Beam There, Detected That

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Allen Brier, FFE Applications Engineering Consultant, delves into the nuances of specialist fire detection solutions mainly on beam-type smoke detection.

In today’s rapidly advancing world, the importance of safety, particularly fire safety, cannot be overstated.

As urban landscapes become denser and architectural marvels rise higher, the need for innovative, reliable fire detection solutions has never been more critical.

FFE Ltd, with its global stature, has risen to this challenge, offering state-of-the-art solutions that not only ensure safety but also preserve the integrity of the spaces they protect.

One standout from FFE’s repertoire is the Fireray Beam-Smoke Detection system.

Celebrated for its seamless integration, cost-effectiveness, and versatility, it stands as a testament to FFE’s commitment to combining technology with practicality.

Suitable for a variety of environments, from sprawling airports to age-old historic buildings, Fireray ensures that no corner is left unprotected.

To provide a deeper understanding of this groundbreaking technology, we sat down with Allen Brier, Applications Engineering Consultant for FFE.

Brier sheds light on the intricacies of the Fireray system, its multifaceted applications, and how it champions top-tier protection without an extravagant price tag.

Can you briefly describe FFE Ltd and its role in fire protection?

FFE Ltd, with more than 40 years of experience, are experts in specialty fire detection solutions.

FFE manufacture Projected Beam Smoke Detectors, Flame Detectors, vibration switches, and aircraft fire extinguishers.

As a member of the Halma Group, FFE collaborates with fire protection companies like Ramtech, Apollo, Firetrace, AAI, OsecoElfab, and Advanced, amidst others in the Safety, Environment/Analysis, and Healthcare sectors.

How does FFE’s commitment to safety influence its product development?

FFE provides high quality fire detection technology that are extremely easy to use and don’t cause nuisances.

The main complaint from customers were quality, ease-of-use and immunity to false alarms.

This has been FFE’s guiding principle in product development.

How does the Fireray Beam-Smoke Detection system work?

Fireray Beam Smoke detectors work by measuring the signal strength reduction of an IR signal as a result of obscuration from smoke.

The detectors are equipped with software to discern the difference between a blockage, actual smoke and dust buildup and will not produce false alarms or troubles when conditions do not call for it.

What are the differences between Projected and Reflective Beam Smoke Detectors?

Projected beam smoke detectors come in two varieties: End-to-End and Reflective.

End-to-End detectors feature separate transmitter and receiver, ideal for extremely challenging applications where there is a lot of obstruction and/or lot of reflective surfaces.

Reflective detectors house both transmitter and receiver in one unit, using a prism reflector opposite of the detector .

Their installation is simpler due to single-end wiring and alignment.

Why is Fireray a top choice for environments like airports, warehouses and historic buildings?

Fireray is ideal for large open spaces like airports and warehouses, replacing multiple spot detectors. Fireray auto-aligns and saves integrators valuable time and labor. In historic buildings, it can be discreetly placed to maintain aesthetics, especially when ceiling installations aren’t feasible. Fireray beam detectors are highly immune to false alarms. Fireray beam detectors can substitute numerous spot detectors, sprinkler heads, and even Aspirated Smoke Detection (ASD).

How does Fireray achieve cost-effectiveness and efficiency?

Fireray detectors can replace up to twenty-six spot detectors in vast areas, and in smaller spaces, the Fireray One can substitute just 6–7 spot detectors, leading to cost savings. The newer technology allows integrators to cut down more than 30-minutes of labor for each beam detector.

A study by the NFPA Research Foundation found Fireray beam detectors could replace up to thirty-nine spot detectors, offering equivalent coverage and quicker smoke detection. Moreover, Low-Level Controllers enable ground-level testing, eliminating the need for costly lifts or machinery for access. As an example, an integrator in Texas chose to use Fireray One devices over another brand and saved over $40,000.

What potential challenges might occur with Fireray beam smoke detectors, and how are they addressed?

Sunlight Interference: Fireray offers models with Light Cancellation Technology® to prevent alarms caused by direct sunlight on the lens.

Initial alignment: Fireray’s reflective beam detectors feature Auto-Alignment, enabling a single individual to achieve alignment in just 2–5 minutes.

Maintaining alignment: With Building Movement Tracking®, Fireray’s reflective beam detectors ensure consistent alignment despite factors like new installations, building temperature-induced flex, groundwater table shifts, or snow loads.

Detector interference: Fireray One uses Dynamic Beam Phasing® technology, allowing multiple beams to overlap without causing interference between them.

Dust build-up: All Fireray detectors come with Dust Contamination Compensation® technology. This ensures consistent signal strength even with lens dust accumulation. Once a threshold is crossed, a trouble signal is generated.

Hazardous Locations (HAZLOC): Fireray offers the only beam detector suitable for Class I Division 1 Zone 1 and ATEX Category 2 hazardous areas, providing significant cost savings over traditional HAZLOC spot or flame detectors.

How does FFE Ltd support those using the Fireray system?

FFE Ltd offers comprehensive support for Fireray users:

Application Support: Fireray’s application engineers assist in selecting the appropriate beam type, quantity, and placement for maximum value. They can even analyse your AutoCAD or pdf drawings to determine optimal beam locations.

Sales Support: FFE’s sales team ensures swift product delivery and facilitates purchases via it’s wide-ranging OEM and distributor network.

Technical Support: Dedicated tech support is available to address installation or operational issues. Equipped with various tools, they guarantee responses within 24 hours, often in mere minutes.

How does FFE Ltd ensure product durability and ongoing customer satisfaction?

FFE products are crafted to rigorous quality and inspection benchmarks, backed by a 5-year warranty on all beam detectors. Beyond the extensive support services, FFE is always reachable via email or phone.

About Allen Brier

Allen Brier brings has extensive experience of over four decades in the Fire Alarm and Fire & Gas Detection industry, having begun his journey in 1982.

Brier’s qualifications include a NICET Level IV certification in Fire Alarm Systems, Level II in Special Hazards, and Level I in Industrial Instrumentation.

His diverse experience has seen him work in various capacities – from design to installation, with engineering firms to end-users.

He holds a Texas Fire Alarm Planning Superintendent License and has previously been licensed in states such as Louisiana, New Jersey, and Alaska.

Brier takes immense pride in his position, where he has the privilege to offer expert guidance that play a crucial role in safeguarding lives and assets.

For more information, go to or email [email protected]

This article was originally published in the January 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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