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Building Products October 2017

NEW-BUILD AND SOCIAL HOUSING best chance of escape. Wireless alarm interconnection has led to an increase in the number of alarms or accessories in one system. With a larger number of interconnected alarms per system and, in some cases with Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms included, it is important that a simple, convenient method of controlling all the alarms is adopted. Alarm Controllers provide a cost effective method of doing this from a safe, accessible location. The Controller should allow tenants to test and silence alarms on the system and locate the trigger alarm (essential if CO Alarms are included in the system as a resident needs to know what action to take). One of the latest developments in alarm technology is data extraction, which is the ability to quickly and easily retrieve useful and meaningful data from the alarm. I think this has the potential to become as popular as wireless alarm interconnection has. It Is definitely the rising star of the Smoke Alarm world! Smoke and CO Alarms have the potential to provide genuinely useful information. This could include battery life, alarm sensor status, number of times tested and any alarm activations with details of when it occurred. In the case of CO Alarms, this could go further with information on detection levels of CO during any activations or background CO. Mark Dale, Electrical Services Manager at Coast and Country Housing, sees data extraction technology of particular interest: “I can see it being useful as an aid to creating a more accurate response to a fault; it will provide us with an 22 BUILDING PRODUCTS | OCTOBER 2017 indication as to why that device might be sounding.” This positive reaction to this new alarm feature is widespread in social housing: “Our maintenance support team will be able to make use of the data retrieval technology as an extra tool, to help diagnose problems and give, where needed, extra support and advice at properties” states M&E clerk of works at Harrow Council. More recently, this data has extended to cover whole systems, providing access to data on, the number of devices on each system and their serial numbers, types of alarms, location of alarms and how long the alarm has been in operation. For larger systems (often in HMOs), this enables a history of alarm systems in individual dwellings to be created. Quite a few alarms in the market claim to provide the user with valuable data, but in some cases specialist (and therefore expensive) equipment is required to do this and the alarm itself may need to be removed from the property. Look for alarms that enable quick and simple data extraction that can be performed on site, in real time, without taking the alarm off the ceiling. There are different ways of doing this, such as enabling the data to be extracted via the Alarm’s sounder and a specialist App. It is now easier to connect Fire / CO Alarm systems to other systems; the most common being Telecare/Warden Call systems, Sprinkler systems and BS5839 Part 1 panel based Fire Alarm systems. The latter is particularly useful when that Part 1 panel based Fire Alarm system is fitted in the communal areas of HMOs and apartment blocks. In this instance the individual apartments would be fitted with a BS5839 Part 6 domestic Smoke Alarm system; if this is triggered it will only sound within that individual flat. To maximise safety and ensure the communal alarm can be heard within each property, it is beneficial to integrate the two alarm systems so that the Part 1 communal system will activate all alarms throughout the entire building if a fire is detected, but does not allow individual flats’ alarms to activate those in the communal areas or those within other tenant’s homes. Relays are one option for achieving this, but there are products in the market that have been designed specifically for this purpose which are better equipped to integrate these systems. Smoke Alarm features are changing at a relatively fast pace, but just because it is new does not always mean it is needed. Martyn Walley is National Technical Manager at Aico <<< Continued from page 21


Building Products October 2017
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