Full voice fire alarm systems are increasingly becoming popular among other fire alarm systems as they have proven to be effective in alerting occupants of buildings about impending fire occurrence. Other alarm systems are not as specific as the voice alarm systems. This makes voice alarm systems preferable in MEP Engineering Building Projects. Combining them with the modern temporal 3 fire alarm systems, these systems can provide a heightened security measure to the occupants and may also speedily prompt remedial measures against fire.


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What are full voice fire alarm systems?

As reflected in the name, the full voice alarm systems are voice-enabled fire alarm and emergency communication systems installed to alert occupants about fire emergencies. The messages are pre-recorded in real time to give important information to the occupants. These systems, however, are governed by a set of rules and standards as enforced by international standards organizations. In the USA, the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) serves as the advocate of fire emergency building codes and standards to help with risk management in buildings.

NFPA 72 is the code that governs the use of voice alarm communications. Among others, it requires that the system be intelligible so that they convey alert messages without discrepancies. If, for example, the voice is distorted, the occupants may struggle to respond to the alert and consequently suffer from fire emergencies. Also, the voice fire alarm systems should have a certain degree of speech audibility combined with intelligibility. Measures have been put in place to ensure that alarms conform to these requirements.

Fundamentals of full voice fire alarm systems

The intelligibility behind voice fire alarm systems has its roots in the Department of Defense Unified Facilities Criteria. Note that voice fire alarm systems bear assorted names such as the common voice evacuation systems. Since the emergence of this intelligibility, voice evacuation systems have remained at the helm of fire alarm systems. There have been past catastrophic fire disasters that could have been prevented had voice fire alarm systems used mass notifications. Remember the September 11 2001?

Large buildings such multi-storey designs could benefit remarkably from full voice alarm systems much the same way small residential buildings do. The key component of these systems is the premium quality amplifiers, also termed voice evacuation panels. They enable the dissemination of voice messages across buildings to make sure that every occupants is alerted. The amplifiers could have various features such system troubleshoot or battery indicators.

Full Voice Fire Alarm Systems and the Disabled

The hearing-impaired occupants can also benefit from full voice fire alarm systems following the guidelines paved by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). The organization advocates for technical requirements of these alarm to accommodate those with hearing impairment. To supplement, the ADA standards edition of 2010 with the NFPA 72 edition 2002 have also come to the forefront to reinforce the technical requirements for voice evacuation systems accommodative of the disabled.

Audibility Requirements for Full Voice Fire Alarm Systems

Since its inception, the code NFPA 72 has stressed general audibility requirements for audible notification appliances. It was until 1999 that the NFPA had to highlight the intelligibility requirements of the voice evacuation systems since the establishment of emergency voice and alarm communications in 1996.

The 2010 or 2013 editions of the NFPA 72 have further highlighted clear technical requirements such as 520 Hz audio frequency. An alarm system installed to awaken building occupants is required to meet the following aspects: basic frequency of 520 Hz +/- 10% and alarm signal shall be square wave. This may sound too technical while all you want is perhaps the installation of voice evacuation systems in your building.

Furthermore on audibility requirements, the amplifier speakers are governed by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards. The speakers in question should be tested to ensure that they meet a set of audibility and quality requirements. The standard highlighting these requirements is ANSI/UL 1480. Typically, the speakers are evaluated in a frequency range of 400 to 4000 Hz, but note that speakers in normal operations can exceed this limit depending on the manufacturer.

Installing Full Voice Fire Alarm Systems

The installation part of these systems seems to be tricky but it is ideally if you follow the instructions. Firstly, note the NFPA requirements for this system as bulleted below:

  • All room dimensions
  • Average surrounding noise levels as to much noise may render the systems ineffective
  • Install the speakers towards the center of the room
  • Best coverage angle to enhance intelligibility

These voice evacuation systems may be installed in a variety of buildings. Auditoriums, lecture halls, manufacturing sites, arenas, churches, high-rise buildings, and schools are some of the places to install these systems.

Benefits of Full Voice Fire Alarm Systems

So far, you should be familiar with the advantages of these systems. Unlike other tonal alarm systems, these voice evacuated systems are clearer and specific. In a large building, voice alarm systems can help with relocations from high to low risk. With other alarm systems you expect a complete evacuation as there is no indications of low risk areas.

Voice evacuation systems are best suited to large buildings where amplifier speakers can be installed to reach all the occupants. Because of the clarity the systems provide, it’s rare for the occupants to panic without a sense of direction that where to run to.  

Wrap up!

Full voice fire alarm systems have become the number one choice for fire protection services in many MEP Engineering buildings. They have more advantages than other fire alarm systems. Audibility and intelligibility of these systems give them the edge over the counterparts.

Voice-evacuated systems are governed by various standard and building codes, particularly the NFPA 72. For this reason, ensure that whichever system you buy complies with the preset standards as highlighted herein. To install the systems is also an absolute breeze.

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