Geofire: Open & Shut Case

Geofire: Open & Shut Case

Andy Collinson, CEO of Geofire, provides an overview of two of the company’s wire-free fire door safety systems.

There’s been a revolution in wire-free fire door safety technology, with a new generation of top-performing products arriving in the marketplace that are delivering performance for users and significant profit for installers.

Electrical contractors are increasingly discovering that the installation of these fire safety products offers considerable benefits for both the user and installer, including enhanced access and safety of the building’s occupants, installation time reduced by up to 90% and no damage to the building.

It’s worth noting that legally holding fire doors open allows restriction-free movement in line with the Disability Discrimination Act and helps prevent damage from people and equipment, prolonging the life of the fire door.

Function defines choice
The choice of fire door release technology is likely to be decided by the size of a building, complexity of installation, coupled with the foremost objective of achieving high reliability and, ideally, lower cost of ownership throughout its lifetime.

As a general rule, smaller ad hoc systems lend themselves to acoustic actuation, while radio systems are more suited to larger, noisy environments.

Radio solutions
Wire-free devices that are controlled by radio technology and linked to a fire alarm control panel are quick to install and non-invasive, and can even be installed with the building in full use. The door devices are controlled and monitored centrally from a mains operated controller that’s wired to the building’s fire alarm and detection panel. Coverage of a single radio device is wide, typically 40m indoors, and can be easily extended by deploying signal boosters to cover an entire building. A radio system requires an initial radio environment survey to guarantee system coverage at all unit locations, further improving its reliability.

“Wire-free devices that are controlled by radio technology and linked to a fire alarm control panel are quick to install and non-invasive, and can even be installed with the building in full use.”

Because of the fault monitoring capabilities of radio solutions, these devices have built in fail-safe provision. The controller is mains powered and directly connects to the fire alarm system, meaning it can be used in areas requiring ‘Critical’ (category A) actuation as defined in BS7273-4. Unlike acoustic products, it is not possible to buy a standalone unit to cover one location as the radio control element will always need to be installed.

Acoustic, stand-alone devices
Acoustic fire door holder/closer solutions are seen as a very cost-effective option, where the greater complexities of the centralised door control system are not appropriate, while eliminating the serious threat of doors being wedged open, a persistent problem that, in the event of a fire, provides no protection for a building and occupants.

As they are activated by a local fire alarm sounder, these acoustic fire door holders/closers are standalone products and may be simply installed when and where required. Use of a self-contained acoustic device is dependent on a risk assessment as its audio-activation relies on the integrity of the sound path from the sounder in accordance with Fire Safety law.

New technology
While acoustic fire door holders and closers have been available for some time, the reliability and performance of some have raised questions. Known to be prone to false activations caused by extraneous noises such as vacuum cleaners or high power floor polishing machines, some devices have been associated with operational failures that could trigger a fire door’s unwanted closure, prompting the door being illegally propped open.

It was in response to these concerns that leading UK manufacturer Geofire developed their unique, advanced digital technology that enables their Agrippa range of wire-free fire door holders and ‘swing-free’ closers to uniquely ‘listen and learn’ the sound of a specific fire alarm. This ensures the holder’s releasing trigger reacts only to the precise sound of the fire alarm rather than extraneous loud noises, so false activations are virtually eliminated.Geofire-Walk-Thru-Door

Geofire’s Agrippa acoustic range of fire door holders and ‘swing-free’ closers are a cost-effective, easy-to-install solution. Easily retrofitted to any door, the Agrippa magnetic fire door holder is mounted behind the door at either floor level or at the top of the door, whilst the fire door closer is an overhead, battery powered, acoustic, ‘swing-free’ mechanism. Both products are approved to EN1155 and CE marked, the closer is further approved to EN1154. Both products are suitable for installation to BS 7273-4 Standard Actuation (Category B).

Geofire’s Salamander radio controlled fire door safety products are suitable for larger and more complex installations. Each Salamander battery operated device connects wirelessly to the same mains-powered controller unit, which is easily connected to the existing fire alarm system. Thus complying with Category A of BS7273-4 to ensure that fire doors will safely close in the event of a fault or fire. One controller unit can manage up to 99 fire door closers or fire door holders, which are all battery-powered and wire-free, saving time, installation costs and disruption to a building’s fabric or occupants.

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