June 09 2023 0Comment

Basic Components of Commercial and Industrial Fire Alarm Systems

Article by Thomas Santo-Salvo – Fire Alarm Sales Specialist –

Life Safety can be a complicated topic when considering everything involved in protecting those we value. A Commercial Fire Alarm System is a critical part of any such Life Safety Plan, and is comprised of the following basic components:

Fire Alarm Control Panel

The FACP is the controlling component of any system. Day to day, it’s primarily receiving information from it’s various devices, and monitoring it’s own components’ integrity. If fire is detected, it also then initiates the required sequenced responses to prepare the facility for that event including reports to occupants and first responders.  Modern digital systems are easily programmed by facility zones and provide improved detail as to location. The FACP will also help with system maintenance and troubleshooting by monitoring itself for faults and providing specific “trouble” indication when detected.

Fire Alarm Control Panel

Initiating Devices

Are any manual or automatic device that detects fire or begins the process of recognizing and responding to an emergency condition.

Manual devices, such as pull stations, require a person to break glass or pull a lever to initiate the alarm.

Automatic devices, such as the typical smoke, gas, flame and heat detectors, can indicate the exact location of the emergency if addressable. There are many other types for specific needs and all will themselves initiate the required programmed responses.

Fire Alarm Pull Station.

Notification Devices

Are what informs building occupants and others of the fire or other emergency. Notification occurs as per your system’s programmed sequence, but may include audible and/or visual notification such as: chimes, bells, horns, strobes and horn/strobes. When voice notification is included, speakers replace the horns and may communicate specific instructions to facilitate any facilities unique evacuation or other requirements. Special speaker systems are available to overcome high ambient noise conditions, project the message over longer distances and outdoors, or other difficult discernibility challenges.

Fire Alarm Notification Device

Primary Power Supply

Typically a 120VAC dedicated supply(s) to the main FACP, this voltage is internally stepped-down to 12 and 24 V.

Back-Up Power Supply

Is a critical component that ensures the system will function even after a loss of primary power, with the ability to power the entire system for the required alarm time after a given stand-by interval. This supply will include a self-charger for the included batteries, and should monitor itself to ensure these components are operating properly. Battery size and type, whose determination is also an important part of the system design, is based on the needs of your system to power the unique list of monitoring, notification appliances, relays and initiating devices required for your facility and it’s code and other requirements.

Fire Alarm Battery

We hope this very basic description of the components of a commercial is helpful in setting out a system’s fundamental parts. Oliver Fire Protection & Security offers complete system design, and design/build capabilities with in-house engineering and inspection and 24/7 monitoring. Please contact us to learn more about our system solutions and ways to optimize your fire alarm systems function and reliability.