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RESEARCH BY the Fire Industry Association (FIA) found that ‘more sophisticated’ multisensor detectors are ‘more effective’ at reducing false alarms than ‘standard’ detectors.
The FIA stated that the research has ‘led to some momentous discoveries in the field of fire detection and alarm’, and that the ‘conclusive evidence’ will ‘make waves’ in the sector. The research was undertaken by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the University of Duisburg in Germany, and utilised a range of different detectors including standard and multisensor.
This was undertaken to find out ‘which detectors were more effective in terms of sensitivity and reducing false alarms’, and the project arose from another previous study by BRE and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Live investigations of false fire alarms. That study ‘monumentally changed’ British Standards, which thereafter included ‘covers on manual call points to reduce false alarms’, with its success leading to the new project.
Additionally, this recent study was actually ‘one of the recommendations of the last project’, and saw 12 manufacturers’ products represented with a total of 35 different detectors. Two standard detectors were used, one commercial and one domestic, and all were graded according to different designs into three performance categories. These included standard, intermediate and advanced, with all tested against 10 different fire tests and false alarm tests for replicating real scenarios.
Its results showed ‘little difference’ in terms of sensitivity and ability to detect between both multisensor and standard detectors, but ‘one key area did come to light’ in that multisensor detectors in the advanced category ‘far outstripped others in false alarm tests’. This meant that ‘they offered the same level of protection from fire, but were much better at rejecting false alarm situations’.
The FIA noted that it can be ‘difficult’ for both installation and maintenance companies to ‘know how to solve the issue of reoccurring false alarms and which type of detector to install to solve the issue’, adding that this can get ‘even more confusing when the range of effectiveness of those alarms varies so widely from one manufacturer to another’. It concluded however that ‘thanks to this new research there is some clarification at last’.
Martin Duggan, general manager of the FIA, commented: ‘Four years ago, we decided that we should invest around 100K a year into research projects. Research is important to FIA as it underpins all the professional standards that we strive for and ultimately has an impact on the way standards are created, written, and the way that fire protection is implemented nationally.
‘This new project into the effectiveness of multi-sensors may help manufacturers develop new products and installation companies may benefit from a raised awareness of false alarm rejection from a range of different detectors.’

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