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What Is the Best Fire Alarm Panel?

Posted on: November 4, 2013

We get this question from business owners frequently, and while there is no single best fire alarm panel out there, there are a number of different fire alarm features that can make the system easier or harder to operate. Remember—in the case of a fire alarm panel, easier is always better!

When installing a fire alarm panel, there are definitely certain features that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. Since you likely won’t be able to devote your full attention to any one thing during an emergency situation, you want to make sure your fire alarm panel can be operated as intuitively as possible. The following is a rundown of the features we suggest you should look for when installing a fire alarm panel:

Is it easy enough for anyone to use?

Even if you’re the building owner or operator, you may not be able to reach the fire alarm panel as quickly as another employee. Therefore, intuitiveness and ease of operation is paramount—the fire alarm may need to be operated by someone who has not been officially trained. Intuitiveness can be determined by:

  • Readability of the display
  • Number, layout, and labeling of the front panel buttons
  • Number of required steps needed to read and acknowledge messages, silence the panel and alarms, and reset the fire alarm system

Ideally, at least all of your building managers and maintenance engineers should all be trained on your particular fire alarm. This isn’t always possible, especially if one of them is not able to get to the panel in time, so you want to make sure your fire alarm panel is easy enough to use that it doesn’t require training.

Is the panel easy to read, even during an emergency?

Every second counts during a fire, and you should be able to get all the information you need from your fire alarm panel at a glance. It should tell you exactly where the fire is active without you having to press any buttons. This will save time and confusion during a panic situation.

How many buttons do you need to press?

Requiring fewer button presses on the fire alarm panel is always better, no matter what. More buttons only increases confusion, with more labels to read and more decisions to make when time is of the essence.

The only buttons you really need on a fire alarm are Reset, Silence, and Acknowledge. These buttons should all be easily visible on the panel, separate and larger than any other buttons to establish their importance. Otherwise, fewer is better.

How many steps does the panel take to operate?

In addition to having few buttons, you also want to make sure your fire alarm panel requires as few steps as possible to operate. Every additional step after Silence and Reset increases the complexity of your panel exponentially, especially if the buttons have to be pressed in a certain sequence.

Do you need a password or key to operate the alarm?

NFPA Fire Alarm Code dictates that your fire alarm must require a password or key to operate. If you use a password, make sure it is written down for future operators. A password no one remembers makes the fire alarm system impossible to use.

Using keys to operate the fire alarm panel is a viable alternative to a password. Keys can get lost, but the fire department will usually have a working key in their lockbox.

If you need fire alarm panel installation in New Jersey or Delaware, call Confires. We will help you choose the perfect fire alarm panel for your building so you can be as protected as possible.

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