The Internet of Things (IoT) has already been marking a complete revolution in many of the gadgets and smart home appliances we normally use on a daily basis, and this trend is only getting started. This technology has been advancing at a lightning-fast pace and is transforming the way we interact with electronics.
So how about in the fire alarms industry? What can we expect for the future of fire alarm systems when the IoT starts interacting with our fire alarm control panels and especially with smart buildings?
The Big Idea
The principle of the IoT applications is that all devices we use in our day-to-day life will be actually connectable both to the internet connectivity and between each other. This is possible thanks to the arrival of super-cheap computer chips and the ubiquity of wireless networks that allow us to make any device into a source of data that can then be transmitted to other devices to be interpreted. Everything based on data collecting systems, which can be shared with all devices.
What actually makes a random appliance into a data source is the installation of sensors to collect diverse inputs. It is only logical then that a system that already relies on a number of sensors can be widely explored by this emerging tech, making IoT in fire detection a very achievable idea.
Fire alarm systems already rely on inputs from the sensors and detectors composing them. Still, while now we are using those inputs to simply start a suppression system or sound an alarm for instance, the integration with the Internet of Things can actually turn these sensors into live fire alarm data for the fire department to not only understand exactly where a fire is but also track its development before even stepping into the building.
An IoT system's remote monitoring and diagnostic capabilities in real time can help firefighters know where to position personnel and trucks in advance, gaining visibility into how to reach an emergency. Thinking even further, the combination of this technology with Smart Buildings that are becoming increasingly more common will facilitate even some contingency plans such as shutting down the HVAC system or putting elevators in fire mode automatically after a fire is detected.
Enters the Titan
These new features add a level of intelligence to devices (such as initiating devices and smoke detectors), which would help, for example, to prevent unscheduled emergency repairs and to control false alarms better, aside from the ease of remotely monitoring the systems of different buildings or different areas from a single device. An example is Honeywell’s cloud platform called Connected Life Safety Services (CLSS), which offers IoT connectivity systems that provide situational awareness when fighting fires.
Honeywell CLSS is already able to emit compliance reports, remotely testing every device and making servicing of the system more efficient. It also gives you and your technicians remote visibility to diagnose a problem before even arriving on site, everything from a mobile app. This is the power of the IoT in fire protection, and as it develops further, new functionalities will make Fire Alarm Systems even more helpful and easier to manage and create a whole new line of smart home products.
An example of the variety of devices that can be created to support this new technology is the so-called smart detectors. They are detection devices equipped with an integrated smoke source, which will produce a small amount of smoke directly into the detection chamber, causing the sensor to go into trouble.
These self-testing devices are what make remote testing possible since you can simulate a fire just by pressing a button to analyze the behavior of the system from basically anywhere. This will also make the process of climbing stairs and manually injecting smoke from a can into the detectors obsolete.
These are just a few new functionalities that this emerging technology can provide, and they are already being produced. It’s up to our imagination what else such improvements in the fire safety industry can bring us in terms of making our lives safer and more accessible.
Be aware that the marketplace will most likely move faster than the NFPA codes can be updated. Their codes are typically reviewed every 3-5 years and might not be able to anticipate what new technologies will be available by the time they are published. However, the National Fire Protection Association already stated that it does not want to be a barrier to emerging technologies, so, in the future, we can expect the use of IoT systems to be more fully addressed in some existing NFPA codes as well, including: