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Fire Alarms in Bars, Pubs and Nightclubs

We recently supplied and supported a complete fire detection system which was installed by our partners MJB Electrical in the exclusive West London nightclub Raffles. We have completed many similar project for various bars, pubs and nightclubs throughout the UK which has lead us to writing this article highlighting some of factors to consider and our preferred solution.

According to the London Fire Brigade, in 2016/17, firefighters attended 533 fires in pubs and clubs across London, and they noticed some common factors in the licenced premises that have experienced fires. The common causes of fire alarms were;

  • Electrical Equipment – fire frequently occured when electrical kit including lighting are cited too close to flammable materials.
  • Electrical Faults – often when portable items are not properly tested/maintained or if the electrical system itself is in poor condition.
  • Smoking – if smoking is allowed in inappropriate areas or when smoking materials are disposed of carelessly.

Due to the potential risks and number of fires that have occurred we have found that fire alarm installers who have been asked to quote for new installations in these kind of premises are noticing that the fire risk assessments require certain requirements for the fire alarm systems.

The most common types of requirements are;

  • DJ Cutt Off – these types of premises often have DJ’s or live music playing and in the event of a fire alarm it may be difficult to hear the alarm. It is now often required to interface the music equipment to shut off in the event of the fire alarm activating.
  • Smoke Machines – many nightclubs allow the use of smoke machines, but as the area may be covered by optical smoke detectors this could cause potential false alarms. Due to the nature of the environment it is not advisable to fit heat detection. One way of overcoming this is to fit combined smoke & heat detectors on an addressable fire alarm system. Using the cause and effects on the system you could set the device to be a smoke detector for the majority of the day but when the premises is open, you could then set it to be a heat detector only.
  • Early Staff Warning – in the event of a fire evacuation we have seen the requirement for the fire alarm system to only set off certain areas and shut offs before a delayed full alarm occurs.

When the requirements above have been needed we have recommended the the installation of the Zeta SmartConnect fire panel in conjunction with Zeta MKII protocol devices.

The SmartConnect system is a fully addressable 1 loop system which can have up to 250 devices with full cause & affects which can be done via the front panel or with a laptop. It also has extensive Day/Night programming.

This system has recently been used in a nightclub which used smoke machines. The engineers were able to set up the day and night mode for the multi detectors in the area so that they operated as smoke/heat during the day however between 10PM and 1AM Friday to Sunday they only respond to heat stimulus.

Most recently we have supported a project which specified a 3 minute delay on the full alarm. Upon the start of the fire alarm the relay for the music cutoff triggers, door closers release and only the sounders in the staff areas sound and also the beacons behind the bar flash. This is to enable the staff do have time to determine if there is a genuine fire alarm before the full alarm starts they can also trigger a call point to override the delay if needed. Similarly the SmartConnect offers extensive cause & effect programming options so this was achieved with only a few rules.