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What is a Fire Alarm Panel?

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  • Written By: Patrick Roland
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Business and home fire protection is serious business, and various fire alarm systems have unique control panels. Responsible for monitoring fires, measuring integrity and supplying power to the detectors, a fire alarm panel is a crucial component of the system. Panels come in four types, each serving a specific system. Coded, conventional, multiplex and releasing panels are found on nearly every professional fire alarm system.

The coded fire alarm panel is thought to be the oldest type of alarm control system, originating in the late 1800s. These massive panels frequently took up entire walls and functioned thanks to a series of code wheels attached to the fire alarm. They operate by alerting people of fires in different series of coded bell rings, usually in a series of threes. For example, a ringing pattern of three chimes at three intervals is decoded to send a specific message about which sector a fire is in.

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A conventional fire alarm panel is more modern, eschewing the bell system for light-emitting diode (LED) lights that indicate where a potential fire is taking place. These commercial fire alarm panels operate on a series of circuits attached to smoke sensors that send a signal to the lights when the sensors are tripped. Traditionally, the LED lights are intertwined with a map of the property to alert where the fire is occurring. These panels are used primarily for a small fire alarm system, such as in a store or a restaurant.

A multiplex fire alarm panel works for systems installed in large office buildings or complexes. Its technology is not much different from that of a conventional system but covers a wider scope and provides greater control over non-fire elements. These circuits can alert people to locations of fires but also can control door locks, temperature and security. These panels, with the added options, function as a sort of central nervous system for a building.

The fourth type of fire alarm panel is a releasing panel. These are used not only to alert that a fire is present but also to fight it. The sensors are connected to a panel that automatically emits a fire-fighting chemical agent in the affected area. These panels come with safety precautions, such as operation aborting switches to shut off the emission in case of a mistaken alarm.

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