A manual call point is a device which enables personnel to raise an alarm in the event of a fire incident by pressing a frangible element to activate the alarm system.
A fire alarm call point should be installed at a height of 1.4m above floor level at easily accessible and conspicuous positions. This includes on exit routes, at the entry floor landing of staircases and at all exits to the open air.
A fire alarm call point should also be spaced so that one may always be found within a maximum distance of 30m apart.
There’s always something new you can learn to improve your fire safety knowledge and today we’ll look at yet another key element of your fire detection system – the manual call points (MCP) used to activate your fire alarm. From what they actually do and where to find them to using and testing them correctly – here’s everything you need to know about fire alarm call points.
What is a fire alarm call point & what does it do?
A fire alarm call point (also referred to as a red manual call point or a break-glass call point) is essentially a small box, mounted on a wall which contains a button or a lever that allows you to manually trigger the fire alarm in a building.
They are an essential part of any building’s fire detection system, as they can:
alert everyone inside to a potential fire danger by sounding the alarm get the evacuation process started as quickly as possible sound the alarm even if the automated detection system has failed notify the fire alarm control panel about the area where the fire is alert the fire services about the fire (can be done manually or automatically) activate the smoke management system
Depending on the model of the call point you may or may not have to break a glass to reach the button that activates the fire alarm. Some of the latest designs have been adapted to use depressable plastic instead of glass to reduce the possibility of injury to the user and to discourage any acts of vandalism.
If you happen to uncover a fire at work, sounding the fire alarm using a manual call point is the fastest way to get your colleagues’ attention and prompt them to get to safety. If the fire isn’t big enough to have triggered the automatic fire detection system, your proactive actions could help put the flames under control before the fire has had the chance to spread.
Once the manual call point has been used, it has to be reset manually, using a safety key to revert it back to its original state.
Where should fire call points be located?
Every fire alarm system has multiple manual call points, so if you pay attention, you will spot them in all public buildings – from shared accommodation to office buildings, construction sites, cinemas and theatres, shopping centres, school and healthcare facilities.
Usually, they are located along the escape routes, near the fire exits, so that you can trigger the alarm without slowing down the evacuation process or putting yourself in unnecessary danger. According to the relevant regulatory requirements (BS 5839), call points should be placed:
On each floor of a building No more than 30 metres from any point in the building No higher than 1.4 metres above the floor In a visible & accessible location Additionally, in areas identified as high-risk
Another interesting fact about manual call points is that they should always be installed on the floor side of an exit door leading to a staircase so that when the alarm is triggered, the alarm system can correctly identify which floor the fire has occurred on.
What color are the fire alarm call points?
Manual call points can have more than one function. They come in three colours: white, green and red. The different colors indicate the function of each individual call point:
Red manual call points: Those are the fire alarm call points used to activate the fire alarm, notify the fire services and even trigger the sprinkler or smoke control systems Green manual call points: Those are located next to an exit and they are used to manually release a door while trying to evacuate the building in the event of an emergency White manual call points: Since those don’t indicate a single function, there should be additional signage telling you what this particular call point does. However, there’s one thing white manual call points can’t be used for and that’s to call the fire services
Depending on the fire safety system installed in your building, the manual call points can be set up to have a number of additional functions, such as unlocking or releasing doors, triggering the smoke management system and even turning off the air conditioning system. In any case, if you notice a fire, you should always use the manual call points without hesitation – better safe than sorry!
How often should fire call points be tested?
Manual call points should be tested as part of your weekly fire alarm test procedure. Realistically, not all fire alarm call points can be tested each week. Usually, the testing is done via a rotation plan where a different call point is tested each week to ensure that the entire system works as it should. If there are 12 call points on the premises, for example, you shouldn’t retest the first call point before the 13th week of testing, as all 12 call points should be tested before you repeat the process.
In addition to that, it’s part of the fire marshal’s responsibilities to perform a daily visual inspection of all elements of the fire safety system, including the manual call points. If the call point signage has worn off or if there are any visible signs of damage, then this should be raised with the building’s management team and rectified as quickly as possible.
Last but not least, the entire fire alarm system has to undergo a full safety inspection by a qualified fire safety engineer at least every 6 months. This is when all manual call points will be checked thoroughly by a professional as part of their regular maintenance.
Need a fire alarm system along with manual call points installed? Here at Evacuator Alarms, we specialise in traditional and wireless fire alarm installation for all building projects, from residential buildings to offices and large construction sites.
hat is the purpose of the fire call point?
A manual fire call point allows anyone to trigger the fire detection system in a building by pressing a button or pulling a lever.
When should a manual call point be activated?
If you notice a fire in a building before the fire alarm system has been activated you should trigger the alarm manually by using the nearest red manual call point.
How do fire alarm call points work?
When you activate the manual call point, it sends a signal to the fire system’s control panel, notifying it that there is a fire in the area closest to the call point. As a minimum, this will sound the fire alarm throughout the building. It should also start the fire emergency protocols, including calling the fire brigade.
How many fire call points do I need?
As a general rule, you must have a call point within 30 metres of any location within a building and there should be at least one on each storey. High-risk areas may need additional call points installed.
What colour are the call points that enable you to raise the fire alarm?
