Discover the Types and Components of Fire Alarm Systems

By Steven Harrisson, December 26, 2019

Workplace-related fires are the cause of hundreds of millions of dollars in damages annually in Australia, making them one of the most important safety issues for business owners and managers to address. Understanding the differences between the various fire alarm types and the applicable local, state and federal regulations can help determine the best system for your workplace’s particular needs. This guide outlines the different components of alarms and a few tips on how to buy a fire alarm online.

Fire Alarm

Components of Alarm Systems

Modern fire alarms can detect an issue, generate a sound and visual alarm to alert people on the premises, and send information to a monitoring company so that firefighters can be dispatched. The monitoring company may have a protocol for verifying whether the alarm is legitimate or not. The verification can involve accessing a video feed of the affected area or a phone call. This can be important as false alarms can get your business fined. That being said, here are the components that make up modern alarm systems.

  • A Control panel that monitors input and system integrity, sends information and controls the output
  • A power supply (primary and secondary)
  • Initiating devices that can be either automatic or manual Automatic devices include detectors that can detect smoke, heat, carbon dioxide and flame, whereas manual initiating devices require a person to operate them, such as alarm buttons and pulling stations
  • Notifications appliances whose purpose is to alert the occupants. These appliances include fire sounders, speakers and lights.
    Building safety interfaces such as exit lighting and ventilation systems that redirect smoke
  • When you’re looking for a fire alarm online, you will come across systems that may also include a remote display, sprinklers, fire doors, two-way comms, etc. and they can be integrated with other security systems and smart office technologies. Also, keep in mind that commercial alarm systems can be much different than home alarm systems.

Fire Alarm System

What Fire Alarm Do I Need?

There are two basic types of fire alarm systems – conventional and addressable. Both types have their own distinct pros and cons, and they’re different in functionality and how they’re linked.

  • Conventional alarm systems link each of their initiating devices to the control panel with separate wires and they can be set up in zones. When an initiating device is triggered, the system identifies the zone it’s located in, in order to narrow down the location of the fire. For instance, if your building has three floors and each floor is a zone, the firefighters will know which floor is on fire based on the zone that’s triggered. However, keep in mind that the firefighters won’t know the exact location of the fire on the floor. That being said, if your facility is relatively small in size, and you only need one zone – these alarm systems will be ideal for you, simply because they’re affordable and simple.
  • Addressable alarm systems are digital systems, and every device has its own address in the system. In other words, you can pinpoint the exact location of the fire, so firefighters will go directly to it. All of the devices are connected to a single wire that’s looped to the panel. This means that if one end is damaged, the system will still comms to the panel through the other end of the loop. Since every device sits in a loop isolated module, the circuit won’t be broken if it gets damaged or disconnected. Further, these alarms have extra features, like detecting the flow of air through the smoke detectors in order to reduce the risk of false alarms. Additionally, addressable alarm systems are highly customisable and usually used for larger buildings.

Fire Alarm Systems

Who to Buy a Fire Alarm System From?

There are many vendors nowadays, which you’ll have to assess before settling on one. Some of the things you’ll need to consider include experience, whether they offer monitoring services and of course, costs. The vendor you buy from should be familiar with local, state and federal regulations for your location, they should be certified to insect systems and they should have good customer reviews and referrals. As far as monitoring goes, consider whether they have a fire monitoring facility themselves or do they use a third-party vendor? When it comes to cost, consider whether the listed quote includes equipment, installation, warranty and maintenance, and make sure you shop around before settling on a vendor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Candles Set Off Fire Alarms?

Unless we’re talking about multiple candles that are located right below the detector, and the detector is set to high sensitivity, then a candle or two probably won’t set off an alarm system.

Can Fog Machines Trigger Fire Alarm Systems?

Yes, fog machines will usually trigger a fire alarm system. In order to prevent this, you can replace the particle detectors with rate-of-rise detectors that detect the change in heat instead of the flog/smoke/dust floating in the air.

How Often Should You Check the System?

It’s best to test your alarm system at least once a month. Doing so is important to make sure the alarm is fully operational, so you can have peace of mind that it will alert everyone in the premises in the event of a fire breakout.