Fire Panel Changes Offer Real-Time Fire Status Data

02/07/2006 |

New standard will make panels more useful decision-making tools

Fire panels, or “annunciators,” are electronic devices that display data on building conditions in one easily accessible location. When used by first responders during emergencies, the devices can save lives. In December 2005, the National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA) released a comprehensive standard (SB 30-2005 Fire Service Annunciator and Interface) that promises to make future annunciators even more useful decision-making tools to firefighters at the scene, to commanders back at headquarters, or to building and emergency personnel rushing to a fire.

Developed with the help of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. fire-alarm industry, the standard offers greater uniformity in design, operation, and arrangement of fire panels, common symbols denoting fire-related building conditions, and equipment specifications concerning wireless and remote applications. The standardization effort should make real-time information of value clearly and quickly available for processing, planning, and response. For instance, agreement on how to unambiguously represent conditions such as biochemical hazards or the locations of smoke vents and elevators should make the fire panels and related equipment much better tools for rapid decision-making. Similar display and message symbols also should save time and training funds currently needed to teach firefighters to understand dissimilar fire-panel systems. Finally, standardization is considered necessary for parallel efforts in the first responder community to develop a capability to transmit relevant, easy-to-understand building and fire emergency information to firefighters prior to their arrival on the scene.

This information was provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. To find out more about NIST or related developments, visit (

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