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Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm Systems

With the ever-growing number of high-rises and complex structures, the need for advanced, reliable and efficient fire detection and alarm systems cannot be overstated. Fire detection and alarm systems not only protect property but more importantly, save lives by giving people crucial time to escape from danger. It is a well-regulated sector, and it must adhere to specific Australian standards and regulations to ensure optimal safety.

The Australian Standard AS 1670.1 is the relevant guideline for fire detection and alarm systems. This Standard outlines the minimum requirements for the design, installation, and commissioning of fire detection and alarm systems in buildings and facilities. If your building requires a system like this it is likely you will see it listed on your Annual Fire Safety Statement.

A typical fire detection and alarm system includes manual call points (also known as breakglasses), smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire alarm control panels, and auditory and visual signalling devices. The system must be designed and installed to provide early detection of a fire, notify occupants, and in some cases, control other fire protection systems like fire suppression systems and HVAC systems.

AS 1670.1 also mandates that fire detection and alarm systems must be designed to account for the type and use of the building. For example, a residential building will have different fire detection and alarm requirements than an industrial facility. The system must be designed to provide the necessary level of protection considering the inherent risks and fire load of the building.

To comply with Australian standards, fire detection and alarm systems should be regularly tested and maintained to ensure they are always operational. The Australian Standard AS 1851 sets out the requirements for the routine servicing of fire protection systems and equipment, which includes fire detection and alarm systems.

The standard outlines the procedures for inspection, testing, preventive maintenance, and survey procedures. The frequency of routine servicing (inspection, testing, preventive maintenance and surveys) is typically monthly, six-monthly and yearly, depending on the specific elements of the system.

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) also outlines requirements for fire detection and alarm systems in the National Construction Code (NCC). The NCC requires automatic fire detection and alarm systems in certain types of buildings such as residential care buildings, accommodation buildings, hospitals, and assembly buildings.

Fire detection and alarm systems are a critical part of a comprehensive fire safety strategy, and it is crucial for all stakeholders to understand and comply with Australian Standards and other applicable regulations. Working with certified professionals ensures that systems are correctly designed, installed, and maintained, and that they will function effectively in case of a fire emergency.