Every building faces the risk of a fire breaking out and putting people’s lives at risk so it’s important to have an early warning system in place to give staff and customers sufficient time to evacuate the building in a safe and timely manner. With such a system in place, lives are saved and on many occasions valuable equipment and property can be spared from destruction.
There are various components that make up an early warning system with one of the major components being the smoke/heat detection system. Smoke detectors are common (and required in most countries) throughout both industrial and residential buildings, and are designed to sound an alarm whenever a certain level of smoke is detected in the area. These are low cost but very effective.
Smoke and heat detectors can be wired in to an occupant warning system to provide the means for mass communication in the event of a fire. Systems are designed with sounders which can produce an amplified noise to alert all occupants that an emergency situation has transpired and they should evacuate the area or leave the building.
More sophisticated options for occupant warning systems may be incorporated into a public address system. This can provide substantial savings on cost as a separate PA system does not have to be installed and can be used to relay commercial messages or pipe music throughout the building. A typical warning system will not require such high fidelity speakers but when used as a dual-purpose public address system, the speakers should be able to produce higher fidelity sound for the comfort of staff and customers.
In the event of an emergency, the public address system can relay the emergency to all the occupants automatically or it can be relayed manually by an operator. Rack mount systems provide a convenient solution that is easy to maintain as these systems provide easy and quick access to the back of the device.
An occupant warning system should be easy to operate. As a result, most systems incorporate clearly marked and highly visible controls with many including the options for manual or automatic operation, or to isolate the system to perform repairs and test the unit.
All early warning systems should be supported by clearly marked signs leading to emergency exits. Regulations in most countries will require maps at key points throughout a building, clearly denoting all emergency exits in order to assist a timely evacuation.
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In many areas of the world the minimum protection against fire required by law is a workin