What is the only building system that is required by law but is also the only system that isn’t used daily? The fire system. It’s like an insurance policy – you continue to pay your premiums, or in this case, service the fire panel – with the knowledge that it would only be needed in limited circumstances, if ever.
Even without an emergency, a fire system requires regular maintenance. That’s the insurance part of the fire system – it’s an extremely critical part of the building when the need arises because if it doesn’t function properly then the building, its assets, and importantly, the people inside it are all at risk. To add to the urgency, fires today spread faster than before. Furnishings and equipment used today are more frequently made of artificial materials, which are more flammable than natural materials.
Today’s global environment requires the fire and life safety industry to innovate in ways that enable facility managers and system integrators to monitor their systems and diagnose issues anytime, from anywhere. The future of fire safety relies on deploying technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile data and cloud computing. As intelligence is integrated into the fire system, it means changing building owners’ mindsets to treat fire and life safety systems like assets, not like an insurance policy. It also moves toward the creation of truly connected buildings by finally bringing the most essential system in the building online, and creating better connectivity for more secure, compliant and efficient fire system management.
Making Smart Connections
Incorporating IoT-based tools into a fire system provides many benefits, from making sure that maintenance checks are conducted as outlined by local regulations to providing first responders with real-time and up-to-date information that can potentially result in faster response times.
Smart fire IoT systems[i] can enable fire technicians to minimize disruption, improve compliance and reduce time needed for fire system design, installation, inspection and maintenance. More so, it can help detect exactly where the fire is and the nature of it so that emergency responders can deploy specific measures tailored to its location.
With more than 8.3 million connected points on fire systems in more than 45,000 buildings worldwide, this technology is changing the way that fire technicians approach system alarms by addressing issues pertaining to incomplete or inaccurate information of an on-site situation, false alarms and more.
Beyond dealing effectively with safety incidents, organizations working in the fire safety value chain find themselves managing the challenges due to limited access to facilities due to shutdowns. In addition, many facility maintenance teams are working with reduced staff and are having to achieve more with fewer resources. Connected fire systems can help address these challenges by providing access to the system’s data from anywhere, without necessarily being physically at the control panel but instead through a mobile app or web browser.
Providing Visibility Anytime, Anywhere
Without being in the building, maintenance technicians and emergency responders can use smart technology to monitor an entire fire system to see – in real-time – which devices are activated, which devices may soon malfunction, diagnose problems before entering a building, identify false alarms, comply with regulations and more. It enables the power of predictive maintenance to the fire system and provides better reporting for mandated inspection and maintenance.
As facilities are working to create healthier environments, IoT technology can help system integrators provide their customers with the highest level of safety and service. This technology can help fire technicians and first responders work more efficiently by giving them insight into the system problem even before they arrive on site.
The long-term benefits associated with implementing IoT to the fire and life safety industry haven’t fully been realized. To be prepared for the disruptive changes ahead, the industry needs to prioritize and adopt digitalization across all aspects of its operations. We no longer need to imagine the future state of fire safety, it’s already here.
[i] Honeywell, Honeywell Introduces First Cloud-Based Solution That Provides End-to-End Connectivity and Visibility to Fire Safety Systems, October 20, 2021. [Accessed August 12, 2021]