After the fire protection goals are established - usually by referencing the minimum levels of protection mandated by the appropriate model building code, insurance agencies, and other authorities - the fire alarm designer undertakes to detail specific components, arrangements, and interfaces necessary to accomplish these goals. Equipment specifically manufactured for these purposes are selected and standardized installation methods are anticipated during the design. In the United States, NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code is an established and widely used installation standard.
- Fire alarm control panel: This component, the hub of the system, monitors inputs and system integrity, controls outputs and relays information.
Primary Power supply: Commonly the non-switched 120 or 240 Volt Alternating Current source supplied from a commercial power utility. In non-residential applications, a branch circuit is dedicated to the fire alarm system and its constituents. "Dedicated branch circuits" should not be confused with "Individual branch circuits" which supply energy to a single appliance.
- Secondary (backup) Power supplies: This component, commonly consisting of sealed lead-acid storage batteries or other emergency sources including generators, is used to supply energy in the event of a primary power failure.
Initiating Devices: This component acts as an input to the fire alarm control unit and are either manually or automatically actuated.
- Notification appliances: This component uses energy supplied from the fire alarm system or other stored energy source, to inform the proximate persons of the need to take action, usually to evacuate.
Building Safety Interfaces: This interface allows the fire alarm system to control aspects of the built environment and to prepare the building for fire and to control the spread of smoke fumes and fire by influencing air movement, lighting, process control, human transport and exit.
Manually actuated devices; Break glass stations, Buttons and manual pull station are constructed to be readily located (near the exits), identified, and operated. Automatically actuated devices can take many forms intended to respond to any number of detectable physical changes associated with fire: convected thermal energy; heat detector, products of combustion; smoke detector, radiant energy; flame detector, combustion gasses; carbon monoxide detector and release of extinguishing agents; water-flow detector. The newest innovations can use cameras and computer algorithms to analyze the visible effects of fire and movement in applications inappropriate for or hostile to other detection methods.