Signaling the Problem

Sometimes an automatic fire detector first detects the fire, as we have just discussed. Other times, a person is the first to notice the fire, and gives the alarm by using a pull station (Fig. 46-4) or telephone.

Manual fire alarm initiation stations must be placed i( in the normal path of egress to be used by a person exiting the building. Manual stations must be well marked and easily found. Do not place them in nooks, corners, or camouflaged cabinets to avoid spoiling the decor. Never paint over smoke detectors or other fire safety equipment, as this may hamper their effectiveness by keeping fusible links from melting.

New handicapped-accessible types of pull boxes are available that are actually pushed and that take minimal effort to operate. Both regular pull boxes and the newer accessible boxes must be red.

The architect or designer of the fire alarm system must ascertain which current regulations have jurisdiction before designing the system. The codes generally specify where manual or automatic fire signaling systems or fire alarm systems are required. The codes specify required systems and provide testing data. An electrical engineer will be involved in the design of an extensive fire alarm system.

With a protected premises fire alarm system, the alarm sounds only in the protected building. Protected premises systems are used for privately owned facilities. If a building were unoccupied, the fire department would be notified only if a passerby happened to report the fire.

An auxiliary fire alarm system is a local system with a direct connection to a municipal fire alarm box. Auxiliary systems are used in public buildings such as schools, government offices, and museums.

With a remote station protective signaling system, an alarm is transmitted via a phone line to a police facility or telephone answering system that is manned 24 hours a day. The notice is then phoned to the fire de-

Figure 46-4 Manual pull station.

Figure 46-4 Manual pull station.

partment. Remote station protective signaling systems are used for private buildings like offices and stores that are unoccupied for longer periods and where the owners don't want to rely on outside observers for notification.

Proprietary fire alarm systems are found in large, multibuilding facilities, like universities or manufacturing facilities. A visual display of the fire's location along with other information and a printed record is sent automatically to an on-site, manned central supervisory station that receives signals from all buildings in the system. The fire department is notified manually from the on-site station. The central station can also be used for security and other control functions.

A central station fire alarm system is like the proprietary system, but the system supervision and equipment is owned and operated by a service company. A central station supervises many individual, unrelated locations for a fee.

Fire alarm systems may have circuit supervision alarms that warn of malfunctions in the wiring of an alarm. The signal for this is separate and distinct from the alarm signal itself. Circuit supervision may be required by code, so that a single break in the alarm system will not prevent fire alarms from going off.

A public emergency reporting system may be located in key egress and public gathering areas. Building occupants report fire or police or medical emergencies to qualified operators within a facility, who then act to deal with the problem.

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