Wire-free fire door technology comes of age
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a wire-free fire safety revolution underway, driven by a new generation of top-performing products that are designed to deliver performance for users and profit for installers. Here, Andy Collinson examines the choice between radio and acoustic fire door holders and swing-free closers; each providing distinct easy-to-install solutions that avoid the disruption and cost of hard wired systems.
Fire professionals and users are increasingly discovering that the installation of these fire safety products has significant benefits, including enhanced access and safety of the building’s occupants, installation time reduced by up to 90% and no damage to the building. Holding doors open allows restriction-free movement through corridors in line with the Disability Discrimination Act and helps prevent damage from people and equipment, prolonging the life of the fire door
Listed and heritage buildings too, that are covered by tighter restrictions with regard to changes in the building itself, do not lend themselves to hard wired systems.
Fire doors tend to be heavy and cumbersome, so it’s very tempting to wedge them open to ease free movement around a busy building. Clearly, however well intentioned, wedging open fire doors is illegal and provides no protection for a building and its occupants. In the event of a fire, fire doors are designed to stop smoke and flames from rapidly spreading through a building.
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.
Because of the fault monitoring capabilities of radio solutions, these devices have built in fail-safe abilities to deal with any communication problem. 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 its 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. However, like any automatic fire alarm system its performance is proportionate to the alarm system being properly installed and commissioned and maintained. This equally includes test schedules in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.
New technology solves the fire door conundrum
As installers will be aware, while acoustic fire door holders and closers have been available for some time, there have been questions asked about their reliability and performance. Known to be prone to false activations caused by extraneous noises such as vacuum cleaners or high power floor polishing machines, operational failures that could trigger a fire door’s unwanted closure, sometimes resulting in a fire door being illegally propped open.
It was in response to these concerns that 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 is a leading manufacturer of fire door holding and closing products, a new generation of solutions for both the radio controlled and acoustically triggered sections of the market, offering wire free protection to buildings and their occupants.
Geofire’s innovative Agrippa acoustic range of fire door holders and ‘swing-free’ closers are the perfect cost-effective, easy-to-install solution to the problem of holding open fire doors to ease access throughout a building, closing them in the event of a fire emergency to protect occupants.
They use digital wire-free technology to uniquely ‘listen and learn’ the sound of a specific fire alarm. So false activations are virtually eliminated.
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 ‘swing-free’ fire door closer is an overhead battery powered acoustic ‘swing-free’ door closer. Both products are approved to EN1155 and CE marked, the closer is further approved to EN1154.
Geofire’s Salamander radio controlled fire door safety products are suitable for larger or 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.
Geofire supports both systems including regular installer training courses, full details of which are on the Geofire website.
Published February 2016
... In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a wire-free fire safety revolution underway, driven by a new generation of top-performing ...