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Aico & Pointerfire with Sheffield City Council creates cost-effective solution to reduce false alarms in sheltered housing

Published on 2 March 2015
Pointerfire installed Aico Ei2110 Multi-Sensors in each flat linked to the communal Heat detector installed in the hallway of the flat

The solution uses Aico’s RadioLINK technology wirelessly interconnecting alarms by Radio Frequency signals

Sheffield City Council, in conjunction with installers Pointerfire and Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm manufacturer Aico, has created a cost-effective solution to reduce false alarms in one of its sheltered housing schemes using Aico’s RadioLINK technology, which wirelessly interconnects alarms by Radio Frequency (RF) signals, rather than cabling. 

Ernest Fox House in Sheffield has 14 one and two bedroom flats and bungalows. It has been designated an Independent Living scheme for people over 60 and operates with site based Wardens and a 24 hour Warden Call system.

The individual flats had self-contained smoke detectors which sounded an alarm throughout the dwelling only. A separate communal fire alarm system was installed throughout the common circulation areas which, when operated, alerted the residents and generated an automatic call to the fire authorities.

Sheffield City Council HM&E section, explains the challenges faced: “it was suggested by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue we investigate the possibility of fully monitored systems within our schemes to help minimise false alarms. What made the situation particularly problematic was that a high percentage came from excessive cooking vapours when the resident opened their front door to clear the smoke. The smoke would enter the hallway and activate the communal alarm system leading to all residents, not realising it was a false alarm, evacuating the building. At the same time an alert was automatically transmitted to the local fire authority. This was both disruptive and costly.”

“Consequently we needed to address this situation and meet the requirements of the local Fire & Rescue service, but without incurring costs to either ourselves or our residents.”

Pointerfire installed Aico Ei2110 Multi-Sensors in each flat, linked to the communal Heat detector installed in the hallway of the flat. The analogue addressable heat detector was configured to allow differentiation between the Heat detector activating and an input from the flat Multi-Sensor. This differentiation is indicated on the fire alarm control panel located by the main entrance. Should the input originate from the Multi-Sensor alarm, the main fire panel in the building has a three minute delay built in before it automatically calls the Fire & Rescue Service. This allows the tenant to control any accidental triggering of the alarms using the Aico Alarm Ei450 Controller installed in the property. If the activation is via the Heat detector the response at the panel is immediate. Smoke detectors are now only installed in the corridors adjacent the electrically held open fire doors. In the event of an alarm from a flat Multi-Sensor or communal smoke detector the doors are released immediately.

David Greenwood, Technical Manager at Pointerfire, explains further: “it’s a neat solution and the fire panel is able to provide the fire brigade and maintenance team with both immediate and historic information which enables all the fire alarms within the premises to be better managed."

“This is something new for all of us but we found it very manageable.  Every step of the way we could see another little advantage. It’s been fitted into 14 flats so far as part of an initial trial and is working well; there certainly haven’t been any unwanted alarms sent to the fire brigade so far.”

Aico’s Ei2110 Multi-Sensor mains powered fire alarm was especially suited to this project because of its high resistance to false alarms. The Ei2110 contains two separate sensing technologies – Optical and Heat. As such, the unit is capable of monitoring two very different by-products of a fire – smoke and heat – so its response to all fire types is significantly improved when compared with traditional single sensor type units. This offers improved resistance to false alarms and is further enhanced by a unique dust compensation feature that automatically adjusts for any contamination within the optical sensor whilst still retaining sensitivity to an actual fire.

The Ei2110 Multi-Sensor alarm, which features 10 year rechargeable Lithium cell back-up, was mounted on a RadioLINK base to allow it to directly communicate with the Ei450 Alarm Controller in each flat, without the need of cabling between the devices. This makes for a quick, cost-effective solution, with minimum disruption. The Alarm Controller allows the user to easily Test, Locate and Silence alarms from one convenient location.

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