Knowing Fire Protection Design: How Smoke Alarms Differ From Detectors

Knowing Fire Protection Design_ How Smoke Alarms Differ From Detectors

Did you know that house fires kill more Australian residents than all natural hazards combined? This is why it’s so important for homes to have proper fire protection.

This doesn’t just apply to residential homes, of course. Businesses must be serviced by a fire protection design engineer to be safe. If someone gets caught in a burning building without adequate fire safety design, they won’t likely make it out alive.

In this article, we’ll go over some basic fire protection system designs. Specifically, we’ll explain the differences between fire alarms and detectors, and what each component is for.

Components of Fire Protection Design

Fire protection specialists have developed ways to keep ourselves, our employees, and our customers safe during a fire. Fire alarms and smoke detectors are among the components used to protect buildings from fire. However, many people don’t know what the difference is between a smoke alarm and a detector.

When it comes to fire safety and preparedness, there are several parts that make up the whole. Escape plans, unobstructed doorways, working exit lights, and sprinkler systems are just a few things involved.

To keep everyone safe, every part must be working 100% of the time. This especially applies to electrical equipment, such as alarms and detectors. But what’s the difference between a smoke detector and a fire alarm?

As its name implies, a smoke detector detects smoke. That’s all it is—it’s a sensor that recognizes the presence of too much smoke in an enclosed area.

Fire alarms are the mechanisms that actually notify occupants of the presence of fire.

We’ll go into more detail below.

Smoke Detectors

A smoke detector is clearly defined by its name. It contains a sensor that gets activated when there’s an inappropriately high amount of smoke nearby. Smoke detectors can be wired into the building’s electrical system, but residential models can be battery-operated. Detectors with batteries must be tested frequently to ensure the batteries in them are still fresh.

Many smoke detectors have alarms built into them. This is especially common for residential systems. But as a standalone device, a smoke detector only fulfills a single function: to recognize the presence of smoke. After that, it’s up to another system to warn occupants of the fire: the alarm system.

Fire Alarms

When people refer to fire alarms, they’re usually talking about the complete package: smoke (or heat) detectors and alarm system in one. But once again, the fire alarm itself only does one thing, which is to alert others to the presence of danger.

Fire alarms often come with attached sprinkler systems. These spray water down from the ceiling to help dampen or put out the fire. Without a sprinkler system, it’s going to be up to the fire department to put out the fire. Some alarms have a built-in feature that contacts the nearest fire department automatically. This way, if no one is in the building to hear the alarm, the fire crew will still be notified, before the fire gets too big to control.

Although most fire alarms have connected smoke detectors to activate them, another type of sensor can also be used: heat detectors.

Heat Detectors

While smoke detectors recognize the presence of smoke, heat detectors are activated when temperatures rise too high. Most of the time, smoke detectors will be activated and sound the alarm before temperatures have time to rise significantly. However, sometimes a heat detector will recognize increased temperatures first. Either way, having both systems ensures that the alarm will sound at the earliest possible moment.

In certain areas, smoke alarms can be triggered by things like steam, moisture, dust, or cooking smoke. Because of this, heat detectors are often used in places like bathrooms, attics, and kitchens, to avoid any false alarms from smoke detectors.

In environments that frequently become very hot, smoke detectors may be used exclusively to prevent false alarms from heat detectors. This might be the case in poorly-ventilated rooms with exposed windows, particularly in far southern climates.

Choosing the Best Combination

As you can see, neither a smoke detector nor a fire alarm will be useful on its own. You will need both to protect your building from fire, and you may want to use heat detectors as well. It’s worth noting that each component in a fire safety system must be situated in the ideal location to be effective. In a small area like a home, installing a smoke alarm on every floor might be enough. But for a business, you’ll need professional services to get the job done right.

Get a Free Fire Complaint Audit

Simply knowing about fire protection design won’t protect your business. You also need a certified fire protection specialist to make sure your business is safe and businesses who offer fire protection services, equipment, and training with fire protection design guidelines can help you always.

When fires happen, lives are on the line, especially without the right precautions. Don’t waste any time preparing your business for the worst.

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