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What Is a Control Room?

B. Turner
B. Turner

A control room is a dedicated room within a building used to house fire protection equipment. These rooms are found in both commercial and large residential facilities, and are designed to maximize the speed at which emergency personnel can contain or control a fire. A control room is home to many types of equipment, including building control systems, fire alarms, sprinkler, and security systems.

Many building codes contain sections related to control room design and layout. In areas without applicable building codes, builders may work with local fire marshals to determine the most effective layout for this room. Specific requirements can vary by region, but many of these rooms must meet minimum size requirements to allow access to all fire protection equipment. Some codes may include information of specific features and elements that should be placed in these rooms.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Many types of fire protection equipment and other components can be found in a control room. These rooms house the building's fire alarm panel, which can help emergency workers track fire and smoke within the structure. The control room is also home to the sprinkler control panel, which allows for monitoring and control of the sprinkler system. This room may also feature a special phone line designed to work even when building phone systems are inoperable, as well as a public address system to alert occupants of danger. Some also include a key cabinet to allow maintenance and rescue workers to quickly locate keys for any access point within the building during an emergency.

While electrical and heating equipment is often located in a dedicated room, some equipment beyond that required to operate fire protection systems can be found in the control rooms. For example, in a building with an elevator, the control room will often contain equipment that allows workers to operate the elevator during an emergency or outage. These rooms may also include security equipment that enables workers to unlock all doors in the building to allow all occupants to exit as quickly as possible. A control room may also contain controls related to the HVAC system, which allows workers to stop the spread of smoke through the building's ventilation system.

A control room often serves as a point of refuge during a fire or other emergency. This means that workers must be able to safely use this room even as flames and smoke threaten spaces outside of the room. To keep workers safe, these rooms are often subject to positive pressure ventilation, which helps to keep smoke or other harmful fumes out of the room. They also feature extensive firestopping and seals, and are typically equipped with a door that exits directly to the outside to maximize exit speed and safety.

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      Man with a drill