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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Siemens fire safety systems blaze a trail of innovation

By Linda White
Special to The Toronto Sun

When designing fire safety systems, the size of a building and how it is used are among the factors that must be considered, reports the company that has installed systems at Canada's busiest airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport.

"We utilize detection technology specific to the environment they're in," says Dan Wager, area manager for Siemens Building Technologies. "At an airport, you're dealing with a system that has unique requirements."
Fire safety systems are "critical" to construction, says Dan Wager of Siemens Building Technologies.

Siemens is a leader in both fire safety products and services. Fire safety involves systems and services for fire detection, fire extinguishing systems, gas alarm devices and the evacuation of buildings. Protection starts with risk analysis, which leads to the design and engineering of fire safety systems installed in all sorts of buildings.

Siemens installed a fire safety system at Pearson's Terminal 3. It integrated that system with the new terminal development project, which features numerous facilities. New technology gives Siemens the ability to interface those facilities together and maintain and manage them from a central site, Wager explains.

"It's a critical part of the job," Wager says. "It has to be up and operating before the building can open."

It's just one of many types of projects Siemens is involved in. "We are also heavily involved in large commercial towers, hospitals, public facilities and smaller industrial and retail sites," Wager says.

While fire safety systems can be fairly standardized, no building requirement is the same as another. Engineers adapt the most reliable technology to the specific needs of a given building.

Wager points to industrial buildings as an example. Older fire systems wouldn't be able to detect the difference between heat from a welding machine and that from a fire, but "intelligent" fire detection systems can.

"They dramatically reduce the risk of fire alarms...They utilize detection technology specific to the environment they're in," he says.

"In a large commercial tower...the system is designed to detect the location of a fire with a high degree of specificity and issue specific directions with minimum disruptions," Wager says.

Electricians typically install most of Siemens fire systems. Commissioning and testing the systems requires someone with a varied skill set that includes experience in electricity, electronics, computer programming, computer graphics, mechanical engineering and customer service, Wager says.

In addition to fire automation, Siemens Building Technologies operates two other divisions in Canada: building automation (involving systems and services for building and energy management) and security systems (systems and services for access control, surveillance systems and intrusion detection).

"All three divisions integrate together," Wager says. "They work together to provide common platforms and integrating technologies."

Siemens Canada Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Siemens AG of Germany. Siemens in Canada is comprised of eight operating companies, including Siemens Building Technologies.

It is involved in a wide range of design and development projects in the automotive, medical, electrical, telecommunications and computer software fields.

Siemens has been active in Canada since 1912 and has 70 offices and nine manufacturing locations across the country.

Its corporate headquarters is located in Mississauga. Siemens is the second largest electrical engineering and electronics company in the world.

(Linda White ( is a freelance writer based in Brooklin, Ont.)

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