Reducing nuisance alarms

Aico reports on the different types of alarms and how dust compensation can drastically reduce nuisance alarming

Nuisance alarms continue to be a problem that all of our customers want to avoid. They are responsible for the loss of time and money but can also result in tenants and homeowners ignoring their alarms when they sound and subsequently not evacuating as they should. Therefore reducing nuisance alarms as much as possible needs to be a priority.

There are a number of ways in which you can start to address this problem. An informed selection and siting of sensors is crucial towards reducing nuisance alarms. There is also technology available which can vastly reduce nuisance alarms caused by contaminated alarms – Dust Compensation. This paper explores the different types of alarms and how Dust Compensation can drastically reduce nuisance alarming.

It is important to understand that not all smoke alarms are the same, for a start there are multiple sensor types, for example Optical and Heat, each one suitable for certain rooms types or environments. Then there are Multi-Sensor alarms, with different combinations of single sensors found within one alarm. There is also the technology and software alongside the sensor within the alarm, which has an equally important role to play; this arguably has a greater scope for progression as we continue to push technology further.

Photoelectric smoke alarms, more commonly known as Optical Sensor smoke alarms, detect the scattering of light by smoke particles. This provides a far more accurate indication of how much smoke is present than Ionisation type smoke alarms.

Optical and Multi-Sensor alarm types are recommended by the British Standard BS 5839-6:2019 for circulation areas and principal habitable rooms. Optical and Multi-Sensor alarms are also the alarm types most used by our customers due to their resilience to nuisance alarms and flexibility for siting.

Using Optical and Multi-Sensor alarms immediately reduces the potential for nuisance alarms when compared to Ionisation alarms. However, Optical and Multi-Sensor alarms can still suffer from contamination and this could impact on the sensitivity of the alarm over time. Independent research recently conducted by BRE into the longevity of smoke alarms highlighted that the sensitivity of optical alarms tended to drift as the alarm aged. When it is considered that most domestic alarms now have a life span of ten years, and many domestic alarms never get serviced, then the build-up of contamination within the alarm sensors can be a genuine issue.

To resolve this issue, Aico alarms feature a Dust Compensation feature which automatically compensates for the build-up of contamination over time. This is achieved by using software which continuously monitors and adjusts the sensitivity trigger point (gain) over the life of the alarm keeping the same level of sensitivity despite the build-up of contamination. If the alarm ever reaches a point where the contamination is too great to compensate for, then the alarm will alert the occupant by way of an amber LED flash and chirp. At this point, the occupant can use a vacuum cleaner to simply clear the contamination and debris from the alarm unit and the software will automatically recalibrate the sensitivity of the alarm.

It is incredibly rare that our alarms ever reach the point where intervention is required, but alarms without the Dust Compensation feature might otherwise need to be replaced. The more common scenario is that alarms without Dust Compensation become more sensitive over time which increases the chances of nuisance alarming.

Both the Ei650 battery powered Optical smoke alarm and the Ei3000 range of mains powered Optical and Multi-Sensor alarms feature the Dust Compensation feature. Our customers now rely on this technology and choose alarms with this feature to reduce the costs associated with alarm replacement, maintenance call outs and for alarms in challenging environments.



FTSE 250 tech-firm chooses Advanced Fire Protection for its UK headquarters

A network of fault-tolerant MxPro 5 fire panels from Advanced have been installed at the UK headquarters of Computacenter

As a leading independent provider of IT infrastructure services, having robust fire protection measures in place at Computacenter’s UK logistics and distribution centre is crucial to ensuring smooth operations.

As part of a fire system upgrade and move towards a more open-style protocol, Advanced was selected as the preferred solution at Hertfordshire-based Computacenter’s headquarters which, at over 220,000 square feet, are some of Europe’s largest and most sophisticated purpose-built warehousing and operations facilities.

Advanced partner, Controlled Ltd, was responsible for the complete replacement of the fire system, including installation, configuration and commissioning of one 8-loop, one 5-loop and two 1-loop MxPro 5 panels that form the core of the site’s active fire protection. Controlled Ltd integrated the new Advanced control panels alongside several third-party systems in the warehouse and operations building, including auto conveyors, sprinklers, gas suppression, aspirator systems and fire doors and shutters.

Neil Bain, Director at Controlled Ltd, said: “In selecting new fire protection equipment for the upgrade to Computacenter’s headquarters, we chose Advanced because we were confident that it would offer the most flexible, effective and reliable solution for the job. Advanced panels are easy to use for both installers and operators and their technical support team is always efficient and informative.”

In order to introduce the open protocol Advanced fire system, Controlled Ltd had to install a temporary wireless solution until they were ready to conduct a phased changeover of loops, wiring and installation of new devices. With the control and indicating equipment now in place, Computacenter have the option to install graphical mapping and front-end monitoring software to improve visibility of the status of the fire system across the site.

Jim Brown, Building Services Supervisor at Computacenter, said: “As part of an extensive overhaul of the fire alarm system in our operations centre, Controlled Ltd installed a temporary fire alarm system to work alongside the existing alarm system which was being upgraded to Advanced. This has worked very well with little disruption as progressively each loop has come online. The fact that they have successfully undertaken this work in what is essentially a manned site 24 hours a day is impressive, as is their ability to offer workable solutions to problems encountered, on time and on budget.”

Amanda Hope, UK Business Development Manager, said: “Our panels are installed within commercial premises across the world, protecting people, prestigious properties and strategic assets. For Controlled Ltd, our MxPro 5 fire panels offered the versatility and ease of use required to ensure a painless upgrade to Computacenter’s fire system – this is an area where our products excel so it’s great to have been able to support them with the equipment required for this project.”

The MxPro 5 is the unbeatable multiprotocol fire system. Approved to EN54-2, 4 & 13, it offers four protocols – Apollo, Argus, Hochiki and Nittan – and a completely open installer network that benefits from free training and technical support. Panels can be used in single-loop, single-panel format or easily configured into high-speed, 200-panel networks covering huge areas. MxPro 5 panels are backwardly compatible with existing MxPro 4 networks and include a host of features including AlarmCalm for complete false alarm management and reduction.

Advanced, owned by FTSE 100 company Halma PLC, protects a wide range of prestigious and high-profile commercial and manufacturing sites across the globe – from leading eyewear manufacturer Luxottica in Milan, to Hitachi Rail Europe’s facility in County Durham and the £134 million Condor House in London.

Halma is a global group of life-saving technology companies with a clear purpose to grow a safer, cleaner, healthier future for everyone, every day.

Advanced is a world leader in the development and manufacture of intelligent fire systems. Advanced’s reputation for performance, quality and ease of use see its products specified in locations around the world, from single-panel installations to large, multi-site networks. Advanced’s products include complete fire detection systems, multiprotocol fire panels, extinguishing control, fire paging and false alarm management systems.

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