Fire safety integration with a Building Management System

As more and more smart buildings are designed and built, and older buildings are being retrofitted with Building Management Systems (BMS), it is important to understand how fire safety integration with a Building Management System is carried out and why it’s important. 

Fire protection system and BMS integration

Until recently, fire protection required somebody to see the fire, activate an alarm and report the incident.

Fire safety integration with a Building Management System

With the advent of computers and advances in electronics, smoke detectors linked to a central system to activate firefighting equipment became the norm. 

Now this can be connected to one central BMS. A professional and reliable fire safety integration with a Building Management System makes use of different manufacturers’ equipment and systems, so the choice of BMS is quite important to allow the seamless integration of multiple existing systems. 

Similarly, the choice of fire protection system must be able to integrate seamlessly with the BMS.

What is a Building Management System?

Simply put, a BMS can control many of the facets that need to be controlled in a building such as climate control, access control and even the elevators and escalators.

For example, the BMS can monitor the air quality and temperature in various parts of the building and adjust the air-conditioning accordingly. BMS can control security through access control and monitor tenancy to activate lighting systems. Virtually any aspect of building management can be analysed and controlled using BMS.

A BMS consists of software such as Tridium’s Niagara, on a server with a database and a range of sensors around the building monitoring various conditions. The sensors are connected to an internet capable network and gather data and send it to the BMS. 

The BMS stores the data, analyses it and responds by sending signals that trigger corrective action in controllers.

For example, the temperature and CO2 levels in a crowded meeting room increase. A temperature/air quality sensor detects this and sends a signal to the BMS which corrects the fresh air mix and cooling to that room.

Deploying a BMS has been shown to significantly cut energy and operating costs of buildings and facilities. An added advantage is that all this can be monitored and controlled remotely.

Fire Protection with a BMS

A fully operational fire safety integration with a Building Management System has a multitude of advantages.

Picture the following scenario. An office building with a BMS with access control, air-conditioning monitoring, fire monitoring and control and lighting control fully operational.

Fire safety inspections can be scheduled in the system to ensure complete fire safety compliance.

If however a fire does break out, the system immediately knows where it is, and can activate fire suppression systems. It can also operate the smoke management system. Importantly it can report on what is happening during the incident and store the data for later investigation.

The system is also aware of how many people are in the building and who they are which assists in head count. If worst comes to worst, and somebody is missing it can tell you where they were to assist rescue operations.

The system can also ensure that emergency lighting is operational and monitor lighting issues.

Fire safety integration with a Building Management System

As technology advanced, the progression from manual fire alarms to computerised systems monitoring facilities was a logical progression in fire safety. Similarly integrating the suppression systems with the warning system was the next step. 

Advances in sensors and data transfer protocols have now made the next step in fire safety possible with the integration of fire safety into building management systems. 

Firebrand Group is a unique and fully comprehensive fire and security company, offering a wide range of products and services catering for the Commercial and Industrial Property sectors in Southern Africa.