Introduction to Fire Alarm & Detection Systems

A. Bhatia, B.E.

Course Outline

The primary function of a fire alarm is to alert the occupants of a building to the presence of a fire. It may also perform other functions. For instance, the system can be designed to simultaneously alert the fire department by means of a direct or relayed signal where a rapid response by the fire department is essential. The US Fire Administration says "Don't .comet the Smoke Alarms". Even though fire sprinklers are effective life safety devices you still need smoke alarms. Some fires can begin as smoldering fires that produce smoke and gases but don't generate enough heat to activate the sprinklers. Smoke alarms are needed to provide warning for these situations."

This 3- hour course describes the basic description of fire alarm and detection systems.

The course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the readers will:

Intended Audience

This course is aimed at students, architects, building designers, electrical engineers, loss prevention professionals, contractors, civil estimators, HSE staff, facility managers and general audience.

Course Introduction

A key aspect of fire protection is to identify a developing fire emergency in a timely manner, and to alert the building's occupants and fire emergency.comanizations. This is the role of fire detection and alarm systems. Depending on the anticipated fire scenario, building and use type, number and type of occupants and criticality of contents and mission, these systems can provide several main functions. First they provide a means to identify a developing fire through either manual or automatic methods and second, they alert building occupants to a fire condition and the need to evacuate. Another common function is the transmission of an alarm notification signal to the fire department or other emergency response .comanization. They may also shut down electrical, air handling equipment or special process operations, and they may be used to initiate automatic suppression systems.

This course will describe the basic aspects of fire detection and alarm systems.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file Introduction to Fire Alarm & Detection Systems . You need to open or download this document to study this course.

Course Summary

Fire alarm systems are required by law through building codes, fire codes and special acts or bylaws. The choice of a particular type of equipment to be used in a fire alarm system depends on the nature of the occupancy, the size of the building, the number of occupants and the level of protection desired. To be effective, a fire alarm system must be tailored to the building and the types of fire that could develop. The designer of the system must understand the functions and limitations of the equipment chosen to obtain maximum efficiency and safety.

To achieve the desired level of protection, many fire alarm systems will contain a combination of smoke detectors, heat detectors and manual pull boxes. The type of detector to be used in a given location depends on the nature of the fire expected, the response time desired and the service conditions in which the detector must operate. To be most effective, both smoke and heat detectors must be located on or near the ceiling of the space to be protected because that is where smoke or hot gases initially collect.
Contacting a fire engineer or other appropriate professional who understands fire problems; different alarm and detection options is usually a preferred first step to find the best system.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person.comanization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.