Types of Fire Alarm Systems

Dec 27, 2019

How does a fire alarm work?

Fire alarm systems have two main functions:
  1. Alert the occupants of a building to a fire emergency enabling a safe evacuation
  2. Notify firefighters of the fire emergency.
Human beings are excellent fire detectors; they can sense heat; see flames, and smell smoke.
 

Options for Fire Alarms

Manual fire alarms are a way for people to alert occupants of a building and the local authorities to a fire emergency

Manual Fire Alarms

Manual fire alarms are a way for people to alert occupants of a building and the local authorities to a fire emergency.

In their simplest form, manual fire alarms can be someone shouting ‘fire’ or ringing a bell to alert others to danger. However, pull stations are the manual fire alarms with which most of us are most familiar today, probably from our grade school days.

Manual fire alarm stations usually come with a pull-lever operation—one pull on the handle breaks the glass rod and sounds the alarm. Much more effective than shouting, triggering a pull station will initiate loud, temporal horns or alert tones followed by a voice evacuation message that will sound throughout the entire building, accompanied by visually flashing lights.
 
Downsides to Manual Fire Alarms
Manual fire alarms have a few downfalls. First, manual fire alarms are only useful if someone is present, awake, and alert in the area of the building in which the fire starts. Then, they rely on the judgment of the person to raise the alarm effectively and recognize fire signatures. Lastly, manual fire alarms can be misused—who hasn’t missed a class or two because someone pulled the fire alarm?
 

Automatic fire alarms imitate the human senses of smell, touch, and sight

Automatic Fire Alarms

  • Automatic fire alarms solve the issues that manual ones do not. Automatic fire alarms imitate the human senses of smell, touch, and sight, providing an alert when people are not present. There are several types of automatic fire detectors: Thermal detectors – detect increases in room temperature
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – detect fire in its early stages, while it is smoldering and producing smoke or senses a build-up of certain chemicals in the air
  • Flame detectors – line-of-sight devices that use infrared or ultraviolet light to detect radiant energy that is indicative of a fire signature

When these detectors are activated, they also will emit a warning sound to any occupants who might be in the building as well as send a phone or radio signal to notify emergency personnel that an event is underway.

Do I need a fire alarm?

Fire alarm systems are critical for commercial building owners. Local building codes will determine the type of fire alarm equipment you are required to have in the building, as well as how often it must be inspected and tested.

For assistance in designing and installing a fire alarm system as part of your business security system, contact us today for a free consultation.

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