Fire alarm systems are ideally positioned to offer the best value and most efficient implementation of emergency communications. Not so long ago bells, horns, and sirens alerted building occupants to danger. More recently, pre-recorded broadcasts and flashing strobes provided warning. Today a new solution is emerging; a solution that takes into account the intensifying nature of threats and the increasing complexity of built space.
While fire alarm and emergency communications address different kinds of dangers, they share similar objectives.
Fire is a specific threat that usually has a single point of origin from which it spreads. Fire alarm systems are designed to manage building evacuations based on this scenario, and may incorporate the use of voice audio communications in many facilities.
Emergency communications, on the other hand, deals with different threats. It acknowledges that building evacuation isn’t always the best solution in the face of coordinated terrorist attacks, or sweeping risks from chemical spills, or all-encompassing dangers of natural disasters. These situations require different management strategies that take a multidimensional approach.
While fire alarm and emergency communications systems appear to serve different purposes, they both share a common goal – to warn people of danger and provide them with information they need to stay safe. More importantly, fire alarm and emergency communications share a need for the same basic equipment and other requirements including: recorded and live messages, HVAC control, integrity monitoring, routine maintenance, and agency listings.
Emergency communications requires the system to manage information and provide a coordinated response that takes in the full 360-degree view of an unfolding situation. From smoke detectors and fire doors to motion sensors and CCTV cameras, information needs to be gathered – and processed intelligently – in order for an effective response strategy to be executed. Leveraging existing equipment such as command and control interfaces, speakers and strobes, leads to an effective means of response in the face of real danger.
Adapted from SDT