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Choosing a Fire System for Your Business
In addition to protecting your assets, employees, and commercial property from security threats, you’ll also want to safeguard against other dangers like fire. A commercial fire alarm system is a crucial component of any business, small or large. But each property and building is unique, with specific concerns that relate to the site, the size of the business, and the kinds of protections needed. You’ll want to invest in a fire alarm system that provides the earliest possible warning to minimize loss of property and danger to employees in the event of a serious fire.
And it’s not just about installing a modern, up to date commercial fire system. It’s also about maintaining it, keeping the system up to code, testing it per fire code, and ensuring vital components get replaced as recommended.
You’re probably most familiar with residential fire alarms that involve a few smoke detectors, but commercial fire systems are more complicated. Let’s look at how these systems work and then discuss the types of alarms and the features you should look for in a commercial fire system.
How do Commercial Fire Alarm Systems Work?
The heart of a fire alarm system is the control panel or brain of the system. And much like a security system, it coordinates components and responds swiftly to triggered sensors. Detection devices or sensors come in a variety of forms, including straight-forward smoke detectors or more sophisticated sensing equipment that can combine other functions. Detection devices are designed to identify the presence of smoke or particles of combustion. Some commercial fire systems also have alarm notification devices such as annunciators, sounders, speakers, horns, and strobe lights that inform occupants that a fire condition exists.
When even a small amount of intense heat or flame is detected, commercial fire systems can automatically transmit a signal to the main panel which will cause the system sound devices such as a horn or bell. That alarm signal is then communicated to an on-site or off-site monitoring center to verify the alarm and dispatch authorities swiftly. Some of the more modern systems can give specific coordinates regarding where the fire was detected.
Commercial fire alarm systems often require plans, permits and inspections to ensure the components are installed according to the latest fire safety codes. Therefore, it’s recommended that these complex systems are installed by specialists in the commercial fire system industry.
Types of Commercial Fire Alarms
There are several different kinds of fire alarm systems, and the one that you chose for your commercial property will depend on the needs of your business and employees.
Automatic or Manual Fire Alarms
These types of alarms are precisely what they sound like- devices that deploy warnings of risk. Automatic fire alarms send an audio or visual alert when a fire is detected to the occupants of the building. Manual fire alarms, such as pull stations, are triggered by occupants of the building when a fire is suspected.
Conventional vs. Addressable vs. Hybrid Alarms
Conventional or traditional fire alarms are have been around for many years and are normally better suited for smaller buildings. Addressable fire alarms, however, are considered more intuitive. They allow you to pinpoint exactly which device has been activated. Hybrid alarms, as the name suggests, is a combination of the two approaches.
Wireless or Radio Fire Alarms
These fire alarms are especially helpful for larger buildings or multi-site commercial properties where signals may need to travel a long distance and hardwiring would be impractical. By installing multiple RF devices a mess network is created, saving both time and money.
VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus)
These types of fire detection systems involve continually sampling the air rather than just relying on smoke detection. They provide an earlier warning in buildings like theaters, jails, or concert venues where evacuation may take longer.
Available Features and Options
The features you’ll want in a commercial fire alarm system will depend on the fire hazards present in your building, the type of business you operate, and the size of your property. Here are just a few of the features you may want to consider in a commercial fire alarm system:
In addition to audio and visual notification, fire systems can also have audio instructions that informs building occupants that a fire is no progress and they need to evacuate immediately. Voice evacuation is normally required in assembly halls, educational facilities, and larger buildings with many occupants.
Fire System Monitoring
Commercial fire alarms are one of the security measures you’ll want to connect to 24/7 monitoring. That way, if an alarm is triggered, the source of the fire can be quickly identified and authorities dispatched swiftly to ensure minimal loss of property.
Emergency Door Release
When an alarm is triggered, some commercial fire systems will automatically unlock emergency doors in the zone where the fire is detected.
Some commercial fire systems also integrate the detection of poisonous gasses like carbon monoxide, triggering alarms when a certain threshold of safety for omissions has been breached.
Benefits of Commercial Fire Alarm Installation
One of the obvious benefits to a fire system is the early warning you’ll receive that allows you to dispatch authorities swiftly and prevent property loss or loss of life. But there are also other benefits that should be part of the decision about investing in a commercial fire alarm system and installation.
Of course, the primary function of an alarm system is to provide the early warning necessary to evacuate the building safely.
Commercial fire systems enable building owners to protect their investment. When a fire alarm occurs, dispatchers will immediately notify the local fire department so that damage is minimized.
Less False Alarms
Having a certified fire alarm system that is professionally installed and maintained can cut down on false alarms, resulting in less disruption to your business and avoiding costly fines.
While commercial fire systems certainly have an up-front cost in terms of equipment and installation, they reap long-term benefits. In addition to minimizing property loss, a professional fire alarm installation can reduce insurance rates.
Why Choose American Alarm Systems
American Alarm Systems has experienced fire alarm technicians that work closely with local fire authorities to design, install, inspect, and maintain commercial fire systems. They stay up to date on the latest fire codes and assist in securing permits and ensuring that your business is equipped with the best fire protection available.
Fire alarm solutions from American Alarm can provide vital early warning to facility managers and building owners, letting you see what’s happening in real-time and working with you to verify and dispatch authorities. American Alarm will partner with your business to ensure your fire system remains up to date by periodically inspecting and maintaining your equipment.
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