What Types of Fire Alarm Systems Are There?

Installing a fire alarm system in your premises is absolutely essential to protect your company and your staff against fire. There are of course many different types of fire alarm systems available, from basic conventional non-addressable fire alarms and detectors to fully programmable fire alarm systems. You must think very carefully when deciding which type of fire alarm system you choose, to ensure that the system you pick best suits your fire safety requirements and follows current fire safety legislation. The system you choose will vary greatly depending on several factors the foremost of which arises from your fire risk assessment and then includes your budget, the size of your premises and the needs of the people present.

By law all fire alarm systems should conform to British Fire Safety Standards, so if you’re not sure, get a qualified fire alarm specialist to check that your system complies.

Conventional Non-addressable fire alarms

These systems serve their purpose of detecting fire and then sounding an alarm to warn the occupants of a building about the danger. Conventional fire alarms systems work by having automatic detectors wired on separate circuits (each referred to as a zone) to a central control panel. In multi-story buildings the design will depend on the grade and/or category of a system. Ideally there should be detectors placed throughout each floor, though where a lesser specification exists then the design should pay particular attention to areas where there is a greater fire risk such as kitchens or where flammable materials are stored.

When a fire is detected the alarm should sound and the control panel indicates the zone. This should help detect the location of the fire so that it can be isolated quickly. Conventional fire alarms are best suited to smaller premises.

Analogue addressable fire alarm systems

For protecting larger buildings against the threat of fire, analogue fire alarm systems would be more effective than a conventional alarm system. These systems are wired up to a central control unit that can pinpoint more accurately the exact location of the fire as they display a specific text location description for each detector or alarm device. They also reduce the risk of false alarms as there is more control possible over monitoring systems.

Wireless fire alarms

These can be either addressable or non-addressable system. As the name suggests wireless fire alarms do not require wiring up so are perfect for situations where it may not be possible to install cabling, such as listed buildings or museums where this may appear unsightly. These alarm systems are easy to set up so can be installed on a temporary basis if a short term solution is required. They can have a range of up to 1.5km so are suitable for all size buildings. This is particularly useful for example; in building sites as construction progresses – the alarm system can be moved if necessary. The advantage of these alarm systems is that you are not tied down to one physical location.

Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA)

In situations where it’s critical to know immediately when a fire occurs, VESDA systems are essential. These systems monitor air and can detect smoke before it is even visible. This gives valuable extra time which can saves lives and minimise the impact that fire has on property.

Special fire alarms for deaf and voice alarm systems

Some fire alarm systems are designed specifically for people with hearing difficulties. They allow the alarm system to be connected up to a pager, which will automatically vibrate and send a message in the event that the fire alarm is activated. These have a range of 10,000sq/ft and are suitable for both commercial and industrial use.

Large, busy areas that have several exits may require specific fire evacuation instructions can have voice alarm systems installed, with either live or pre-recorded announcements to provide safety information in the event of a fire. These would be highly recommended for public places such as shopping centres, hospitals or prisons.

Testing and maintaining your fire alarm system

Fire alarms are designed to save lives, so it’s incredibly important to ensure that they are working properly at all times. All systems should be tested on a weekly basis and regular inspections must be carried out by a professional fire alarm technician.

For all your fire alarm system installation, maintenance and servicing needs – contact Euro Fire Protection today on 08000 515 199.

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