The job of the fire panel is to monitor for fire conditions, raise an alarm when one occurs and provide an indication of the location of the fire.

So why do we not put it in a cupboard in the back office as it is not the nicest looking piece of equipment you have seen, if an alarm is initiated someone will know where to look to silence the noise. This is the attitude of numerous end users as they did not want the thing installed in the first place.

The UK fire department recorded that many lives could have been saved if the fire panel were easy to find and the block plan had been accurate. The ability to determine the source of the alarm promptly makes it easier to eliminate the source of the fire.

The South African National Standard (8.16.2.1) states the following:

Indicating equipment, in conjunction with suitable manual control facilities, should be sited at an appropriate location for both staff and fire-fighters responding to a fire signal. This should normally comprise an area on the ground floor close to the entrance to the building likely to be used by the fire service, or a suitably sited, continuously manned control room from which at least initial control of any fire incident, by staff and/or the fire service, will be implemented.

It is therefore important to install the fire panel in an easily accessible position for the fire service who can locate it quickly. It is important that installers bring this to the attention of the client and insist the panel be installed near the entrance to the building.

Further to finding the fire panel it is important that a zone indication is provided to show the fire service the general location of the fire (e.g. 3rd floor or 4th floor). An LCD display is not suitable for this, so the provision of zone LED’s is a requirement. Not only the provision of an LED but they must be marked as to what zone they represent and the location of that zone by means of a zone (block) plan of the building mounted adjacent.

Some panels being supplied do not mark which LED is for what zone and in this case the installer has the responsibility of providing clear and precise information.

A typical example of a fire panel where the zone indicators are not labelled. What LED is zone 3?

FACP