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Fire Alarm System Components: Manual Call Points

Manual Call Points Can Be Reset By Using A Special Key
Manual Call Points Can Be Reset By Using A Special Key

Manual call points are an intrinsic part of a successful fire alarm system – they allow YOU to be a fire detector.

Manual call points, MCPs, break glasses – whatever you want to call them – are used by the public to alert a fire alarm system that a fire has been discovered. They are brilliant for the early detection of fire and are often used before other types of fire alarm detector have sensed other indications of fire like smoke or a rapid increase in temperature.

If you ever see a fire and an alarm is not sounding it would be wise to use the nearest manual call point as early detection of fire can save lives and thousands of pounds worth of damage.

When a manual call point has been used a signal is sent the fire alarm control panel. This then activates the warning devices in the alarm system such as the fire alarm sounders and flashers. If it”s a false alarm the call point can simply be reset by the use of a special key.

The modern manual call points that we are familiar with today were introduced in Europe in the 70s. In those days the element that had to be depressed to trigger the alarm was made of glass, hence earning manual call points the nickname ‘break glass’ in the UK.

Over the years manual call points became a target for vandalism and trouble-makers. In areas where this was commonplace replacing used manual call points became costly and time-consuming. This led manufacturers to develop call points that used only plastic, allowing a used manual call point to simply be reset after use. For extra protection from accidents/abuse many manual call points now come with plastic covers that have to be lifted before the element can be depressed.

BS5839 is the British Standard that governs manual call points, in Europe EN54 applies. This dictates that a manual call point will:

  • have a frangible (breakable) element to activate alarms
  • be installed at a a height of 1.2m so it’s easily accessible by people of all heights and abilities
  • be located throughout exit routes, at stairway entrances and building exits
  • be located at a distance of no more that 45m from another manual call point (or 25m apart for a disabled person)

Discount Fire Supplies sell a range of manual call points including weatherproof versions.

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