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29 Jun 2022

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New report investigates how to prevent costly false alarms in fire detection systems in data centers

False alarms generated by fire detection systems in data centers and edge facilities can cause a lot of problems. Aside from interrupting IT workloads, alarms can take a lot of time and be expensive to examine.

This is why Euralarm's Task Force False Alarms recently published a new study on false alarms. In this new edition, the results and findings of the first edition are combined with an analysis of the Danish situation. There is also a recommendation for the terms used to describe false alarm situations. The measures to reduce the number of false alarms have also been updated.

There has been a steady increase in the use of automatic fire detectors in every kind of infrastructure over the past seventy years. As a result of the application of automatic fire detection technology, early detection of fires has become the norm. It allows building occupants to evacuate safely, equipment can be switched off in a responsible manner, and intervention forces can prevent the fire from spreading. There can, however, be times when an early warning system triggers an alarm despite no event taking place;a false positive or false alarm. It is quite simple for detection systems to detect phenomena such as smoke and heat. It is the balance between "early as possible" and "early as needed" that poses the greatest challenge to any fire detection and fire alarm system designer or service engineer.

With modern detectors, it is much easier to detect real events while ignoring false ones. It has reduced false alarms by at least two thirds compared to threshold type detectors. However, technology alone cannot eliminate false positives. To increase the overall "alarm reliability" of a fire detection and fire alarm system, other factors must be taken into account. The report identifies design, commissioning, and maintenance as the most important factors. As a result, the alarm system's reliability will decrease, and it will be unable to protect lives and property. It is equally important that the design and maintenance of the building be adapted to the needs of the occupants, in order to ensure the reliability of the alarm.

In the study, the statistical data of fire alarms is analyzed as well as the methodology used in collecting and analyzing the data. Everyone who studies the data of the different countries involved in the study concludes that there is no unified approach. This greatly hinders comparisons, which are essential for better understanding the overall situation and developing simple and effective countermeasures against false fire alarms.

By working together with the European standardisation Technical Committee 72, this revised and expanded publication of the study will help guide the industry and its stakeholders towards a more uniform approach across Europe. It also contains measures for the reduction of false alarms in terms of products, planning, organisation, and maintenance.

Photo credit: knauth

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