CHECKING PROPERTY LOSSES BY AUTOMATIC ALARM SUPERVISION
Description of Systems Required by the Canadian Board of Fire Underwriters for Supervisory Alarms
BY automatic supervision I mean a system that not only sends in an alarm in case of fire but supervises itself as well. By this I mean that if any part of the system gets out of order it sends in its own trouble signal. It is not dependent on the Fire Department testing it out once a week and then perhaps having it go out of order an hour afterwards. I am not telling any secret when 1 mention that the inspectors of the C.F.U.A. in making an inspection in one city a little over a year ago found six bells connected from sprinklered plants to the Fire Department inoperative. These were not supervisory systems and had nothing to show they were out of order. .
In cities large enough to maintain private Central stations all signals and alarms go to that station. Fire alarms are transmitted instantly to the Central Station and the hire Department. In smaller cities supervisory systems are used in which the fire alarm and trouble signal go direct to the Fire Department.
Systems Required by Canadian Underwriters
I am going to explain the types of systems required by the Canadian Board of Fire Underwriters. It is generally conceded that the automatic sprinkler is the most efficient means available for protecting property from fire.
The next thing is to keep the water damage as small as possible. The supervisory system does this by promptly notifying the Fire Department.
Just what is a supervisory system. In addition to sending in a fire alarm caused by water flowing from a sprinkler, the system must have signals to show when a line is broken or grounded. There must be a gate valve closed when the water or air pressure is low. If there is a gravity tank, there must be a low water level and a low water temperature.
There must be a provision for a trouble signal for showing if the storage battery is run down or the case broken.
I am not going to tell how all these things work, hut I want to emphasize the big difference between a supervisory’ system and a set of open circuit bells such as are found in most of the Fire Departments in Ontario.
You never know about these open circuit bells—they are generally’ tested out on Monday mornings and they generally’ are all right. Are you sure that they are all right until the next Monday morning?
Would you know it if a line broke or a fuse blew? They would then be inoperative. Is such a system safe enough to report fires?
I have spoken about sprinklered buildings and it is not generally known that supervisory alarms can be installed in buildings that are not sprinklered. These, of course, will do nothing to control the fire as the sprinkler does, hut will promptly report the fire.
Canadian Automatic Fire Alarm Systems
Automatic fire alarm systems installed in Canada consist generally of a copper tube run around the ceiling and having detectors at the end of the tube. A quick rise in temperature sends in the alarm. This then becomes a thermostatic system. To he dependable it should be supervised—that is it would have its own signal to tell if any part of it is out of order. The weekly tests, while they may be made, are not necessary. This system can be installed so that it is as thoroughly supervised as the one described for the sprinkler.
The Underwriting Boards also require that supervisory systems should lie kept under inspection by the company installing them and should not be dependent on the Fire De partment making weekly tests or upon local contractors who may not understand the installation.
Make Work of Fire Department Easier
Such sy stems as outlined instead of making the work of the Fire Department harder make it easier. As the Fire Department is endeavoring to serve the public and give it protection, anything that will help this department increase the promptness and value of its service will he appreciated by the community.
(From a paper read before the annual convention of the Dominion Association of Fire Chiefs.)