The main characteristic of Fire detection and Alarm systems is to identify a developing fire emergency in a timely manner and to alert the occupants and concerned. Depending on the anticipated fire scenario, building type, number and type of occupants and criticality of contents and mission, these systems can provide several main functions. First they provide a means to identify a developing fire through either manual or automatic methods and second, they alert building occupants to a fire condition and the need to evacuate. They may also shut down electrical, air handling equipment or special process operations, and they may be used to initiate automatic suppression systems.
The Fire control panel is the "brain" of the fire detection and alarm system. It is responsible for monitoring the various alarm "input" devices such as manual and automatic detection components, and then activating alarm "output" devices such as horns, bells, warning lights, emergency telephone dialers, and building controls.