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Most people don’t think about fire alarms, fire detection systems, or fire protection when they enter a building, they just assume they’re safe and protected. However, buildings don’t just happen to be inherently safe. Years of study and diligent work have been dedicated by expert committees who update evolving building codes due to changes in construction materials and practices.

Fire alarm systems and control panels are evolving too. New state of the art electronic designs and technologies have a huge impact in saving lives. The original fire alarm systems were very basic using pull boxes, bells and heat detectors; they had no ability to sense smoke nor work once the power went out. All fire alarm systems manufactured today have to pass stringent third party laboratory tests (typically Underwriters Laboratories) to meet minimum standards. Recent technology advances to fire alarm systems include individual smoke detector sensitivity adjustment, drift compensation, and maintenance indicators. Such features reduce false alarms and, at the same time, shorten the time it takes sensors to detect actual fires. They can detect microscopic smoke particles, sense carbon monoxide, feel heat, learn their environment and compensate for regular environment changes. All of this is constantly monitoring in the background, and it protects lives by activating audio-visual alerts, controlling fans, integrating with elevators and contacting the fire department when necessary.

The use of these so-called “smart systems” is being extended to buildings of all sizes as fire protection professionals come to understand the benefits they can provide in small, midsize and large buildings.

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