Demand for reliable fire-detection systems is growing worldwide, with an estimated compound annual growth rate in the order of 7%, as a result of stricter fire-safety regulations, as well as increased public awareness and user requirements. Moreover, the ever-increasing demand for building automation leads to further growth in the fire-detection-systems sector, while uncertainty about wireless protocols will not allow for expansion to the Internet of Things (IoT) in the near future. The United States remains the key driver of trends and requirements in fire-detection systems due to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code but also due to the differentiated implementation of this code by Gulf countries that are heavily engaged in construction activities.
Modern trends and developments in fire-detection systems on a global scale are based on three pillars: sensors, signage and communication.
In the field of sensors, the most important development has been the addition of combined visible smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) sensors to the NFPA code. The use of CO as a means of fire detection results in fewer false alarms in systems, with the added benefit of the ability to detect gas in a large range of facilities. Characteristically, the NFPA has now incorporated the CO detection regulation into the overall framework of the NFPA 72 fire-detection regulation. An additional development concerns the NFPA requirement, dating from 2019, that smoke detectors should satisfy two additional tests in order to be certified according to UL 217 and UL 268. The first test concerns the detection of fire from flaming polyurethane, while the second concerns false alarms resulting from cooking activities, such as frying. In this way, the NFPA incorporates the most recent developments in construction and insulation materials, which have changed since the 1970s when the original standards were adopted.
In the signage field, the most significant trend in recent years has been the integration of voice evacuation systems with fire-detection systems. This specific trend was first seen in nursing homes and hospitals but is gradually appearing in more and more types of facilities, with a particular focus on large single-storey buildings such as supermarkets and shopping malls. In general, the market is moving towards the greatest possible degree of system integration, with the ultimate aim of integrating fire detection, evacuation, public announcements and background music functions into a single system. Moreover, safety lighting has started to become integrated in fire-detection systems through dynamic exit signage technology. This essentially refers to safety lights that change depending on the commands received by the fire-detection systems, leading people in the building in a specific direction, preventing them from using escape routes that are in flame.
Developments in the field of communication between the fire-detection system and the central Building Management System (BMS) are moving at a slower speed, since the systems must first satisfy the local Fire Protection Codes. Furthermore, the existence of many communication protocols poses increased demands on manufacturers, which leads to increased costs for the end user. However, apart from the communication between fire-detection systems and building management systems, there is also the framework of communication between the fire-detection subsystems and the main panel that needs to be addressed.
Another factor that determines the development of fire-detection systems is legislation, in the form of standards and certifications. No fire-detection system can be sold globally unless it complies with specific standards, whether these are NFPA or EN 5, and this compliance is certified by a designated and reliable certification body.
Keeping in line with the trends mentioned above, Olympia Electronics, in its turn, invests in the integration of its fire detection and lighting systems under a new, single operating concept. The new generation of fire-detection panels offers enhanced interconnection capabilities with Building Management Systems (BMS) through the Olympia Gateway, while the development of dynamic signage lights has also begun. Moreover, processes are in place for integration with the new generation of Voice Evacuation Fire Panels as well as with the new control panel of addressable lights offered by Olympia Electronics. This will lead to a single ecosystem that can fully meet the security needs of any modern building, while the company’s cybersecurity expertise, thanks to the manufacture of the wireless safety lighting system, constitutes a strong legacy for the future.
For more information, go to www.olympia-electronics.com