Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
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What is a Fire Alarm Zone?

The zones of a building are smaller sections of the building, usually separated by fire walls.
For a fire, the different compartments of a building are almost separate buildings, with common firewalls between the buildings. The zones shown on a fire alarm panel are linked to these fire zones.


By Douglas Krantz

Building zones aren't determined by where the wires are run for the fire alarm system; building zones are determined by the building's fire-control/fire-fighting separations and by the building's smoke-control separations.

Bite Size Zones

A fire zone is a specific area of a building. Each fire zone is separated from all the other zones by "fire walls" and "fire doors". The zones are kept small enough to be "bite sized;" small enough that in a fire the zone can be dealt with as a whole.

Single Zone Buildings

Sometimes an entire building is a single zone. For escape from a fire (evacuation), for smoke control, for firefighting, the building is small enough to be considered as a whole.

Multiple Zone Buildings

On the other hand, to be dealt with as a whole, many buildings just are too large. In order to be bite-sized, the building has to be divided up.

Original Fire Zones

Over time, as cities (villages) started to be assembled, the buildings (or huts) were sometimes close to each other. If one building caught on fire, the others next to them could also catch on fire. While each building had separate outside walls, to a fire, the walls may as well have been shared.

Shared Walls

Nowadays, larger buildings are like that. To a fire, they're a cluster of smaller buildings that are built so close together that they share walls. To a person walking down the hall, there're sections of the building separated by fire doors that go through fire walls.

Firefighting -- No Time for Guessing

As one of the issues in firefighting and life-saving, firefighters are trying to go to the area of the building with the fire. Rather than making the firefighters guess where to go, sending the crews to the right zone, while the fire is burning the building down, would be quite helpful.

Conventional or Zoned Fire Alarm System

If the fire alarm system is wired correctly, with the devices wired together by fire zone, the fire alarm panel or the annunciator (remote readout of the fire alarm panel) will show which zone needs attention. With proper zoning in the fire alarm system, the firefighters don't have to guess which zone to go to, they can quickly go to the correct zone and fight the fire.


Based on his electronics training, and his understanding of Life Safety, Douglas Krantz has compiled his knowledge of Conventional Fire Alarm Systems into the book Make It Work - Conventional Fire Alarms. The book covers the basics of the Conventional Fire Alarm System, and shows how Life Safety and internal supervision affects the fire alarm system.

Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer

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Post this by your fire alarm panel -- It shows the in-house fire alarm system and how it calls the fire department.

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