Choosing a fire alarm system

Fire alarm systems are essential to all businesses and corporate/commercial use buildings in case of a fire. Fire alarm systems save lives by alerting occupants within a building of the present danger so that they can evacuate a building quickly and safely in the event of a fire.
The type of fire alarm system installed in a building depends on the structure of the building, the purpose of the building and how these two criteria relate to current fire safety legislation. All non-domestic premises including common parts of houses in multiple occupations (HMOs), those premises used by the self-employed (including family-run businesses) and the voluntary sector must comply with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Mains Powered Systems

BS 5839-6:2019 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises.

Types of fire alarm system
Fire alarm systems all generally work in the same way. If a fire or smoke detector detects fire or smoke, or if someone breaks the glass on an alarm system wall unit (known as a manual call point), an alarm will sound to warn people in the building that they need to evacuate due to the risk of fire. It is also possible to have a fire alarm system that sends a signal to a local fire brigade so they are sent out to the building as soon as the alarm is raised. There are four main kinds of fire alarm system, these are:
⁃ Conventional
⁃ Analogue addressable
⁃ Addressable
⁃ Wireless

Conventional fire alarm systems
With a conventional fire alarm system, there are a number of detectors that form a network that is wired to a main control panel in zones. A ‘zone’ is a circuit, and normally there is one ‘zone’ or ‘circuit’ per floor in a building. A conventional alarm system enables you to determine which zone the alarm was first raised in. This makes it easier to determine where the fire originally started and is essential information for firefighters. There is typically an end of line device on all circuits for monitoring. There must always be a zone plan clearly displayed next to the fire alarm control and indicator panel for reference purposes.

Analogue addressable fire alarm systems

With an analogue addressable fire alarm system, you can receive details about individual detectors so that you have a higher level of detail in comparison to details of a ‘zone’ where the fire started. This type of alarm system is most common in large commercial buildings to give better identification of a fire’s source. As a result, they can be more expensive. The fire control panel receives details from each detector device regarding whether there is smoke, heat or a fire present.

Addressable fire alarm systems
Addressable fire alarm systems are similar to conventional systems, except that the control panel is able to find exactly where the alarm was first raised. The alarm system is wired as a large loop, with multiple devices connected. This enables a person to quickly determine an alarm’s location. The positives of an addressable fire alarm system include better handling of false alarms, better reliability, lower wiring costs, and a large loop that is less likely to lose connection.

Fire alarm system design
If you hire a fire alarm system designer, they will need to determine the following information:
⁃ The type of system that is required
⁃ The parts of the premises that need a fire alarm system
⁃ How occupants will be affected
⁃ How the fire brigade will be contacted (i.e. should the device need to do this for you)
⁃ How many manual call points you will require
⁃ Fire safety procedures currently in place
⁃ Any other ongoing work that is currently taking place in the building (contractors may have to be consulted)

Wireless fire alarm systems
Although a wireless fire alarm system is more expensive, for some types of building (such as a listed building), where wiring for a fire alarm system is not do-able or permitted, a wireless system makes a great solution. With a wireless system there are no cables present between the control panel and detection devices, so there is no need for cable testing. All wireless systems must comply with EN54-25 standards, and must have multi-frequency links to ensure that signal strength is high at all times.
RES is an approved Hyfire wireless alarm installer – a brand that is synonymous with advanced and innovative wireless fire alarm solutions. The Hyfire system integrates both wired and wireless devices with industry-standard control equipment.

Fire alarm systems from RES
RES provides comprehensive fire detection and alarm system design solutions, as well as installation and testing/maintenance services to ensure that your building complies with British Standards BS5839 Pt1.

Depending on our inspection of your premises, we may recommend the following products to you that we can install:
⁃ Manual call units (also known as ‘break glass’ units
⁃ Point detectors (to detect smoke, fire, heat, radiation or carbon monoxide)
⁃ Multi-sensor detectors (to reject false alarms by working with currently installed detectors)
⁃ Optical beam detectors (for larger spaces)
⁃ Line type heat detectors (detectors for averse conditions or large industrial spaces such as car parks)
⁃ Aspirating fire detectors (fire detectors that analyse the air and send this air to a central detection unit through pipes)
⁃ Wireless fire alarm systems
⁃ Visual alarms and beacons (in case there is a risk of audio fire alarms not being heard in the cases of disability or building occupants wearing ear defenders)

RES covers the South of England including London, Berkshire, Bracknell, Windsor, Middlesex & Surrey, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex & Kent, West & East Sussex, Reading, Maidenhead, Slough, Newbury and the surrounding areas.

RES has highly experienced fire risk assessment officers, alongside well-trained fire alarm system designers, technicians and engineers. We provide cost-effective yet high quality, industry-standard fire alarm systems for our clients to keep their buildings and occupants safe.