manual and automatic systems

What is a Fire Detection System?

A fire detection system is a fire alarm system that receives signals and responds to events generated by various inputs such as smoke and heat detectors. Fire detection systems are permanently installed and is made up by manual and automatic systems. Manual systems do not have any detectors and the system is triggered by manually activating a fire break glass unit. Automatic systems consist of manual devices but also detectors that automatically detect fires at an early stage and warn those affected. Both manual and automatic systems can be setup and configured to contact emergency services automatically.

When and why do you need a fire detection system?

The prevention of fire is a serious issue in South Africa, which has some of the highest number of fires in the world and cost companies millions every year. In an effort to combat this problem, it is now a legal requirement in South Africa as per (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 as stipulated by (SANS 10139). By having a fire safety policy and investing in a fire detection system for your building you do not only abide by the law, but also save lives and protect property by early detection and minimizing the devastating effects of a fire.

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Types of Fire Detection Systems

1. Addressable & Conventional Fire Detection Systems


Two types of fire detection systems are available: Addressable and Conventional.
With conventional systems devices are grouped together in a zone which is connected to the fire detection panel. When a device in a zone is triggered the exact location of the device is not known although the fire detection alarm panel will display the zone which consist of various devices. These systems are generally used for smaller low risk building applications.

With addressable fire detection systems each device has a unique address and the fire detection panel will display the exact device address which has been triggered. This saves precious time and helps response personnel to quickly determine the origin of the fire and reduces response times to extinguish a fire and prevent the loss of lives and damage to property.

Components of addressable and conventional Fire Detection Systems:
• Fire Detection Panel – main control panel which controls all the input and output devices
• Smoke Detectors
• Heat Detectors
• Beam Detectors – covers large areas such as warehouses
• Manual Call Points / Break Glass Units – manually activate the fire detection panel
• Audible Alarm / Sounders / Bells / Sirens
• Visual Strobe Lights
• Relay Output Modules – control 3rd party equipment such as smoke extract fans, lifts and air conditioning/fresh air supply systems
• Interface Input Modules – monitor 3rd party equipment such as sprinkler flow switches
• Door Hold Open Magnets – control fire escape doors in the event of a fire condition to isolate certain areas of a building

Please refer to the IntegraTek Fire Detection Design guide (Click Here)

2. Aspiration Fire Detection Systems

Fire Detection Systems

Aspirating Fire Detection Systems are used in environments where a more sensitive and sophisticated fire detection system is required. These systems are generally used in environments where normal detectors are not suitable, such as cold storage facilities. These systems are also more suited in areas with high levels of dust, exhaust fumes and other gasses.

Aspirating fire detection systems continuously sample air and detect smoke in a shorter time period compared to normal point detection fire systems.

A fire aspiration system consists of a network of pipes with inlet/sampling holes which is installed throughout the entire area that requires coverage. These pipes connect to an air sampling unit which acts as the control panel and is connected to the building’s main fire detection panel via interface input modules.

3. Gas Suppression Systems

Gas Suppression Systems

These systems leave no residue and is designed to protect areas which requires a quick reaction to extinguish a fire. These systems are best suited for server and computer rooms, libraries and museums where either high value equipment or items with historical value are to be protected. It is also used in areas where water and chemicals would likely cause damage to equipment or items of historical value.Systems are designed and based on the physical size of an area and the amount of gas/agent required to fill the area. It is also important to ensure that the area is sealed to prevent the gas from escaping the area. When some of the gas/agent escapes out of the enclosed area it reduces the concentration of the agent and it will not be able to extinguish a fire. To ensure the area is sealed adequately we offer room integrity testing to ensure that the fire suppression system will hold the concentration of agent as designed, to extinguish a fire.

Fire Detection Servicing

In accordance with South African regulations and SANS 10139:2012 a fire detection system must be serviced every 6 months. This is a compulsory and legal requirement in order to comply to regulations. All work and services must be recorded in a log book and signed off by a competent SAQCC certified fire detection technician/engineer.

Failure to comply to the regulations leaves the property owner/tenant liable for prosecution in the event of a fire. If a fire detection system was a prerequisite for insurance purposes and the system is not serviced and maintained accordingly it may result in the insurance company refusing a claim due to fire damages.

All our fire detection technicians/engineers are registered and certified by both SAQCC fire and PSIRA. We have inhouse SAQCC certified designers, installers and servicemen for both fire detection and gas suppression systems.

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