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What is an addressable fire alarm system? 

Addressable fire alarm systems, like other types, consist of devices such as detectors, call points and sounders. Each device has a unique address which is allocated either by:

  • hard addressing – each device uses a numerical binary code tag or switch; or
  • soft addressing – the software used to operate the system allocates a unique number to each device in the order that they are wired to the panel.

All devices are connected to the main control panel via one or multiple wire loops.

How do addressable systems work?

When an alarm or status report is received, the address of the activated device displays on the main control panel. This means the exact location of the device can be pinpointed minimising the time required for validating the activation and taking action. 

Who requires an addressable fire alarm system?

The ability to identify the exact location of triggered devices makes addressable fire alarm systems an ideal and intelligent solution for large commercial premises that require many devices spread across an extensive space such as hotels, warehouses and office buildings. Care and nursing homes require an addressable system if they have more than 10 people sleeping there (including staff) at any one time to comply with BS 5839-1:2017.

How reliable are addressable systems?

The ability to accurately pinpoint devices once activated using their addresses minimises the time required to locate and validate an alarm. The extra time afforded by an addressable system will minimise the likelihood of disruption caused by false alarms and reduce risk when responding to real threats.

Devices in an addressable fire alarm system use the same wire loops that connect to the main control panel at either end. If the loop is damaged or severed, the other end is still connected to the control panel. Devices in a conventional system are usually connected to the control panel via individual wires. If an individual wire is damaged, the device is no longer connected to the control panel. This is why addressable fire alarm systems are more reliable.

Installation, wiring and cost

The loops used to connect the devices on an addressable system typically use less wiring. This means addressable fire alarm systems are the most cost-effective for scaling and cheaper to install than other types such as conventional systems that require more wiring. Having said that, addressable control panels are usually more expensive, that’s why an addressable system is more suited for larger premises.

Addressable fire control panels

Here are some examples of addressable control panels that we commonly work with when delivering our fire alarm system services.

  • Gent Vigilon
  • Gent Vigilon Compact
  • Gent Nano
  • Advanced MX Pro 5
  • Advanced MX Pro 4
  • C-Tec ZFP
  • C-Tec XFP
  • C-Tec CAST
  • Ziton ZP2
  • Ziton ZP3
  • Kentec Syncro
  • Kentec Taktis
  • Morley ZXSE
  • Morley DX

All the panels are open protocol that require training to ensure competency and stop people disabling the fire alarm system.

Are addressable fire alarm systems intelligent?

Addressable systems are intelligent by design and programming. The control panel can be programmed to take a specific action following an alarm activation. This type of programming is commonly known as ‘cause and effect’. 

Double knock or evacuation of certain zones following the activation of multiple detectors are common strategies that are programmed into addressable fire alarm control panels.

Furthermore, addressable control panels monitor each device on the system individually. As a result, the panel can make intelligent decisions based on the individual data it receives from each device. 

Is an addressable fire alarm system analogue or digital?

Addressable fire alarm systems use both analogue and digital technology. Analogue addressable, digital addressable or just addressable is essentially the same thing, there is no difference.

Addressable system detectors use analogue sensor technology to detect an increase in heat or smoke in a room. This analogue data is then converted into digital data before being sent to the main control panel. This is required because control panel processors understand binary code, not analogue signals. For example, addressable panels use digital displays to detail devices that have been triggered. Such displays require digital data.

What is a fully addressable fire alarm system?

Fire alarm systems are either addressable or another type, there is no middle ground. Therefore, there is no such thing as a fully addressable fire alarm system.