A graphic uplift to your fire panel
The concept of displaying and interfacing fire detection systems on a PC superimposed on a picture map of the premise is certainly not a new one. It has long been considered benficial to have fire and fault indications appear on a map which makes locating problems easier for the end user. Control rooms with giant screens showing all the building services could well be working along side traditional bells and speakers sooner than you realise.
With the internet age it’s becoming increasingly common for system integration companies to be able to develop their own apps and interfaces. Graphics packages have improved significantly and produce very professional results to a skilled programmer.
Repeater panels are getting more aesthetically pleasing, with slimer profiles and touch screens. A number of manufacturers have developed repeater panels that can display the panel alarms and functions combined with map images. As these specific products have been EN54 part 2 approved as fire control displays they are an excellent opportunity to replace the repeater display and the graphical PC with state of the art touch screens.
In line with SANS10139 (BS5839) the standard PC interface cannot replace the panel or repeater display as it will not comply with EN54-2. Waiting for windows updates and machines that could be infected with software viruses don’t meet the stringent requirements for Fire Detection Control and Indicating Equipment. However, there is no issue in having the graphics as a supplementary interface.
Most modern Fire Alarm Panel manufacturers offer their own graphical user interface software. The main advantages offered by using the manufacturers specified software is that commands from the PC can be sent back to the panel. This enables resetting, silencing or disabling devices on the panel from the screen.
Fire Alarm Panels generally also offer serial interfaces for connection to BMS systems. Enabling this provides the end user a greater range of software programs and the ability to have a single monitoring interface for a variety of building systems, from security to aircondition. The main limitation with using these interfaces is that although the fire panel will send all it’s information to the screen, fires, faults and status changes etc, interfacing back to the panel requires expensive programming and SDK integration. That said, in many instances, displaying the live status is all that is needed.
These new innovations now give the end user a plethora of choice of how they would like their fire detection system displayed. Webpage technology further opens up the opportunity for having bigger, better, world wide interaction. Graphical interfaces can be on giant screens, showing outputs from locations across the world. Panel information and status updates can be seen on webpages that display on your cell phone or tablet while you’re on the move.
Many manufacturers have already launched basic app interfaces for their panels, but it will soon be a defacto standard. The functionality of remote control will always be limited by the standards. Understandably it’s not desirable to have alarms and evacuations initiated by anything other than onsite inputs. However there is still value in getting live status updates.
While progress in the fire industry always feels a bit slower, due to the lag in getting life safety approvals, supplementary services can give the progressive installer a real value add. Artistic graphics and proactive updates can lift the standard fire panel installation from the commodity market and make it a desirable must have building management feature.