Do Commercial Fire Alarms Need to be Hardwired?
Fire alarms need to be fitted into pretty much every commercial building to meet the provision in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which states that an ‘appropriate fire detection system’ must be installed.
When you start doing your research into commercial fire alarms, you’ll quickly discover that you can get systems that are wireless or hardwired. If you’re wondering about the regulations surrounding what type of fire alarm system you can install, this article will tell you all you need to know.
What are hardwired fire alarms?
Hardwired fire alarm systems are ones that are powered by a central control panel – in practical terms, that means that every part of your system needs to be physically connected by wires. They will have a battery backup installed, however, so that you’ll still be protected even in the event of a power cut.
What are wireless fire alarms?
Wireless fire alarms use radio frequencies to connect the different parts of your fire alarm system and the detectors, callpoints and sounders will generally be powered by batteries. While this theoretically means you run the risk of being unprotected should your battery run out, you would be alerted well before that happens, while regular – and legally required – maintenance would also ensure that your alarm batteries were fit for purpose.
Choosing between hardwired and wireless fire alarms
There are no regulations specifying whether commercial fire alarms need to be hardwired or wireless. Modern wireless systems can work effectively even in larger buildings, so which you go for is largely going to come down to personal choice and practical considerations.
Personal choice: if you’re going for a cleaner, less cluttered look for your business premises, you may prefer the wireless system to keep things clean and simple. Alternatively, although you are very unlikely to be left in the lurch by a drained battery, there are some who prefer the solid reliability of a hardwired system.
Practical considerations: for many businesses, this is going to be the deciding factor, because installing a wireless system is going to be a lot quicker and cause considerably less disruption than having a hardwired system installed, particularly when retrofitting or adding detection following a risk assessment
Risk assessments and fire alarms in commercial buildings
Fire detection and alarm systems in commercial buildings are covered by BS 5839-1 and are broken down into two categories, L (Life) and P (Property). The main function of a P-category system is to protect the building and/or its contents and so predominantly features automatic detection systems; meanwhile, the L category is about protecting the lives of those in the building at the time of a fire, so these systems will always have an alarm function.
A fire risk assessment in a commercial building will make a recommendation for which category and level of coverage is most appropriate to your particular circumstances, although this may change if the use of or the risks in a building change.
For the best advice on fire detection and alarm systems in your commercial building, you can’t do better than talk to the team at Scutum London. We look after the fire safety needs of businesses across London and Surrey, as well as the wider South East area, and have the knowledge and experience to carry out professional fire risk assessments and install and maintain effective fire alarms.
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About Scutum London
Scutum London is a leading expert in fire safety and security solutions for businesses and organisations located across South East England, including London and Surrey.
From fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire risk assessments to access control, CCTV and intruder alarm systems – and a lot more besides – we offer a comprehensive range of products and services designed to keep you, your business and your staff and visitors safe.
With decades of industry experience to call on, we’re proud to hold accreditations from leading trade associations and bodies such as British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the British Fire Consortium, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
If you’d like to find out more about Scutum London, get in touch with our friendly team or explore our products and services on our site.