Fire alarms are an essential component in effective fire protection. However, they are often misunderstood. Like any element of fire protection, fire alarms need to be maintained and tested to ensure that they are working properly. It’s also essential that everyone in the building receives proper training so that fire alarms can be effective.
Fire alarms – the basics
The main purpose of a fire alarm system is to provide early warning of a situation that could be detrimental to the occupants of the building. A fire can start and go unnoticed for some time without fire alarms. By the time the danger has become obvious, escape routes may be blocked and individuals already overcome by side effects of a fire, such as smoke.
The early warning trigger of a fire alarm gives people time to escape and call the emergency services, which could be essential, not just when it comes to saving lives but with respect to preservation of property too.
Issues with false alarms
The London Fire Brigade attends more than 100 false alarms every day. False alarms not only waste resources but can also be dangerous – frequent false alarms can make people complacent about responding to an alarm when they hear it. Automatic alarms can be triggered by a range of factors, from cigarette smoke to aerosol sprays. There are some easy ways to avoid false alarms, including:
• Ensuring the alarm system is well maintained
• Installing an alarm system that is suitable for the building and its needs
• Investigating frequent false alarms to identify and remove the cause
• Getting expert advice on alarm and fire protection systems
• Training staff to establish what constitutes a false alarm
How to get the most from your fire alarm system
Do your research before making an investment
Get specialist advice if necessary. Does the alarm system you’ve chosen work with the premises and the people?
Don’t skimp on expertise
Work with professionals when it comes to the design and installation of the fire alarm system if you want to get the most from it.
Focus on maintenance
Like any technology, a fire alarm system won’t work if it isn’t being properly maintained. Get advice on how to maintain your fire alarm system and how regularly this should happen.
Make someone accountable
It’s important to allocate responsibility for a fire alarm system so that someone is accountable if it isn’t properly looked after.
Integrate it into a wider fire prevention strategy
Fire alarms can’t be effective in isolation. It’s important that you have a fire prevention strategy that includes in-depth fire risk assessment and emergency planning – fire alarms are a crucial part of that but not the only element.
Regularly review your needs
If the building design changes or the number of occupants increases then it may be necessary to review the fire alarm system that has been installed. A regular review means that you’ll always know you have the best possible system in place for the business.
It’s essential for anyone with responsibility for a building to understand how fire alarms work and what needs to be done to maintain them. Specialist advice may be key in terms of getting the most from what you invest.