The fire alarm control panel (FACP) is the centralized processing computer of a commercial fire alarm system. Itl receives data from the various fire alarm devices designed to detect smoke or fire, monitor their functional integrity and provides for automatic control of life safely equipment, transmission of data signals to a fire alarm monitoring service and prepare the building for smoke or fire based on a predetermined sequence to control the spread of a fire. The fire control panel also supplies the electrical current to operate the associated sensors, detectors, transmitters or relay modules. There are 3 basic types of fire panels.
Coded Fire Panel
A coded fire alarm panel is one of the earliest type of fire alarm systems that were designed, constructed and use up until the 1970′s. A code fire panel is similar to the more modern conventional alarm panel, except each fire zone is connected to its own circular wheel. Due to the outdated technology, the coded fire panel is large and can take up an entire wall in the electrical or mechanical room. These are uncommon but can sometimes be still in use in older hospitals or college campuses.
Conventional Fire Panel
A conventional fire alarm panel is one of the most widely used in the fire alarm industry for the last 30 years. The conventional fire panel is the basic fire system that reports troubles, supervisories and alarm conditions by a numbered zone that indicate an activation in an area of the building. It is less expensive to purchase but more costly to service, troubleshoot and maintain as each device does not automatically identify itself in a malfunction. If you have a defective device on a zone with 30 alarm devices, it can become labor intensive to find and replace in a larger complex.
Addressable Fire Panel
An addressable fire alarm panel is more sophisticated than the older conventional fire alarm system because you can install as many as 100 devices on a loop. Each device is assigned it own address making it easier to pinpoint the location of a fire, troubleshoot, maintain and program. In the event of an alarm or trouble, the devices address is displayed in the LCD annunciator. It is more expensive to purchase but it is cost effective to troubleshoot, maintain and service. An addressable fire system also supports conventional fire alarm parts. No matter what type of fire panel that you have, it is by far the most expensive piece of any fire alarm system to repair or replace.