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Fire alarm, 1851

1851: The Berlin fire alarm system

In 1851, Werner von Siemens designed an electric fire alarm system that was first used in Berlin. It was made up of familiar Siemens pointer telegraphs and alarm units of a special kind, dubbed "fire buzzers."


In addition to the city's 36 police stations, the Ministries of the Interior, War and Foreign Affairs were equipped with pointer telegraphs, as were the royal palace, three barracks, the office of the chief of police, the royal post office and the main fire station. Six secondary fire stations got only a "fire buzzer."  This was the first fully planned system of the kind to be installed in Europe, if not the entire world.


But it had its weaknesses. In a major fire, or in a panic, it was often impossible to ensure that the pointer telegraphs would be operated properly. For that reason, Werner von Siemens soon designed a significantly more user-friendly fire alarm: you only had to pull a handle to trigger an alarm automatically at the central station. The device was introduced in 1852, the very year the previous system was completed.

The Sinteso S-Line fire detector, 2004

2004: The Sinteso S-Line fire detector

It's not uncommon for conventional fire detectors to be set off by mistake – for example if they interpret steam as smoke and trigger a false alarm. But the new Sinteso S-Line fire detectors of 2004 were largely immune to that kind of error. They contained a variety of sensors for such factors as heat and smoke that were linked via ASA, a new analytical technology developed by Siemens.


The smart fire detectors in the Sinteso line saw a further improvement in 2009.  Siemens multi-criteria fire detectors had two optical sensors, one of which was especially sensitive to bright smoke and the other to dark smoke. That enabled the alarms to quickly and reliably detect all kinds of fires, from smoldering to open conflagrations.


They also measured carbon monoxide (CO), a lethal gas that develops during fires. The additional carbon monoxide sensor enables these alarms to detect fires early even in environments with deceptive ambient factors.

The Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, 2007

2007: The latest building technology for the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai

In 2007, Siemens developed the fire protection and evacuation system for the 421-meter Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai – the tallest building in China to that date. The building was outfitted with 10,000 fire detectors, 7,700 smoke detectors and 100 system control centers that could detect the slightest puff of smoke. In the event of a fire, they would automatically trigger the programmed evacuation procedure for the total of 88 floors. 


Modern building technology also significantly reduced energy consumption. As a result, the energy-saving contracting business model could guarantee certain energy savings, which were used to finance building management. Up to 2007, Siemens had provided energy-saving contracting for some 6,500 building projects all over the world. The guaranteed savings came to about a billion euros and the CO2 reductions amounted to 2.4 million metric tons. 

The Desigo CC building management system in operation, 2017

2014: The Desigo CC system

In 2014, Siemens' Desigo CC building automation system set a milestone in building technology. It was the world's first management station to integrate all systems within the building – heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fire detection, security, energy management, lighting, window shades and more.


Desigo CC was an open platform based on standard prot