Building design

Building design is frequently found to be the cause of unwanted alarm activations.

This usually occurs when a fire alarm system is installed in the building with little or no planning for the activities of the occupants. It is better to address potential fire alarm problems before the building is commissioned or occupancy finalised.

Suggested building design strategies for reducing unwanted alarms:

  • At the planning stage research what type of system suits your needs. Some options for smoke detectors include aspirated, laser point, beam, video and photo optical. The latter option may be attractive as it is often less expensive to install, however in the long term, choosing a system that suits the occupational use of the building and does not generate unwanted alarms may be the most cost effective.
  • At the planning stage discuss tailoring the system design to the occupants needs instead of accepting a maximum coverage design (often chosen due to its ease of complying with all Standards).
  • Consider conducting a risk assessment of potential unwanted alarm problems with your fire maintenance company prior to occupancy.
  • For renovations of existing buildings, consult with the designer or building contractor and make changes to the existing fire alarm system if necessary.
  • Check to see if the floor plan layout has changed since the fire alarm system was originally installed.
  • Consider upgrading your fire alarm system, including alarm panels to optimum standards.
  • Upgrade buildings where poor internal and external plumbing design allows water penetration.
  • Upgrade building design and layout where there is inadequate airflow management.
  • Ensure that all appropriate signage is in place before the building is commissioned eg height restriction signs for carparks, no smoking signs and unwanted alarm prevention notices.