Fire Detection Systems
Fire safety is a serious issue in South Africa, which has some of the highest number of fires in the world and cost companies millions of rand a year. In an effort to combat this problem, it is now a legal requirement in South Africa (SANS 10400 – section: 4.31.2) for all buildings that exceed 30m in height (approx 10 floors), or contain any floor exceeding 5,000m2, to be equipped with a fire detection system. The system must also be designed, installed and maintained by competent persons (SANS 10139). By having a fire safety policy and investing in a fire detection system you not only abide by the law, but can also save your company and employees from becoming another statistic.
What is a Fire Detection System?
A fire detection system (sometimes called a fire alarm system) is an system of integrated fire detection devices controlled from a central control panel. Smoke and heat detectors are effective at alerting people in the immediate vicinity of where the smoke is detected. However, only a fire detection system will alert people throughout your entire building, giving them enough time to get to safety. The system can also be setup to summon emergency services and broadcast emergency evacuation messages.
Addressable & Conventional Fire Detection Systems
There are two types of fire detection systems available – addressable and conventional. Addressable systems monitor the specific location of each device (eg smoke detector, call point or sounder). It means in the event of a fire or other emergency you know exactly where the problem is. This saves precious time and helps emergency services to quickly extinguish the fire and prevent serious damage. With a conventional system you can only determine the problem is in a general area, so they are only suited for small sites.
Components of a Fire Detection System
Fire detection systems vary greatly, depending on the specific challenges faced by a business. At IntelliSEC we can design and install a bespoke system made up of the following items:
- Smoke Alarm / Smoke Detectors – Can operate independently or part of a fire detection system. We offer a wide variety which include ionization, dual optical and optical (also called photoelectric) smoke detectors. We do not recommend battery operated, wireless smoke detectors are they are not compliant with SAQCC regulations
- Heat Detectors – a very efficient device at detecting temperature increases caused by fires. Highly recommended for places with a lot of non-smoke gases eg car exhaust fumes and chemical fumes.
- Call Points / Fire Boxes – Manually operated buttons (see image above left). Used to trigger the fire alarm
- Fire Panel (pictured below left) – Controls and monitors the entire fire detection system from one location.
- Fire Alarm / Sounders / Bells / Sirens – Provides an immediate audio alert to any fire out breaks.
- Fire Strobe Light – Provide an instant visual alert and highly effective at directing personnel to the nearest fire exit.
- Gas Suppression systems – Quickly extinguishes all types of fire. Used in areas where water and chemicals would likely cause damage. Recommended for offices, server rooms and places where delicate or valuable objects are stored.
- Optical Beam Detection / Smoke Detection Beams (pictured below right) – Can detect smoke in large areas. It can differentiate smoke from exhaust fumes and other chemicals. Recommended for underground car parks, garages and chemical and petrochemical facilities
- Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors – CO is a poisonous gas that is completely colourless, tasteless and odourless. Our detectors can save the life of your employees and customers
- Automatic Fire Curtains – Seals off an area to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading into other areas.
- Voice Evacuation System – broadcasts prerecorded messages over the buildings PA system. Informs personnel what event has happened and directs them to safety.
Fire Aspiration System
For clients looking for a more sensitive, more sophisticated fire detection system we recommend a fire aspiration system. Unlike a fire detection system which waits for smoke or heat to reach its sensors, a fire aspiration system continuously sucks air past its sensors (see image below left) and can detect a fire within seconds of it starting. A fire aspiration system can also operate in more locations than a standard fire detection system, such as in places with high levels of dust/dirt, exhaust fumes and other gases.
A key component of the fire aspiration system is a network of pipes with inlet/sampling holes, that need to be installed throughout the entire area that requires coverage (see image below right). As such a fire aspiration system is considerably more expensive than a standard fire detection system. At IntelliSEC we can integrate separate fire aspiration and fire detection systems together, making it more cost effective for our clients.
Fire Detection System Servicing
Please be aware that in accordance with South African regulation SANS 10139:2012 your fire detection system must be serviced every 6 months. This is a compulsory, legal requirement and the service must be recorded in a log book and signed off by a certified fire technician. Failure to comply leaves the owner liable for prosecution in the event of a fire. It can also result in your insurance company refusing to settle any claim.
Legally Compliant Systems
At IntelliSEC we also only use safety and emergency equipment from leading manufacturers like Ziton, Vesda from Xtralis, Technoswitch, Bosch, Aritech, Honeywell and Fire Beam. These systems conform to the SANS 10139 standard and have proven to be stable and reliable in the most demanding of environments. We also have experience in installing fire detection systems in a wide variety of industries. This enables us to understand your specific legal and technical requirements eg the systems we install at hospitals also need to conform to SANS 322.
All our fire detection technicians are registered and fully certified by both the PSIRA and the SAQCC Fire. These associations have recognised us as an authorised designer, installer and servicer of fire detection systems. This allows us to fully certify the systems, enabling our clients to obtain discounted business insurance premiums.
Finally we have branches in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth. This enables us to support you no matter where in South Africa you are located.