The fire alarm system in your office is extremely important. You want to make sure that the system is effective in alerting you, employees, and clients in the case of a fire to avoid extreme damage to the building and injury and death to all present. It is a common conception that all fire alarm systems are similar and function the same but the process of choosing the right setup for your business can be more complicated than expected. Below are factors to consider when choosing a fire alarm system for your office and will ensure you get the one that you need.
1. Size and layout of building
The size and layout of your building will largely determine what fire alarm system you need. If your business has multiple floors, there should be an alarm on each floor. If the structure is spread out or separated into wings, you should have an alarm approximately every 500 square feet. It is beneficial to have your smoke alarms wired together if your office is large so if one alarm goes off, the entire system will provide an alert. Pull stations, a switch that an occupant can pull to alert others to a fire, should be considered as well and installed along pathways to various exits. These give the opportunity for an employee to sound the alarm in the off-chance the installed detectors do not sense the danger and sound in a timely manner.
To ensure that attention is drawn to the fire as soon as possible, it is essential that your system is monitored around the clock. When the system is monitored, a signal is sent to a monitoring company when the fire alarm goes off. The company then will either call your business to confirm help is needed or will call first responders automatically on your behalf that will attend, extinguish the fire, and provide assistance. Some systems will be monitored by the fire department directly who can attend as soon as they receive a signal of a fire on the premises.
Depending on the needs of your employees and clientele, you may need to seek a fire alarm with some extra features that will guarantee everyone will be alerted in case of a fire. For instance, if your business is larger and involved in dealing with members of the public, a system that includes a 2-way public address feature may be beneficial so you can confirm the issue and give evacuation instructions. Another example would be for hearing impaired employees or clients, a system with flashing lights or a paging device given to them that vibrates when there is danger would be helpful to ensure everyone is alerted to the fire and can then evacuate.
4. Type of alarm needed
There are many types of fire alarms so you need to determine the kind you need for your business. There are three common types of devices used in offices. Smoke detectors can detect flames, smoke, or both. Heat detectors, while not ideal in providing early warnings to danger and can be problematic in places with heat fluctuations, can detect rising temperatures indicative of a fire. Flame detectors are used more in detecting large-scale fires with the use of infrared and ultraviolet technology. The alarms are separated into two categories: addressable and conventional. An addressable alarm pinpoints the exact area of the alarm and as a result they are better suited to cover large office buildings. A conventional alarm can only identify a zone where fire or smoke is present so they are more appropriate in a smaller setting.