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5 Main Parts of a Fire Alarm System

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Fire Alarm Pull Station

When you think about Fire Alarms, most think about the pull stations, strobes, and horns that are clearly visible in buildings. However, they actually comprise of much more than what immediately comes to mind. Fire Alarm systems are complex systems that are closely monitored and regulated and its parts can be broken down into 5 basic categories.

Initiating Devices

These devices, which fall into two categories, are the first step in activating any fire alarm. They send signals to the control panel, initiating the system's programming.

Manual - Initiating devices that can be manually activated in case of fire such as glass break stations, buttons, and pull stations. They are always easily identifiable and simple to operate.

Automatic - Initiating devices that are triggered automatically when they sense a change in the enviroment. These are devices such as smoke detectors, heat sensors, and fire sprinkler waterflow switches.

Notification Devices

These devices serve to notify building occupants when the alarm is activated. Both visual indicators such as flashing strobe lights and auditory devices such as horns, voice evacuation speakers, bells, and chimes are used, often together.

Control Panel

The Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) acts as the brain of the system. It monitors all devices and sends or receives the necessary signals. For example, initiating devices, when triggered, send signals to the FACP which then signals the notification devices and notifies the 24-hour monitoring center. The control panel also monitors alarm system parts for proper function and any issues or faults within the system will display on the panel.

Primary Power Supply

Supplied by your power company, typically in 120V A/C power sources.

Backup Power Supply

A secondary power supply serves to keep your fire alarm system operational in the event of primary power failure and typically uses 12 V batteries.


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