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Paul Pope, Business Innovation Manager EMEA at Apollo Fire Detectors advises on how to detect fake fire safety equipment and avoid dodgy devices.

When it comes to fire detection equipment, the rigorous design process, validation testing, testing before and during production and ongoing quality checks that authentic professional companies carry out is key to the reliability of their life safety products. Counterfeit products may, to the untrained eye, look identical, but no copycat product will ever benefit the end user in terms of protecting and saving life as well as one which has been through the meticulous testing procedures of a genuine and reputable fire detection manufacturer.

During and after the design process, our products are subjected to the most comprehensive testing procedures to ensure performance and reliability to real life conditions is achieved. We are the only UK manufacturer to benefit from our own in-house fire test facilities.

The fire testing laboratory allows products to be tested in varying fire conditions, with the conditioning testing offering checks against a wide variety of different conditions, including fluctuating temperatures, humidity, vibrations and shock.

The performance and verification lab comprises of large scale heat, smoke and gas tunnels and the electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC) lab tests against a variety of factors such as noise, interference, static and lightning strike conditions. Finally, the audio and visual (AV) laboratory is used to test the performance of notification devices to exacting standards.

Once the testing stage is complete, a product will proceed to the third party testing stage for the appropriate certification, for example, EN54, before heading to manufacture.



standards, and secondly, their non- compatibility within an overall fire detection system. In a situation where every single piece of equipment, no matter how small, contributes to the safe and effective working of a detection system, the consequences of even one counterfeit element can be devastating.

The authenticity of fire detection equipment should never be taken for granted and should always be verified at source.

The whole testing process can take anything from three to six months for an MCP switch, to up to two years for a new fire detector.

The two main dangers of counterfeit fire detection equipment are firstly, their non-compliance with industry

Checking approval logos and relevant certification numbers on the product is the first step in ascertaining a product’s authenticity. But what if a counterfeit manufacturer copies these logos and product numbers?

Chris Ellis, Laboratories and Validation Manager at Apollo explains how even the small details can give the game away: “Counterfeit manufacturers will try and save money, and this scrimping on quality often shows in terms of their products. An example of these differences includes the grade, and therefore the colour, of the plastic used –genuine detectors tend to be a bright white, whereas counterfeit products are often a creamier-yellow colour. Also, if you take the front off a counterfeit detector, you’ll see a marked difference compared to a modern original. It’s a bit like comparing a 1980s TV with a modern one – counterfeit detectors often use old technology with cheap boards and lots of copper, compared to the modern layered boards used today by reputable manufacturers. Also the quality of the labelling, the fact that the font on the labelling may look ‘cheap’ is a sign that the detector may be an imitation device.”

All of these pointers are great, but what if you are new to fire detection products, or have no genuine product against which you can compare?

The advice that we’d give would be to always use a reputable distributor or supplier, do your background research by looking at a company’s website and checking your device against the images and certificates shown, and above all else, to use your common sense.

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