety regulations.

If you’re looking for more information on fire indication panels or fire protection systems, contact the experts at DEM Fire. We know fire and essential services.

Contact DEM Fire & Essential Services Group

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