Fire Alarm Systems in malls

I live somewhat near a large mall (Kenwood mall). I am wondering how the system is set up; would all of the stores/restaurants be tied together to a main system or does each store have their own panel and NA’s?

The mall closest to me is set up so that the main interior of the mall (hallways, foodcourt, etc.) and the “standard” sized stores are all tied into the same system. The anchor stores each have their own separate system and I am not sure to what degree the anchor stores’ systems and the mall’s systems are connected. I would assume a lot of other malls are also set up in a similar fashion.

An enclosed mall is a single enclosed space so usually the fire marshal requires general alarm throughout the mall. So these have one main system or several systems networked together acting as one. As for the individual spaces, there are two ways to do that. They can have initiating devices and notifications appliances connected to and operated by the main system with general alarm. Or each space can have a small panel which is monitored by a main system with common area general alarm. It depends on the designing engineer and the fire marshal requirements.

Large enclosed malls are loosing favor to shopping plaza type centers. These have several smaller buildings with multiple stores with open space between and open air walkways. The one I was involved with has a panel for each building operating the devices directly. The panels are all networked to a main security center where central annunciation is provided. Out-parcels sometimes have their own system or can be networked to the main system. In these type systems fiber optic communication between panels is highly recommended for its greater immunity to lightning damage.

In an indoor mall like that, one system covers the entire building and all tenants because general notification is required. Only audible notification is required, strobe’s aren’t. Anchor stores may or may not have their own systems monitored by the main system.

I’ve seen outdoor malls (where the tenant entrances are on the outside of the building) done both ways, with a main system or with each tenant having their own system monitored by a main system. Tenants seem to prefer their own system because they don’t like their alarms going off because of another tenant. Regardless of how it’s done, one fire alarm contractor will do the entire thing, you’ll rarely see mixed systems since the building owner only wants to deal with one fire alarm company and not 20.

It also depends on the size of the mall. I know a couple of medium-sized malls where the whole thing, except for several anchor stores and the movie theater (in one of them), share the same system. Of course, the devices used can vary depending on when the store was remodeled or whatever. One of the malls (the one in my hometown) uses a Notifier NFS-3030 system that is fully addressable, and uses addressable pulls (BG-10s and BG-12s) and detectors throughout the place. Another has a Simplex 4100 system from 1991 set up as a conventional system; many smaller stores have no alarm devices but do have sprinklers and usually a duct detector (as evidenced by the Simplex test stations I see), while the medium-sized stores do use alarm devices (mainly TrueAlert horn/strobes and conventional TrueAlarm detectors; the main mall area has 2901-9838 horns on 4903-9101 strobe plates.)

Now the South Shore Plaza in Braintree is a HUGE mall that has a Simplex 4120 system network; there are some sections that have their own 4120 or 4100U panel, and there are a number of stores that apparently each have their own small conventional fire alarm panel (usually a 4004 or 4006, but sometimes even going the addressable route and using a 4010) with the pulls and smokes tied into it, but the alarm speaker/strobes being tied into the main panel for said section (the whole system is voice-evac). And of course, anchor stores have their own systems too (though the newer Nordstrom and Target had Simplex 4100U systems installed, maybe to allow for better consistency or something?)

There are 3 malls in our area that I have been directly involved with and each one of them is set up completely different:

Mall #1 - There is a FACP for the mall itself, covers the public common areas, service hallways, mechanical rooms, and monitors the sprinkler system. Anchor stores are completely isolated from the mall - no interconnection. The stores within the mall have their own FACP that monitor pulls, smokes, and ducts within the store only. There are also two modules from the mall panel inside the store (usually right next to the store panel); one module monitors the store panel for an alarm and reports as a supervisory back to the mall panel, the other trips the notification devices within the store under two conditions - general ALARM of the mall FACP or an ALARM condition on the store FACP. Notification devices inside the stores are part of the mall panel and not tied directly to the store panel. Kind of a weird setup but it’s what was called for at the time the mall was built.

Mall #2 - FACP for the mall that covers all areas of the mall - common areas, individual stores, sprinkler system, and even three restaurants that are attached but not directly accessible from the inside of the mall itself. But here is where it gets weird - there are four major anchor stores, two are completely isolated, the other two the mall panel is interconnected to their panel but only as a supervisory and only if the anchor store goes into alarm (mall going into alarm does not indicate at their panel). There is also a fourth attached restaurant that is 100% isolated, and a Barns & Noble inside the mall that has it’s own panel but is interconnected both ways for alarm conditions. The worst thing about this mall is that the system is so hacked up it’s not even funny. Flying splices everywhere, improperly installed devices, the panel is in a constant state of trouble. The problem is there is no coordination when a renovation is done in a store - the individual store is responsible for all work and they hire whatever trunkslammer to do fire alarm and sprinkler work. And the mall management washes their hands of any work done inside the individual stores. I was in there shopping a couple weeks and the system went into alarm. I said something to the store clerk and she said it goes off all the time so they just ignore it.

Mall #3 - This is a dead mall that was built back in the late 60’s or early 70’s I believe, and started to decline in the early 90’s. Today there are only maybe 3-4 retail stores left, the rest of the space is taken up by odd entities (there’s a dialysis clinic, the state has an office in there for some sort of family services) or is vacant. In fact, there is a partition wall that separates the mall in half - the section beyond the wall is abandoned and in disrepair, ceilings falling down, roof leaks, mold, etc. I actually have some pictures that maybe I’ll post up here tomorrow - it’s like stepping back in time. Anyway… there is no real FACP for this building. Only a Radionics panel in a service hallway that monitors the sprinkler risers and a single bell directly above the panel. Absolutely no notification devices within the public spaces of the mall itself. But then it was built before this was a requirement.

Our local mall had (it’s going to be demolished) a system with Gentex SHGs and System Sensor 2400 smokes in the main hall. One thing, however was since the SHGs aren’t loud, they weren’t heard very well, I’ve mentioned this before that my Mom was a member of our local Art Center which up until last year had a storefront there. One time the alarms went off and she said no one in the Center heard them. It did have an open front like the other stores, since it had a gallery/retail space, and then there was the back room where the members would mainly congregate for classes, get-togethers and individual/group project work. Younkers has it’s own AT system, unsure if it was connected to the mall’s. Once the demolition starts I’ll see if I can get the old AT Vibratone and 6" bell that was evidently part of the mall’s original system. They were located in a back hall/entryway. I’ll also try to nab an SHG and 1 or 2 2400s.

My local mall has some sort of huge EST system, with Various fire bells (mainly Edwards 439-D series) set to code 3, and 270-SPOs all around. I know there is a few stores with EST Genesis installed in them, though.

All the malls I deal with have a central fire panel for sprinkler systems etc, and all non anchor stores are required to tie into it, but they are allowed to put their own fire system in with smokes, h/s ducts etc. all anchor stores are required to have their own system and are not allowed to tie into mall system because they own building

The malls I deal with have a fire panel monitoring sprinkler system, duct detector, horns/strobes, ect. Stores can put their own fire system in if they want to have smokes, pull stations, duct detectors etc. anchor stores are required to have their own fire systems as they own the building.

Mine just has boring white Wheelock speaker strobes on every wall on the outside of each store. They have ceiling mount speaker strobes on the inside of the stores. No pull stations visible. One store has a white ceiling mount Wheelock exceder