Red call points are the ones that allow you to trigger the fire alarm.
Where do manual call points go?
Usually, close to the fire exit at 1.4m height to make sure that they are easily accessible to everyone, including wheelchair users.
What is Manual Call Point (MCP) ?
by Editorial Staff
Manual Call Point is a device for the manual initiation of an alarm.
Manual fire alarm activation is typically achieved through the use of a pull station (term used in USA & Canada) or call point (term used in Europe, Australia, and Asia), which then sounds the evacuation alarm for the relevant building or zone.
Manual fire alarm activation requires human intervention, as distinct from automatic fire alarm activation such as that provided through the use of heat detectors and smoke detectors. It is, however, possible for call points/pull stations to be used in conjunction with automatic detection as part of an overall fire detection and alarm system
In Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, pull stations are generally not used; instead a manual call point is used, which is usually referred to as an MCP, call point or Fire Point within the fire protection industry.
They are used to allow building occupants to signal that a fire or other emergency exists within the building. They are usually connected to a central fire alarm panel which is in turn connected to an alarm system in the building.
Manual call points are used to initiate an alarm signal, and operate by means of a simple button press or when glass is broken revealing a button. They can form part of a manual alarm system or an automatic alarm system. There will be an indicator on the monitoring unit for visual indication to locate the call point easily.
Selection Criteria for Manual Call Points
Following are some minimum requirement applicable for manual call point, however requirements vary from industry to industry.
Manual Call points (MCP) shall be of the break-glass type with protection against accidental operation.
The MCP’s shall be provided with a key operated test facility to enable periodic testing of the alarm contacts without the need to remove or break the glass.
The method of operation shall be clearly indicated by a concise permanent inscription inside the unit and clearly visible from outside including the word ’ Fire. e.g. “Fire: Break Glass”.
The glass shall be designed in such a way as to prevent injuries, when struck by the operator.
The call point shall return to its normal condition when the frangible element is replaced.
The glass shall be properly secured by sealing rings.
The call points shall be equipped with current limiting resistors permanently fitted inside the unit and not wired into terminals provided for field wiring.
Operation of the call point shall Cause a change in loop current to be detected at the Fire and Gas control panel.
The manual call points for hazardous areas shall include encapsulated changeover contacts use with IS monitoring circuits.
A brass hammer or similar operating device shall be provided for call points with means of attachment. Such operating device shall not be capable of producing a spark when struck against the body of the call point.
Manual call point which is usually referred to as an MCP is the point in a building where a switch used manually to activate fire alarm, this requires human intervention. In the automatic fire alarm system, an alarm is triggered through the use of heat detectors and smoke detectors.
Manual call points switches are used along with the automatic alarm system. Usually, they are connected to a central fire alarm panel that is connected to the building’s alarm system.
Manual call points are used to initiate an alarm and operate either by pressing a simple button or by revealing a button when a glass is broken. The monitoring unit will have an indicator for visual indication to easily locate the call point.
Manual Call Point
Manual call point (MCP) is a trigger mechanism which helps in identifying the building or an area where fire has occurred in order to direct the attention of personals to that area. It is a part of fire alarm system.
MCP is basically a switch which is installed at various locations so that it is accessible to everyone who detects a fire to use it to inform others about the same. The switch is put in a mechanical box and a transparent glass is attached to the box using sealing rings. The box is labeled so that one can identify that it is to be used when there is an emergency fire situation. A hammer or similar tool is provided to be used to break the glass.
MCP is accompanied with a visual indication tool to locate the call; for example a plastic flag. If someone breaks the glass to hit the switch then the plastic flag raises in the building thus helping in directing attention of the personals who will act against the emergency fire situation and also to alarm others to stay away from the building or the area.
A MCP unit can be combined with automation to automatically detect the fire using heat or smoke detectors and set off an alarm. MCP comes as wired installation and also as a non-wired or temporary installation. Both provide similar kind of protection and both can be automated. The temporary MCP has an added advantage that it does not require need for a specialized electrician and can be moved from one location to another. They run on batteries unlike the wired MCPs, thus they have to be checked every now and then to ensure that the batteries are working optimally.
The break-glass type of MCP is now being replaced with plastic elements because of the cost of replacing the glass in case of false fire detection. The plastic elements just have to be depressed firmly, they are easy to reset and can be used multiple times. They are also attractive since there is no danger to the person using it unlike the break-glass type MCP.
Types of Manual Call Point
(A) Button type:
The mechanism contains a button which needs to be pressed. The pressing of button raises a visual indicator and also informs about the change in loop current.
(B) Key type:
The mechanism contains a key hole instead of a button which calls on pressing. This mechanism contains key turning as a switch mechanism to alert everyone about the fire which has occurred. In case of false fire detection, the key can be used to easily reset the mechanism.
Uses of Manual Call Point
Although MCP can be used in conjunction with the automated system, they were designed to be used manually. The MCPs are installed at various locations at regular intervals so that they are easily accessible by anyone in case they spot a fire occurring. They can be installed in any type of infrastructure. It is important to install MCPs even if an automatic fire detection system is already installed because automatic systems may be used during the day or at the night or when a process is running. Also, automatic systems have to be disabled if they have to be inspected. If a fire occurred in such scenarios the MCP will be very useful.