The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Detection & Fire Alarms – Part 192

March 13, 2023 12:11 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 191, LWF discussed combustion gas detectors, a relatively new development in the world of fire detection. In part 192, we begin to look at the control and indicating equipment of a fire alarm installation.

If the detectors of a fire alarm system could be loosely said to be the eyes and ears of the system, the control and indicating equipment (CIE) could be classed as the heart and brains. The CIE provides power and monitors the trigger devices and any cabling connecting trigger devices and sounders etc.  The power used is usually mains power, but a backup power source must also be provided in the form of batteries in case mains power is compromised.

When a fire detector, or a manual call point activates, the CIE indicates in which area or zone the alarm has originated. The panel will show certain lit lamps or illuminate areas of a plan of the premises. Ancillary text information may also be displayed on an LCD or VDU.

Authorised users of the fire alarm CIE can silence alarms and reset the system afterwards. It is also possible to isolate individual devices or groups of devices, and sometimes test facilities are also incorporated into the systems.

The siting of the CIE is just as important as siting of the individual detectors. It should be located so that the Fire Service can have easy access to it as they enter the building. Repeater panels or mimics may be sited at several locations so the information is available at all strategic entrances to a large or complex building. A zone plan should also be located by the CIE and repeater panels so that the location of the fire can be clearly identified. This duplication is necessary as a fire may start at any point within a building and some entrances/exits may be inaccessible when the Fire Service attempt to access the building.

Where management or staff that are required to respond to fire alarm activations frequently move around a building, such as security staff, additional alerting devices such as pagers can be installed to the fire alarm system duplicating the fire alarm signal and location information to mobile persons. Text messaging services are also available with the technology available differing between manufacturers and dependant on the age of the system.

In part 193 of this series, LWF will begin to look at alarm devices. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 35 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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