Integration examples: Fire alarms and BAS

Examples of integrating building automation and fire alarm systems for special circumstances are shown.


Using a fire/smoke damper that is part of an engineered smoke control system complying with International Building Code Section 909 as an example, at each damper location we have a smoke detector for detection of smoke, an actuator that controls the opening and closing of the damper, and an end switch to provide positive confirmation of the damper open and closed position. Because the fire alarm system already needs to have circuitry to this location for individual smoke or duct smoke detectors, that same pair of wires can be used to monitor the open and closed position of the damper, essentially eliminating two pairs of wires back to the BAS controller. The position status signals of the damper can then be transmitted from the fire alarm system, through the gateway, and into the BAS along with the active alarm point information. This leaves the wiring to the actuator as the only BAS wiring needed at the damper location.

As another example, let’s use a stairway pressurization fan that is being controlled by a variable frequency drive (VFD). Typically, a VFD would be connected to the BAS via a digital signal while the fire alarm system would provide override of the VFD using dry contacts to stop it or put it into a smoke mode condition. Allowing the BAS to perform all of the control functions permits the adjustment of the fan speed through the BAS to regulate for atmospheric conditions by employing other equipment connected to the BAS, such a digital differential pressure sensors. Using the BAS solely for control eliminates any connection to the fire alarm system, with the activation commands being sent through the gateway. 

Taking advantage of the aforementioned efficiencies gained by integrating the BAS with the fire alarm system requires planning in the design process. This planning process is the same whether it is a design build or a design assist type of project delivery. The building owner and operator must be involved in the process of establishing the design criteria or at the least have influence over it. In a typical design build or design assist process, the integration of these two systems is an afterthought and often never considered. The end user must be made to understand that the efficiencies gained by integration will pay dividends long into the lifecycle of the building.

Jon Kapis is the operations manager in the Seattle office of The RJA Group, and has more than 32 years of experience in fire alarm and building systems integration. Rick Lewis is a senior consultant in the San Francisco office of The RJA Group, with more than 28 years of experience in the fire and security alarm industry. Craig Studer is vice president in the Chicago office of The RJA Group, with more than 30 years of consulting experience in building commissioning and system integration.

Yousef , Non-US/Not Applicable, Iran, 09/26/13 01:51 AM:

Integration of systems in a building needs a tough coordination, specially in early design stages. By experience, Always I see very poor coordination which makes many essential stuff impaired or even missed.
I suppose such an expectation from building owner is often out of his/her tolerance and won't be coordinated ; at least at right time.
Besides; with this kind of integration, we are about to save a pair of wire instead we need to dedicate a module or increase the available module channel ; say at the damper location. Without any Idea on size of building fire alarm system; how the fire alarm is close to the dampers ,...we can't generally justify this Integration will bear a reasonable cost saving.
But I agree with the Author that If Fire Alarm solution provider and BAS provider is one company, such benefits will be attainable since no external coordination is required.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
Variable speed drives: Smooth, efficient, electrically quite motion control; Process control upgrades; Mobile intelligence; Product finalists: Vote now; Product Exclusives
Machine design tips: Pneumatic or electric; Software upgrades; Ethernet advantages; Additive manufacturing; Engineering Leaders; Product exclusives: PLC, HMI, IO
This article collection contains the 5 most referenced articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security