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The human cost of false fire alarms

15 July 2019

When people fail to respond to a fire alarm, the possibility of them becoming trapped in a burning building increases dramatically.

Studies have shown that the time people take to react to a fire alarm is important, if not more so, than the time it takes them to physically reach an exit. It is a shocking statistic that on average two thirds of the time from an alarm being triggered to a person reaching an exit is spent by people not moving at all.

Need to React

What's more, it's a situation that is likely to be worse where people occupy buildings that have a lot of false alarms; if familiarity and complacency do set in and then people can start to feel that there's no need to react to the alarm. Then, on the unfortunate occasion the alarm is genuine, their complacency could prove fatal.

40% False Alarms

According to the Fire and Rescue Service, in the year 2017/18, 40% of all 564,827 incidents it attended were false fire alarms. 

Accidental Damage

One possible cause of false alarms is damage to fire alarm cables which trigger the alarm. This can occur during routine maintenance, where a cable might be damaged accidentally, for example, by being stepped on. It could also occur during installation, perhaps after first-fix. Crucially, when multiple tradespeople, perhaps from different trades are working in a cramped cable riser or congested ceiling void. Such faults can be intermittent and notoriously difficult to locate.

Some fire alarm cables are more resistant to damage than others. Although permitted by the British Standard, fire resistant cables with soft silicone insulation can be particularly prone to accidental damage. It might also mean that extra care should be taken while unreeling the cables.

Tough Insulation Skin

Alternatively, Prysmian's FP200 Gold and FP PLUS fire alarm cables are both manufactured with a hard protective Insudite insulation skin. Insudite is a tough, durable and damage resistant insulation that is unique to Prysmian's FP range of fire-resistant cables.

FP200 Gold is a 'standard' fire resistant cable, as defined by the fire alarm and emergency lighting British Standards. It is a tough, durable and dressable cable that is easy to terminate, which is suitable for essential systems.

FP PLUS is an 'enhanced' fire resistant cable with an Insudite skin, which is suitable for applications where a cable with the capability for prolonged use is required.

Find out more about Prysmian's FP range of fire-resistant cables and the benefits of Insudite.

ref: [45/1992 Human Behaviour in Fires]

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