They say fire codes are written in blood for a reason. In 2021 alone, a firefighter in the US responded to a fire every 23 seconds, causing thousands of civilian casualties and $15.9 billion in property damage. So, what is a commercial fire alarm system and how exactly does it work?
Commercial fire alarm systems are more than a requirement in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes and International Building Code (IBC). They are life-saving protection systems that can preserve lives, mitigate property damage, and potentially protect your business.
While setting up your commercial fire alarm system might sound complicated, these 3 questions can help break down the factors you should consider in going about this major life-saving step.
If you are wondering whether your commercial facility even needs a fire alarm system, think of “occupancy.” Occupancy is the primary consideration of NFPA when it comes to mandating and determining the type of fire alarm system a facility needs. If your property is occupied by people, then you need to install one.
However, different facilities need different fire alarm systems. So when it comes to determining what commercial fire alarm system you would need, the first step is classifying your facility’s category.
Here are the three facility categories your property can fall under:
Now that you’ve nailed down your facility’s category, it is now time to determine what commercial fire alarm and fire alarm system you would need. Most of the time, a fire risk assessment will recommend what setup your facility needs.
But first, what is a commercial fire alarm system? And how is it different from a fire alarm? While these two terms sound interchangeable, each represents different levels of fire protection—think of how smoke detectors are different from a fire alarm system.
Fire alarms such as smoke detectors are the actual fire detection and alarm devices, while fire alarm systems are the wider network of these fire protection schemes and life safety solutions, circuits and tools that detect, control and monitor the status of a fire. Fire alarm systems are made up of components that operate the alarm, feed into the alarm, and are triggered by the alarm, such as emergency lights, fire sprinklers, and evacuation systems.
Before we discuss fire alarm systems, it is crucial to first know the types of fire alarms that make up this larger network of life safety ecosystem.
Fire alarms detect smoke and fire using various sensors and technologies. Here are some of the different types of fire alarms commonly used in households and businesses nowadays:
While fire alarm systems can be comprised of different fire alarms, how these tools are set up can define the type of fire alarm system. But regardless of the setup you prefer, hiring an experienced fire alarm technician can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your alarm system.
Installing a commercial fire alarm system is just one step in defending yourself against potential fire damage. Just like your plumbing or electrical network, your fire alarm system also needs regular fire alarm inspection and maintenance to ensure its components are still functioning accordingly.
Remember, the potential property damage and loss of life a fire can cause far outweighs the cost of any fire alarm system. Not to mention the lack of fire alarm systems can invalidate insurance claims, too.
So when it comes to wise business decisions, investing in a commercial fire alarm system is one of the safest bets you can make.