What’s trending in the fire alarms and evacuation market?

What’s trending in the fire alarms and evacuation market?
With the increasing awareness on the need for safety and prevention, fire alarm and evacuation solutions continue to see higher market demand. According to a report from the research firm Technavio, the global emergency alarm and evacuation market is expected to reach US$5.3 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR close to 7 percent. Increasing awareness, government regulations and end-user demands are expected to be the major reasons for this growth.
 
The rising popularity of building automation solutions is also expected to fuel growth in this sector. However, Technavio pointed out that the current uncertainty over ideal wireless solutions and lack of awareness will hamper expansion for two more years. The market could see a rapid pick up after that.
 
In the fire alarms solutions market alone, the industrial sector is expected to see the most growth because of government regulations becoming stringent in developed and developing economies. Technological advancements such as wireless sensors, advanced detection systems and human machine interface (HMI) solutions are also among the factors encouraging customers to adopt solutions and boost the market.
 
Mass notification and evacuation systems are widely seen in the commercial sector. They make use of announcement systems, messages, emails and phone calls to provide real-time information in the event of an emergency. Some experts have pointed out that the recent developments in the field of the Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed the market, with the integration of business systems with emergency systems giving greater flexibility in operation. However, a major issue that still hurts the industry is the lack of standards for different structures that could lead to possible failure of control systems during an emergency.
 
A technology close to this market, and imparting significant influence on its development, is the digital addressable lighting interface (DALI). DALI is a wireless protocol and software integration that makes the lighting systems digital. Its deployment complements fire and evacuation solutions, and has proved to be extremely useful during an emergency situation.
 

Current trends seen in market

 
Thomas Parrish, VP,
Integrated Systems,
Telgian

Bringing the fire alarm and evacuation systems under one technological roof and integrating them to work together seamlessly is the main trend that is seen in the market. According to Thomas Parrish, VP of Integrated Systems at Telgian, more and more fire systems are being installed with voice systems so that there is no need for two separate setups to be put in place.
 
“We are seeing a lot of integrations,” Parrish said. “We are also seeing, in certain markets and verticals, the uptake of using the communication systems for other purposes like telephone, paging and background music.”
 
In fact, the integration of mass notification systems with fire alarms is widely seen as the most significant trend by many in the market. Some suggest that the need for intelligibility and clarity is crucial in this regard to managing audible as well as visual notification systems. The role of mobile technology is also becoming more and more important. Features like Real Time Location Services (RTLS), widely found in smartphones these days, can be integrated with security systems to expand
the reach and effectiveness.
 
Rex Lam, Senior Consultant at Guardian Forest Security, stressed that the change in trends is reliant, to a significant extent, on the regulatory policies of a region. Depending on how proactive a particular government is towards meeting the requirements in the field, the market demands and trends could change. Speaking specifically of major Asian markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and Mainland China, Lam said that he could not see much change over the years.
 
“The trends have not been changing much because there are fire codes in different jurisdictions, regardless of where you are, may it be Hong Kong, Mainland China, Singapore, etc.,” Lam said. “This is because the fire system needs to be compatible with the local regulations first before other things can come into play. So, the trend has been to first meet the regulations and then try to integrate the solutions with
building management systems. Of course, there are different ways to do this, there are several industry-wide protocols out there for you to integrate with other systems, but the key thing is before you apply the technology, you must understand what is the value of an integration. This will help the client understands why they are spending the money.”
 
Paul Wijnstra, Fire Safety Consultants,
Royal HaskoningDHV

Speaking of developments in technology, Lam added that solutions are becoming more and more sophisticated than before in reducing false alarms.
 
“Traditionally you would detect fire either by temperature or by smoke,” he said. “I have recently seen newer types of sensors that are also using CO as part of their detection technology in an effort to reduce false alarms. In any alarm system, false alarms are something that you are trying to avoid at all costs.”
 
The importance of local regulations was also stressed by Paul Wijnstra and Mirre Veerman, Fire Safety Consultants at Royal HaskoningDHV, as they spoke about the market conditions in the Netherlands. In most cases in the country, fire alarms and sounders for evacuation are integrated into a single control panel. But the integration of voice alarm systems is not permitted as per Dutch standards and hence has to be maintained on a separate control panel.
 

The Current requirements in the market

 
Needless to say, more and more verticals are interested in installing mass notification systems integrated with fire alarms. According to Parrish, sectors like healthcare were the early adopter of this but now establishments like schools are making it a requirement. There is also demand from other industries like the retail.
 
“More demand from what we would consider non-traditional markets,” Parrish said. “[For instance] in large single-story buildings we would use systems that would be useful for both paging as well as for emergency communications.”
 
According to Lam, the major requirement is to meet the government regulations. In many countries, regulators impose stringent checks on fire safety. Non-compliance with the rules could lead to problems for commercial as well as non-commercial establishments.
 
Going a bit more in detail on this, Wijnstra and Veerman added that the Dutch standards NEN 2535 and NEN 2575 define the requirements for fire detection and evacuation systems in the Netherlands. “For the fire detection system in the recently published 2017 edition, it is now allowed to have digital mimic panels,” they said. “This is due to the recently proven reliability which the Dutch fire detection standard prescribes to. For evacuation systems, sounders with programmed messages are now available.”


Product Adopted:
Active Fire Safety


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