Fire Alarm Market: the price or the quality?
Datum: 17.04.2012

Fire Alarm Market: the price or the quality?

The global financial and economic crisis did not pass unnoticed for the security system industry. Before the crisis, the market showed an average annual growth of 10%.

The global security systems market
(Data source: 2004 – Freedonia Group, 2005 – General Electric; 2008 – RosBusinessConsulting/RBK)

Growth rates for the market in Russia were even higher. According to experts, they varied from 10% to 35% depending on the segment. A third of the market went to burglar and fire alarm systems, RosBusinessConsulting says.

Segments of the security system and security service market in Russia
(2008, RosBusinessConsulting)

Fire alarm systemis designed to detect the unwanted presence of fire and provide diagnostic details. The system includes fire detectors (sensors); the control panel receiving and transmitting data; communication lines connecting system components; power supplies and other devices. Three types of fire alarm systems present at the market now are:
  • non-addressable;
  • addressable
    - with interrogation,
    - without interrogation;
  • analogue addressable.
  • Non-addressable systems (conventional) appeared first and have the simplest design. Fire detectors here do not have individual numbers (addresses) for the control panel to identify them. It is the loop (electric circuit) number where the fire detector is connected that is used for identification. In other words, in a large building with numerous rooms, the fire seat is likely to be identified only within a floor or an extension. Attractive price is the most important advantage of non-addressable systems.

    In the addressable system, each fire detector has a unique identification, or address (as the name implies), on the circuit. It offers finer diagnostic detail not only within the room, but within several meters thus making it easier to protect large objects. Unlike fire alarm systems without interrogation, addressable interrogation systems provide repeating “communication” of the control panel with fire detectors informing about their status, state of power supplies, etc.

    The most up-to-date analogue addressable systemsare capable of early fire detection. They offer every advantage of addressable systems but they function differently. In the analogue addressable system it is the fire alarm control panel (and not the fire detector) which decides if there is an alarm condition in the area. Analogue addressable detectors provide it with information about environment in their detection area, and the fire alarm control panel analyses the data transmitted to it. The new technology made it possible to introduce the warning mode: the system notifications in case any parameter (parameters) reaches the level that is not critical yet but requires attention and room inspection. The mode will be useful to prevent nuisance (false) evacuations.
    Analogue addressable systems have other benefits, too:

  • Circular-type loop structure to increase system reliability;
  • System scalability without considerable additional investments;
  • Wide range of service tools for system use and maintenance; convenient data display;
  • Best malfunction protection (compensation modes, etc.);
  • Supported integration with building automation systems (ventilation, lifts, etc.).
  • The only drawback is higher cost of analogue addressable systems.

    Advantages of analogue addressable systems ensured their leading positions: for more than 10 years they hold 70% share of the global fire alarm market. Meanwhile, in Russia their popularity keeps growing but does not exceed 20% from the total number of installations.

    Changes in the share of analogue addressable systems to the total number of fire alarms (Data source: SystemSensor, Centre-Proton NPO OOO)

    Several possible reasons can be found behind such an impressive difference between the shares of analogue addressable and other types of fire alarm systems for the market of Russia.

  • Legislative policy
    Although Russian legislation lacks such definitions as “analogue addressable fire detector” or “analogue addressable fire alarm system”, usage of this fire safety equipment is not limited in any way. Moreover, according to Clause 13.3.3 of Restatement 5.13130.2009 “Fire protection systems. Automated fire alarm and firefighting facilities”, only one fire detector may be installed in the room, if the following condition is fulfilled (among others): “operability of the fire detector is automatically monitored under environmental effects to confirm its functioning; the notification about functioning (malfunctioning) is formed at the control panel.”
  • Insufficient supply
    But analogue addressable systems manufactured in Russia appeared back in 2005 and foreign versions were offered much earlier. Analogue addressable fire detectors are now supplied by many market players.
  • Obviously, the reason behind the market specifics is not the lack of offer, but the lack of demand for analogue addressable systems.

    The Demand Structure
    The building and construction industry remains the main consumer of fire alarm systems. With its renewal, the fire alarm market went up again (System Sensor Fire Detectors OOO reports its 50% drop during the crisis).
    Fuel-energy industry and telecommunication companies are among major consumers as security is quite important for them, too. They are choosing the best technologies, because fires are associated with huge financial losses for them. Nevertheless, common users prefer cheapest variants, according to dealers and installers. The matter is they install fire alarms not because they care about fire security but due to tougher sanctions imposed on those who violate preventive fire-fighting regulations. For local companies, installation of a fire alarm system is a sort of annoying necessity.

    The fire alarm market is expected to reach 2008 volumes before long and continue its growth further. The question is whether Russia is going to revise shares of non-addressable, addressable and analogue addressable systems following global trends.
    First of all, it depends on the attitude of Russian companies to fire security, to quality and functionality of equipment they install. Relevant legislation is the second factor here. At present a lot of legislative shortcomings are present, including the above mentioned lack of certain terms in Russian standards (as with “analogue addressable fire alarm system”). In any case, diagrams reflecting gradual increase of analogue addressable system share at the Russian market give certain hopes, even though their growth is slow.

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