Choosing the right fire detection system

August 2019 Fire & Safety

There has been an entrance of new fire detection suppliers into the market recently and existing suppliers have also been introducing new products. It is therefore important to make an informed decision before committing to a product.

Below are several important factors to consider when choosing a fire detection system to install.

For the installation company, client and consultant


Charles Thiong’o.

Availability of equipment is key to ensure that there are no undue delays when an installation has started, and even more importantly, ongoing support and maintenance after the project is completed. Ask what the lead time is to get products that are not off-the-shelf. This is also important should it become necessary to replace equipment in the future.

Technical support and training on the product are crucial to ensure that the installers are not stuck with a product that they cannot install, program or service effectively due to lack of support from suppliers. Installers, commissioners and designers need to attend product training and evaluate, among other things, the competence of the technical support and the general capability of the system or product.

Consultants and end users need to confirm how many installation companies have been trained on that product or system so that they will not be left stranded with a brand that is well advertised, but cannot be serviced by local companies.

Confirm what international approvals the product has and where else the product has been used.

Be sure that the quoted price of the product is for delivery to your office and you do not become responsible for import costs, import duties or courier costs.

Take time to carefully look at the product to see whether the product is as advertised. Among the various things to check, is how easy it is to install the product. Confirm if there are any special tools required to program the system and how this affects the system in terms of maintenance and installation.

Peer review is important. Check with other installers what experience they have with the product or the supplier. FDIA has a platform where questions and comments are posted without bias or malice and many have gained from the insights and experience of other installers.

Cabling is an important part of an installation and installers need to be extra careful of where they get their cables from, as many cheap imports have been found on sites. If you’re offered cable at half the price of other suppliers, it may be because it is a cheap import that may not comply with SANS 50200, BS 8434-2 as referenced in SANS 10139.

Beware of companies that claim their cable is FDIA approved as the FDIA does not approve cables.

For the product supplier

The installation company needs to have its key personnel duly registered by SAQCC Fire D&GS, in their categories of competence. Confirm on the SAQCC Fire website if the personnel are registered and which companies they work for. Any good product may end up being installed incorrectly and creating a bad image for the product. Suppliers who truly care about the reputation of their product will be reluctant to sell to individuals or companies that are not trained on their product.

We continue to encourage all end users and consultants to only use FDIA registered contractors as they have the commitment, capability and mandate to ensure that not only is your fire detection system installed correctly, but is serviced and maintained as per the required standards and regulations.

Kindly note that the FDIA is no longer issuing membership certificates to its members due to several non FDIA-registered companies faking FDIA membership certificates. Please visit our website www.fdia.co.za to see the current and active members of the FDIA.


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