What is the purpose of a fire alarm system?

Some of the most time-sensitive emergencies are those involving fire. When a fire breaks out, timing is everything. Fire can grow in strength rapidly, and by the time you notice it on your own, it can often be too late to do anything about – and worse, too late for you and your fellow occupants to escape. Informing what can be a large group of people all at once, when they could be anywhere in the building is a difficult task to complete, one that cannot be done by one person. It’s for this reason we have fire alarm systems – to inform the occupants of the danger fire is posing and helping them react accordingly.

A fire alarm system exists in any building to provide multiple sources of detecting a fire and other fire-related dangers, such as those brought on by poison gases. Once the fire is detected, the fire alarm system will trigger alarms, notifying all occupants of the danger at hand so they can evacuate to safety. Many will even contact the fire department in the event of the alarms going off to ensure a speedy rescue.

How does a fire alarm system work?

A fire alarm system is made up of several components all working together, much like a security system. Many of these components detect certain signs of fire, while others exist to inform the fire department of the emergency and to alert your occupants of the danger so they can all evacuate in a quick, orderly fashion. Common components include smoke detectors, heat detectors, pull stations, and carbon monoxide detectors for detection components, while alerting components consist of strobes, alarms horns, and fire alarm monitoring.

Smoke detectors are what many people envision when thinking about fire alarms. When a smoke detector is exposed to smoke particles, a system within it is set off, which will trigger the fire alarm. The same goes for heat detectors. Some fires don’t smoke as much as others, and some rooms, such as kitchens and dusty areas, cannot have smoke detectors without setting off false alarms. Heat detectors make an excellent stand in, triggering the fire alarm in the event of either detecting the heat in a room reaching a certain point, or in many cases, detecting the rate that the temperature is rising and triggering the alarm upon detecting this rapid increase in temperature. All of these different signals for a fire have a specific device to detect them – but all fire alarm systems need a fail-safe in case these detectors don’t work properly. Pull stations exist in the event that an occupant notices a fire before any equipment notices it. Typically comprised of a box with a lever within it, pulling the lever will instantly set off the fire alarm.

The alarm in question for fire alarms is an equally important aspect to simply detecting the presence of flames. Once fire is detected, the occupants of the building have to be informed quickly and immediately that there is a danger present. Alarm horns are among the most iconic feature in a fire alarm system, and what many people think of when they imagine a fire alarm. These horns provide the characteristic alarm sound that tells all occupants in the building that there is a fire and to evacuate at once. This use of a loud sound above the expected ambient noise level will help with informing the masses, but what about people who may be hard of hearing? Thankfully, strobes are a required component for fire alarm systems in most buildings, giving a visible flashing light effect in sync with the alarms, so anyone, even those who cannot hear, are able to know that an evacuation is in progress. Simultaneously, while the detectors activate the alarms, in many cases they will also begin activating a call to a fire monitoring station, connected wirelessly or over phone wire, which will dispatch the fire department to the scene of the emergency immediately.

Why you should have a fire alarm system

Having a fire alarm system is not only good sense, but in most places, it’s the law to have one. But even if it wasn’t required by fire codes to have a fire alarm, having one installed in any building is a wise idea. A fire alarm is the quickest, most convenient way to inform occupants of a fire. Keeping your occupants well-informed of the dangers a fire brings can make all the difference in protecting the lives of many. Installing a fire alarm system with multiple fail safes – heat detectors and pull stations alongside their more common smoke detectors – will ensure that a fire will not be able to go unnoticed in any capacity when the time comes to report on the emergency.

In 2020 alone, the NFPA estimated a total of $8.7 billion dollars in direct property damage from fire. A fire alarm system is also key to minimizing how much damage your property takes on during such an event. Additional fire alarm gear, such as fire suppression systems, which include items like overhead sprinklers or foam fire suppression agents, can also prove fruitful to a fire alarm system. Connected systems can be triggered by heat detectors present in the fire alarm system, allowing the fire to be slowed down or entirely put out before it can cause too much damage. Fire alarm systems with suppression systems installed can help lower the costs of fire damage by a great deal.

Fire is unpredictable, unquenchable, but it is not unstoppable. You can never know when a fire will break out or what the cause of it might be, so ensuring you have an up-to-date fire alarm system installed should always be a priority to maximize your safety. Additionally, having a fire alarm system isn’t the be all end all of fire safety. Ensure that any occupants are educated on an evacuation plan in case of a fire, to ensure they are aware of what to do should a fire break out. Having your fire alarm system installed or serviced isn’t difficult – to get it done professionally, you only have to reach out to Cunningham Security to get started.