Smoke Detection Technology
NFPA Journal®, September/October 2008
Fire detection technology is one of the fastest-evolving areas of fire protection. Advances in sensors and electronics are applied every day in innovative ways to improve our ability to quickly detect fire and the products of combustion and to effectively notify occupants. NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm Code®, is consequently in a state of rapid evolution as its technical committees work to develop requirements related to performance and installation of these new systems in new and challenging fire environments.
The Fire Protection Research Foundation has recently conducted a number of research projects in support of this evolution, including:
Results of all these studies can be found on www.nfpa.org/foundation.
With this work and the work of others as background, the Foundation is embarking on two new projects to aid in the development of the next generation of detection and signaling systems. These projects are based on the concept that smoke detection systems operate as part of an overall fire-safety timeline that includes ignition, flame and smoke spread, fire protection system initiation, occupant notification, and occupant egress.
The first project will focus on the early stages of fire detection, bringing together the studies on the characterization of smoke and improved smoke transport prediction methods with aspects of the egress environment and escape time to develop performance metrics for the next-generation detector.
The second project focuses on signaling to transfer knowledge from other disciplines to the concept of the intelligent fire alarm signal, both to better inform building occupants and to integrate fire and security signaling.
The focus of the Foundation’s work is to enhance the technical basis of NFPA codes and standards so that they can appropriately reflect the contributions that our new understanding of today’s and tomorrow’s products and systems can make to fire safety. The Foundation’s Fire Detection and Alarm Research Council provides an opportunity for the community to participate in planning and conducting these research programs. To participate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen H. Almand, P.E., FSFPE, is the executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation.