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.
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.
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’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.