Discovery Health head office fire system: a case study

August 2001 Fire & Safety

Security & Fire Projects (SFP) was recently awarded the smoke detection, FM200 fire suppression, evacuation and white noise systems for the new Discovery Health head office building in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The smoke detection system installed is based on the Ziton analog addressable panel with fire graphics to further enhance the operator's ability to respond directly to the point of detection.

Addressable control panel

The Ziton ZP3 is an analog addressable fire detection and alarm system, based upon advanced technology developed to provide maximum flexibility through a comprehensive range of modular hardware, supported by highly configurable software.

Scaleable in every aspect, the ZP3 system offers tailor made engineered solutions for all applications, from single panel systems to large multipanel networks. Modular design backed by powerful software enables ZP3 systems to be configured exactly to the needs of any commercial or industrial site.

Up to 127 line devices (sensors, callpoints, sounders or interface units) can be connected to each of the control panel loops. All loop devices incorporate switch settings enabling them to be assigned a unique address, the location of which is pinpointed and polled by the panel every two seconds. Variations in the sensors environment caused by increases of temperature or products of combustion, are reported to the panel, where they are processed and compared to known fire data, prior to any alarm output being activated.

Constant communication between control panel and sensor enables ZP3 to provide a wide range of user facilities including pre-alarm, constant sensitivity adjustment and service and near service listings for all sensor types.

Three control panels have been installed, networked together and communicate via RS232 to the fire graphics computer. SFP is currently installing a fourth control panel to cater for additional detectors installed in the newly created offices within the open plan areas.


The system installed utilises optical smoke sensors for the majority of floor space (including toilet areas), with the exception of kitchens and pause areas where heat detectors are installed.

Each floor is divided into two areas, each area has two detection zones allocated. When both zones have been activated, the fire panel triggers the air-conditioning shutdown for that floor. When the roof smoke extraction vents are opened, the smoke extraction fans are started and the lifts are homed (to ground floor). The access control system also receives a fire override to open the turnstyles on the ground floor foyer.

The building comprise of two sections, each with an atrium spanning from first to fifth floors. Both these atriums have the smoke extraction vents at the top. These atriums are protected by Hochiki beam detectors.

Fire suppression system

The total FM200 supplied is in excess of 1000 kg. In total, there are 17 gas areas installed. Each gas area has a combination of ionisation and optical conventional smoke sensors (wired to two independent detection zones), connected to a standalone Kentech 2-Zone Gas Extinguishing Panel. The common fault, first knock fire and second knock fire conditions of each Kentech panel is monitored by the Ziton building detection system via interface units.

Furthermore, the Ziton fire panel network is connected to a Remrad radio transmission system providing a direct radio link to the Sandton Fire Department. On any fire condition the Remrad system is triggered and an alarm is raised at the fire department. The fire department can then ascertain the extent of the possible fire condition via the radio voice link.

Evacuation system

The evacuation system consists of two sections: one, the automatic evacuation system installed on all the floors distributed throughout the building. The evacuation system is also zoned per floor, each zone automatically triggered by the fire detection system, providing additional sound alarms in the event of a fire.

The system also provides the facility to manually select alarm and alert tones, pre-recorded messages and public address to any zone, each zone individually selectable to the annunciation method required. The second section comprise a manually operated fire telephone intercom, with fire telephones installed at each fire escape route on each floor.

In addition to the above systems, a sound masking/ white noise system is also installed, providing noise masking on all the office floors. This is normally installed in open plan office areas to enhance the level of privacy between people sitting adjacent on the floor.

For further details contact Owen Smit on tel: (011) 496 1701, fax: (011) 496 1216, e-mail:

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