False alarms, MNS to be features of SupDet 2014

Those are among topics of interest to installers at the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s 18th annual event
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

QUINCY, Mass.—The Fire Protection Research Foundation’s annual Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium (SupDet) will take place March 4-7 this year and includes sessions useful for installers, such as ones on nuisance alarms and mass notification.

“There are definitely things that would be of interest to installers,” said Amanda Kimball, research manager for the foundation, which is based here and is an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association.

Other attendees at SupDet 2014, to be held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla., are expected to also include engineers and manufacturers. “It’s a networking event as well,” Kimball said.

The 18th annual event will feature “30 presentations on the latest developments in research, technology, and applications for the fire protection community,” according to the foundation.

Included in the detection program will be five sessions on nuisance alarms. “A majority of alarms are termed unwanted by fire departments,” Kimball said.

The sessions include a review of how European countries have been tackling reducing false alarms, a look at NFPA 72, Chapter 29 requirements regarding nuisance alarms, and new technologies used to address them.

There also will a panel discussion on the next steps for nuisance alarms, of which Kimball will be a panelist.

She said one of the things she’ll talk about is an ongoing foundation project titled “Smoke Alarm Nuisance Source Characterization.” The objective of the project is “to characterize common nuisance sources for the development of new performance test protocols in ANSI/UL 217 and ANSI/UL 268 product standards in order to meet the NFPA 72-2013 requirements intended to reduce nuisance alarms,” according to the foundation.

There also are sessions on mass notification in the detection program, including one on the security implications associated with mass notification systems.

A summary of that session notes, “MNS systems can comprise a fire alarm notification system, a dedicated MNS system, and a combination of both.” It says that “the technologies that are involved in dedicated MNS systems and combination systems are commonplace, may involve advanced deployed shared infrastructure to accomplish goals and therefore warrant investigation to avoid security flaws and issues.”

The SupDet presentation “will look into the security concerns and issues that can arise from use of these leading edge technologies and some of the inherent flaws that can be misappropriated for malicious intent.” Among areas it will address are software and hardware development security risks and what mechanisms could be deployed to mitigate risks.

The suppression program includes a session on water mist fire protection. Kimball said it will focus on the science behind and the feasibility of using water mist in “more typical hazards like office [buildings] that you usually would sprinkle.” There also will be discussion of the use of water mist in highway tunnels, she said.

A special complimentary workshop, titled "SMART Buildings and Fire Safety," will be available for all attendees on March 5.

More information about SupDet 2014 can be found on the NFPA website.