The LWF Blog

Facilities Management – Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems – Control Panel – Part 10.

August 11, 2016 2:30 pm

In our blog series for those people working in Facilities Management about fire safety, we have been most recently looking at fire detection and fire alarm systems. In last week’s blog, we were looking at types of fire or smoke detector and this week, we move on to discuss the control panel and indicating equipment.


The Control and Indicating Equipment is also known as CIE. A CIE could be considered the brain of the fire alarm system as it monitors the detection devices and interconnecting cables, but it could also be considered the heart, as it provides power to the other elements.


While the alarm system is usually mains-operated, it should also have a back-up power supply in case of mains service interruption and this is commonly in the form of batteries.


When a manual call point is triggered or an automatic detector becomes operational, the CIE provides an indication of the area of the building in which this has occurred. The indication could be in the form of a code which must be checked on an adjacent chart, or displayed on the CIE itself as an illuminated mimic plan (A mimic plan is a basic layout of the building with the fire detector points indicated on that map). A VDU or LCD display may also provide text information about the event.


As well as being the central point of notification in case of a fire event, the CIE can be used by an authorised user to silence previously sounded alarms or to reset the system after an alarm has sounded. Other features that it may offer include the ability to isolate certain areas of the system or to run tests.


In addition to authorised staff members being able to use the CIE, it is important that it is available for use by the Fire Service in case of the need for their attendance. Its situation in the building is therefore important and consideration of easy access to the system by firefighters upon arrival is necessary.


It is also possible to have repeater panels of the CIE, which should be sited at other entrances to the building in case the main entrance is unavailable due to fire. These are most commonly found in complex or large buildings and in all cases, it is important that a zone plan is provided next to the CIE so that alarm signals can be decoded easily at that point. This will allow fire and rescue services to see where the fire is located on the map and what obstacles or complications they can anticipate when attempting to subdue the fire.


In next week’s blog, we look at alarm devices and how your decisions on type can impact upon the resulting system. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.



Share this post