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How to Choose a Fire Alarm System

A fire alarm system is essential in order to protect your people and your property. It is a Fire Alarm Buyers Guide downloadlegal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to install a fire alarm system in most non-domestic premises such as offices, shops, hotels and public venues.

Employers and/or building owners also have a legal requirement to have an up to date Fire Risk Assessment (FRA). The FRA identifies the category of system you need and the level of fire safety cover your premises requires. This includes any extinguishers, emergency lights, training or maintenance you may need.

We know from experience that choosing the correct fire system for your organisation can be a bit of a minefield, from knowing why you need one, to which type of system is required and choosing a reliable and trustworthy company to fit it. Which is why we’ve put together this brief guide to help you choose the right system for your business.

Conventional or non-addressable fire alarm systems

These are entry level systems suitable for small offices, nurseries, small hotels, restaurants, warehouses, shops and other small businesses. Often the cheapest system available, they divide the building into different zones, with detectors and call points hardwired on dedicated circuits to the control panel. If a detector activates, the control panel identifies which circuit contains the triggered device and indicates the original location of the fire alarm.

Two-wire fire alarm systems

A two-wire fire alarm system is very similar to a conventional systems as they also suit small businesses. However, a two-wire system allows you to add sounders onto the detection circuit saving the cost of wiring additional sounder circuits. The detectors, call points and alarm devices for each zone are wired on the same set of two-core zone cables back to the control panel. Thus enabling it to use a single circuit per zone both for detection and to power the sounders or sirens. Two-wire systems are more expensive than conventional systems but they are quicker and more flexible to install.

Analogue-addressable fire alarm systems

Addressable fire systems transmit data over the detection circuit and provide detailed information on individual detectors giving the exact location if there is a fire, fault, smoke or heat. These “intelligent” fire alarm systems are suitable for large commercial premises such as hotels, office blocks and large factories. As they are more complex, intelligent and quicker to identify a fire than conventional systems, they are considerably dearer.

Wireless Fire Alarm Systems

Wireless fire alarm systems are ideal for premises with multiple buildings such as schools, colleges, science parks. They also suit historical or heritage sites where cabling is unsightly. They are expensive but have the advantage that no cables need wiring between the detection devices and the control panel. A second advantage is that they are quicker to install and provide just as much protection as conventional wired systems.

Aspirating smoke detection systems

Aspirating smoke detection (ASD) systems can detect small or smouldering fires far quicker than other systems. They work like a vacuum cleaner, sucking in air from around a building via purpose built aspirating pipes and fittings. Then samples the quality of air and generates a warning signal of potential fire if it detects smoke particles.

You can install an aspirating smoke detection system in the same location as a conventional smoke detector. Advantages of ASD over conventional detectors are greater reliability and efficiency. The features include entire airflow analysis and ignition point targeting, with the ability to work alongside existing smoke detection and air conditioning systems simultaneously. ASDs suit buildings that require early warning of fire, such as computer rooms or large warehouses.

For more information please give us a call on 0845 402 3045, or download our free Fire Alarm Buyers’ Guide

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