Fire alarm control panels (FACP) are systems, which receive information from input devices (smoke detectors, heat detectors, etc.), process the information, and trigger an output device (audio or visual alarm). A conventional control panel is an alarm system that can only detect on/off signals. Conventional systems use separate wiring circuits called zones to relay information to the panel regarding the condition of the initiating devices. The panel monitors the condition of the detection devices throughout the whole system, with separate zones used to help pinpoint the location of the alarm. These systems allow the use of inexpensive detection devices and fire alarm control panels. An addressable control panel is a system using a signaling technique, which allows a control unit to identify a specific initiating device or group of devices by location.
Conventional fire alarm control panels are often specified by the number of zones or alarm points covered by the FACP. Zones are groups of initiating devices wired on a common circuit (signaling line circuit). Each wiring circuit is used to relay information to the panel regarding the condition of the initiating devices, which can include smoke, heat, or fire detectors, manual pull stations or any circuit closure device.
Addressable fire alarm control panels, or intelligent fire alarm control panels, usually specify the number of detectors and modules that will be operated by the FACP. This is the same as the number of addressable devices. These are separate circuits or paths directly connected to a notification appliance.
Secondary applications for fire alarm panels include: security, burglary / theft, machine failure or malfunction, medical, process control panels (such as: heat and temperature, power and power surge, computer systems, gas monitoring, and water level and leak monitoring), power distribution, personal safety monitoring, smoke, structural failure, or other unlisted, specialized, or proprietary applications.
Fire alarm control panels may have a long list of specialty features which may include (but are not limited to): acknowledge or silence, back-up batteries, built-in printer, data storage, explosion-proof housing, pre-alarm, intrinsically safe (IS) operation, a paging system for voice evacuation, modular construction, outdoor ratings, fire alarm control panels with a PC interface, programming options, remote telephone interface, submersible ratings, volume control adjustments, or web enabling.
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Audible alarms provide an audible indication of a hazardous situation.
Warning lights provide a visual indication of a hazardous situation.