Your Fire Alarm Panel and You: What those Lights Mean, and What You Should Do

When it comes to making sure that your safety equipment and alarm systems are up to date and working properly, the best way for you to do that by getting started on how your fire alarm works.

Knowing the basics of your fire alarm system includes knowing the basics of the control or interface panel, such as troubleshooting pull stations and horns, and even disarming or disabling the panel in the case of an emergency or during regular maintenance checks.

What’s in Your Control Panel?
Your modern fire alarm system in Singapore is equipped with a number of smoke and fire detector systems capable of detecting smoke and heat coming off of small or large flames located near the sensors, all centrally connected to your control or interface panel. If you want to be familiar with the fire alarm system basics, it is encouraged to talk to your contractor.
But here are the following indicators you will find in your average alarm system’s interface panel for the zone control module:

• Disable – In the column labeled “disable”, you will see a switch (for disabling the zone) and the light beside the switch (that indicates if the circuit is open or is in a short fault condition)
• Fault – Seeing this light on means that there is a fault with the alarm system in a particular zone
• Fire – Seeing this light on means that the system is activated, and there is likely a fire
• Location – It’s important that you label these correctly in order to avoid confusion (this should be best left to the technicians who installed the alarm system)

Your zone control module is connected to your emergency alarm system control module, which in turn directly controls the alarms. In a system control module, these are the indicators that you would find:

• Power – This indicates that the system is currently energized
• Fire – Indicates that the system (alarms, sirens, and/or sprinklers may be included) is activated
• Fault – Indicates that there is a fault in the certain area in the alarm system
• Disabled – Indicates that the system is currently disabled
• System fault – Indicates a failure in the system’s programmable controller/s

If your alarm system utilizes a conventional configuration, you will also find auxiliary control modules and status indicator modules. The latter lets you know the state of the labeled modules, while the former allows you to disable the modules themselves.

In the case of false alarms, you can check these modules in order to disable the smoke detector in the specific zone.

In the event of maintenance checks to make sure your systems are working normally, you will also need to disable your fire sensors. Remember to refer to your manual when disabling heat sensor systems to avoid any accidents when doing so.

Alarm System Configurations
In general, you have the following types of alarm system configurations: the non-addressable (also known as the “conventional” alarm system), the addressable fire system, and the hybrid alarm system, which is a hybrid of the two.

Here they are in a nutshell:
• Non-addressable – Fire sensors are wired in groups and are labeled by “zones”, and the system only indicates events without recording them
• Addressable – Fire sensors can be given a specific address and system events can be indicated as well as recorded
• Hybrid alarm system – A hybrid system is a combination of the two

To know which type of system is best for your workplace, it’s important to talk to your alarm system technician about your office or workplace layout.

Auxiliary Fire Prevention Systems
While an early warning system is crucial in fire detection and prevention, it’s also just as important to keep an emergency system as a means of preventing a fire hazard outside of the main circuit.

Aside from a sprinkler system connected to your main alarms, you may also find the need for a fire extinguisher or two in an emergency glass, along with other tools, such as a fire axe or a fire blanket, in the case of certain fire or electrical hazards that are best handled this way.

Keep in mind that alarm systems can still be triggered by other factors aside from fire, such as tobacco smoke or high humidity, and you will need to deal with false alarms on a regular basis.

Depending on your alarm service provider and installer, these types of systems and control panels, models, and configurations can differ greatly, so be sure to talk to your manufacturer in Singapore and read the manuals carefully.