It is important to keep employees and visitors to your premises safe, especially from fire. In the interests of safety, it makes sense to invest in fire alarms, however, there are many different options to look into for fire detection.

In the UK guidelines for fire safety are outlined by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This states that all businesses must have “an appropriate fire detection system.” This does not mean that your premises need to have a fire alarm system by law, however many do.

Under What Circumstances Do I Not Need a Fire Alarm System?

The best way to understand if you need an alarm system or not, is to conduct a fire safety risk assessment, you can contact us for more information on this. 

As a starting point if you answer yes to all of the statements below then a fire alarm system may not be a necessity for your premises.

  • Are your premises open plan, one storey, with a simple layout?
  • Are there any high risk substances in your premises such as flammable chemicals?
  • Are any high risk activities such as cooking done?
  • Do you have any vulnerable occupants, such as the elderly, very young, or disabled?
  • Would a fire be easy to spot if it broke out on any part of your business premises?
  • Can someone shouting “FIRE” easily be heard by all occupants?

If you answer no to any of the above questions then it is part of your duty of care to occupants on your business premises to install and maintain a fire alarm system.

What Type of Fire Alarm System Do I Need?

If you have realised that you need a fire alarm system at your business then the next step is to decide on a type of fire alarm. There are three types of fire alarm systems, conventional, addressable and wireless. The UK fire safety legislation doesn’t specify different systems for different types of businesses, so it is generally down to the individual business on what greater serves their needs.

Close up of bright red fire alarm attached to a wall

What is a Conventional Fire Alarm System?

Conventional fire alarms are well suited to small low risk areas. These systems are wired together using cable. A conventional system is made up of closed circuit zones where each zone within the premises has a circuit containing the detectors, manual alarm and sounder. The circuit closes back at the alarm panel, so there will be as many circuits as there are zones. Conventional fire alarm systems are cheap and easy to install, but they are not appropriate for larger buildings as this will lead to an abundance of wiring. There is also the issue of the main fire panel. Yes, it can show which zone in the building the fire is in, but it cannot be any more specific than that, which is problematic for larger areas.

What is an Addressable Fire Alarm System?

An addressable system is better for large buildings as unlike the conventional where each zone is wired back to the main alarm panel, all the zones within an addressable system are within a loop, which reduces the amount of wiring. Less wiring makes it a better system for high risk premises such as schools, care homes and hospitals.

Addressable systems are also able to show the exact location of the fire and not just the zone like a conventional system can. The downside of an addressable fire system is that they are more technically complicated, which makes them more expensive and harder to set up.

What is a Wireless Fire Alarm System?

A wireless system works similar to an addressable system, just without the wires. All the zones communicate with each other as one loop, and in the event of a fire you will be able to see the exact location, rather than just the zone. Wireless systems are especially beneficial in places where you want to minimise the use of cables such as in historic buildings and churches.

Close up of a ‘press to activate’ red fire alarm

Who Can Fit my Alarm System?

Once you have decided on which system will work better for your business premises you will need to get it designed and fitted. At this stage it is important to find a company that is competent in fire safety. At Highland Services we are experts in fire safety systems and can help you with all aspects from designing to future servicing. We also install fire doors for our clients to further secure their premises.

Make your business as safe as possible for your customers and employees by ensuring that you have the right type of fire safety system set up and routinely maintained. Speak to the team and Highland Services if you require any advice or assistance.

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