Detection dynamics with Global Fire Equipment

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João Paulo Ajami, Managing Director of Global Fire Equipment (GFE) outlines the key factors to take into consideration when designing fire detection and alarm systems for hotels

Over the years, Global Fire Equipment (GFE) has designed, supplied and commissioned fire detection and alarm systems (FDASs) for a number of hotels globally, including some of the world’s largest hotel chains such as Radisson Blu, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and Vila Galé.

Designing FDASs for hotels can be complex. Depending on their size, hotels can be occupied by hundreds if not thousands of people when the staff, guests and other visitors are taken into account.

This sheer volume of traffic and level of occupancy is a challenge, but you also have to take into account that hotels often cover vast areas and regularly incorporate high-rise buildings or different types of connected buildings such as spas, health clubs, meeting rooms, restaurants, bars and children’s clubs.

The combination of these factors means that designing FDASs for hotels presents a number of unique challenges.

Clarity of communication is key

The importance of clarity of communication about every fire event across the entire system cannot be underestimated when designing FDASs for hotels, and even more so for larger hotels.

To ensure the safety of a hotel’s occupants and staff, the fire detection and alarm control panels must be capable of continually monitoring each individual device on the system and logging every event.

This enables those responsible for monitoring and managing the system to take immediate action and respond – irrespective of whether there is a genuine fire event, a false/unwanted alarm or a fault condition.

The primary goal is to provide for timely alarm notifications and the safety of all occupants in accordance with an evacuation strategy which should be designed and tested to avoid panic and confusion in exit routes.

Addressing the challenge of false alarms

Although it is difficult to completely eradicate false or unwanted alarms, developing a robust emergency and management strategy will help to reduce instances as it will ensure minimum inconvenience in the event of an alarm.

Working alongside safety specialists and authorities to develop a Transmission Delay approach can also be useful to ensure there is a well-planned phased evacuation strategy, alongside a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP).

Thankfully there are far fewer incidences of false alarms today due to advances in fire detection technology and premises management.

Why a one size fits all approach doesn’t work

As every individual hotel presents its own issues that need specific management, a one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work.

When it comes to a hotel’s accommodation areas, each room has to be assessed for the type of guests in occupancy and fitted with adequate audible/intelligible alarms, visual Alarm Devices and, where necessary, vibrating devices.

However, when it comes to a hotel’s communal areas such as restaurants and bars, they need a dedicated wide area audible/intelligible alarm and visual alarm devices.

Each area of a hotel will have different hazards so the system also has to be designed to cope with varying levels of compliant sensitivity requirements, and each area must be protected with the right type of fire sensor.

During working hours, for example, a kitchen area should have heat detectors or multi-sensors configured for heat only.

Where the control and indicating equipment is positioned is also important.

In the event of a fire event, the hotel’s emergency team and the first responders arriving on scene must be able to access the event information in strategic locations throughout the premises.

This information can be delivered in a number of ways, including via SMS pager messages or the strategic placement of additional control and indicating equipment (repeaters).

One of the most common mistakes is the placement of detectors in a hotel bedroom’s entry hall, close to or in front of the bathroom door.

This can result in false alarms due to water vapour/steam ingress in the detector chamber.

In standard hotel rooms (from 15 to 30sqm), the ideal placement of a smoke detector is in the centre of the sleeping area.

The importance of resilient networking

A system survivability performance specification must be incorporated within the scope of works by system specifiers.

The design, installation and type of products used in the system should be compliant and verified against the system survivability time specified.

With the requirement of distributed systems, GFE has manufactured highly resilient networked FDASs since the company was established in 1994.

We use highly robust physical layers such as enhanced fire-resistant cabling and we insist on using fully redundant multi-master peer-to-peer network technology which can also be further enhanced in a mesh topology to increase the systems survivability rating.

With our current range of fire control panels, we can achieve distributed architectures with up to 128 loops and we can network 64 of those with our top layer of Building Management System (BMS) monitoring.

Our sophisticated networking capability and the cause-and-effect software analyses exactly what is going on across systems, providing invaluable information to aid decision making.

To conclude, designing FDASs for hotels is complex because a number of additional factors need to be taken into account, including high occupancy coupled with unfamiliarity, complex layouts, varied use spaces and compliance.

Case Study: GFE solutions chosen for Mövenpick Hotel Cebu in the Philippines

Fire detection solutions GFE have been chosen to protect guests, staff and visitors at the 5-star Mövenpick Hotel Cebu on Mactan Island in the Philippines.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, part of the Accor S.A., are the sixth largest hospitality company worldwide.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has over 80 properties globally, including hotels, resorts and Nile cruisers.

Located just 15 minutes away from Mactan Cebu International Airport, Mövenpick Hotel Cebu is a luxury Mediterranean-inspired beachfront hotel.

The hotel comprises 245 guest rooms with private balconies, along with meeting and event facilities, three restaurants, a selection of bars, a 24-hour gym, a swimming pool, a children’s club and a private beach with a club.

The hotel and grounds was severely damaged at the end of 2021 when the Philippines was hit by a Category 5 super typhoon, Odette, which swept through 11 of the country’s 17 regions, causing a trail of destruction, killing 410 people and causing damage estimated to have cost about £972m.

Although the hotel’s structure remained intact, its interior suffered extensive damage and the windows were all destroyed.

The hotel’s beach bar was swept away into the sea, and a 12,000-tonne ship was washed up onto the hotel’s private beach.

The extensive restoration work on the hotel has taken around two years, but today Mövenpick Hotel Cebu is once again welcoming guests from around the world.

The chosen 12-loop fire detection and alarm system comprises fire alarm control panels from GFE’s OCTO+ range, along with approximately 800 ZEOS AS-S smoke detectors, 37 ZEOS AS-H heat detectors, 71 manual call points, 65 sounders and 27 i/o modules.

The installation of the new fire detection system was completed in phases, allowing the refurbishment work to continue as quickly as practicable.

For further information on Global Fire Equipment, please visit

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

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