Heritage Buildings and Wireless Detection

Fire Safety in all buildings is a critical topic, but fire protection in historic buildings and museums is also of great cultural importance. Fire and the consequential damage can result in momentary losses that run into the tens of millions of rands and the loss of irreplaceable historic artifacts. Restoring these damaged buildings and items can be very costly and sometimes impossible.

Wireless systems have been widely used for many years in a diverse range of applications. Wireless does not get in the way of beautiful, visually sensitive architecture. Instead of marrying a historic building with fire alarm cables, wireless systems can protect locations where appearance is paramount.

Originally designed for use within the heritage sector the flexibility of wireless fire alarms has made its application limitless. The speed of installation not only limits the labour costs for an installed system but ensures that minimum disruption is caused.

It’s no longer necessary to close an entire floor of a hotel for example, whilst a new alarm is installed. Ten minutes and a screwdriver is all that is required to install which can be done whilst a maid is cleaning the room as part of the hotels daily routine.

The wireless technology also lends itself to being installed with adhesive products allowing its use within environments with Asbestos that cannot be disturbed without costly risk assessments and specialist removal.

Benefits of Radio Technology : 

  • The speed of Installation – Sensors can be fitted in less than 10 minutes.
  • Minimum disruption of business\staff activities
  • The fabric of the building is protected and undamaged
  • Temporary protection easily & quickly implemented
  • Extra devices are simply added
  • Market and customers favoring “Hybrid” approach
  • Competitive solution

Key in achieving a reliable wireless system is the longevity of its batteries. BS5839 call for a primary and secondary supply on all devices which must give at least 3 years service. With the current battery and wireless technology being used by some manufacturers, it is likely that this time will be more like 5 years, possibly more!

EN54 states that a single or primary supply is acceptable.All wireless systems need to give at least 30 days notice of an impending battery failure.The CIE is unaffected by the above and must have a mains supply with battery back up to meet the relevant risk as directed by BS5839

Some manufacturers interrupt the primary and secondary power supplies differently and use the second battery to provide the 30-day warning. This battery is usually one of the “button cells”. The problem with this is that once the primary power has been exhausted, and three or more years elapsed, the secondary battery, lying dormant, may have expired or corroded. It is therefore important to ensure that both primary and secondary power supplies are fully monitored.

Retrofit applications: Wireless is valuable when the end user has to replace a system or add on to an existing system. Wireless can make it easy to get a new system up and running without the wiring headaches and drilling into the historical building, which most historical buildings are not allowed.

Historic buildings: Wireless does not get in the way of beautiful, visually sensitive architecture. Instead of marrying a historic building with fire alarm cables, wireless systems can protect locations where appearance is paramount.

Faster jobs/temporary structures: Wireless gives contractors the opportunity to quickly complete installations. Pulling wires can consume a large portion of time on a job. What’s more, the system can quickly be installed and removed from temporary structures. Materials are not wasted, and the end user does not have to deal with segments of wire that are tough to reuse.

Outdoor applications: Wireless is much more reliable when the system needs to go outside from building to building and the location is prone to lightning strikes or other destructive weather events. Wired systems are more readily damaged in these situations.

So, Why Wireless?

  • More customers demanding faster installation and disruption
  • Buildings are becoming even more complex with a variety of new materials
  • Fire systems are invariably one of the last services.
  • Retrofits can be made much simpler
  • Access problems over come
  • Fire compartment issues avoided
  • No cables and wiring