There’s no doubt that in most cases fires can be prevented. Undertaking a fire risk assessment for your office or property and ensuring you have effective policies and procedures in place should reduce the potential of damage and threat to life.
Having the right equipment on site for when there is an outbreak of fire will give everyone the chance to get away safely. One of the most important, of course, is the early warning signal that smoke alarms provide.
According to current law and organisations from the Health and Safety Executive, every business should carry out a fire risk assessment to make sure they have the right fire safety measures in place, including smoke alarms.
What is a Smoke Alarm?
This is a standalone device that fits to a ceiling or wall and produces a high-pitched alarm if smoke is detected. Smoke is often produced prior to flames breaking out so it can act as good early warning sign that will mean action can be taken quickly and the premises vacated.
Domestic Vs Commercial Smoke Alarms
There is a big difference between the requirements in your home and that of a commercial property. In a domestic property, you may have one or two, battery powered (or mains fed), smoke alarms perhaps one upstairs and one downstairs. If you live in a block of flats, there will be additional alarms on each floor.
For commercial premises, much depends on the type of building and how it is designed. A small office will have vastly different requirements to a large warehouse. For larger office complexes and big buildings, smoke and fire alarms need to be tailored to specific requirements and there is more design and planning needed to get things right.
The key here is to provide as much coverage as possible. If, for example, you have several small offices, each will need its own, individual smoke alarm. In the end, it’s better to have too many smoke alarms than too few.
Types of Smoke Alarm
You can choose between four different types of smoke alarm on the current market:
- Ionisation alarms are the most cost effective and pick up the presence of very small particles of smoke. While these can be a little too sensitive for areas like kitchens, they are easy to install and lightweight, as well as reliable for most other locations.
- Optical alarms will detect bigger smoke particles and are a little less sensitive than ionisation alarms. They are also more expensive but suitable for areas such as just outside the kitchen.
- Heat alarms are not sensitive to smoke but pick up changes in temperature that can be produced during a fire. That means they are ideal for kitchen areas because they won’t suddenly go off when someone burns toast.
- Combination alarms can spot both heat and smoke or smoke and carbon monoxide.
For those with a large commercial property, the chances are that you will require several smoke alarms strategically located throughout the different areas. These can be connected so that they all go off at the same time when a fire breaks out. If you have carried out a detailed fire risk assessment for your property, this should highlight areas where you need to install smoke alarms and which ones are appropriate to use.
If you have any questions regarding installing appropriate smoke alarms, or would like a second opinion on your existing setup contact us on 0330 6600264 or email [email protected]
Until next time… stay safe!