An Introduction into Fire Alarms & other Fire Emergency Equipment

The safety of a building is something that simply mustn’t be overlooked. Ensuring that everyone within the facility is safe at all times should be a top priority for all organisations.

Fire poses a real threat to buildings of all shapes and sizes. Data from the UK government shows that more than 167,000 fires in England were attended to by the fire and rescue services in 2017/18, 74,000 of which were primary fires. This resulted in 334 fire-related fatalities.

It’s therefore absolutely essential that building owners minimise the risk of fire and make sure their buildings are equipped with a range of efficient fire safety tools and equipment.

Although every building is different and the requirements may vary, there are a selection of devices that every building should consider utilising. In this guide we’ve created a simple checklist of typical fire apparatus and emergency equipment to help you get started. However, if you’d like to receive more personal recommendations specific to the layout of your building, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Fire Alarms

Fire alarms are perhaps the most important type of device when it comes to making the building safe for your employees, customers or tenants. Although they don’t actively put out fires, they instantly notify you and other building occupants when smoke is detected, giving you enough time to safely evacuate the premises and contact the emergency services (some alarms are actually programmed to alert the emergency services too so you may not be required to notify them).

A range of different types and models of alarms are available. We recommend having a combination of smoke and heat detectors as well as sounders and visual indication installed on all floors of your building.

Installing fire alarms helps to alert you of a fire at the earliest stage possible and before it develops into something too large to control. The quicker these responses happen, the sooner the process of extinguishing the fire and the less damage your building sustains.

Fire Extinguishers

Handheld firefighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers, are designed to help contain small fires before they spread and become more serious. Extinguishers are available in different types with each one having specific fire classes that they are suitable for use on – no single type is completely effective on all fires.

The 4 main types of fire extinguishers are:

  • Water (for class A fires) – suitable for fires involving flammable solids but shouldn’t be used on fires involving electrical equipment.
  • Powder (for class A, B and C fires) – suitable for most types of fires but shouldn’t be used in enclosed spaces due to the risk of inhalation.
  • Foam (for class A and B fires) – suitable for fires involving flammable solids and liquids but shouldn’t be used on fires involving flammable gases.
  • CO2 (for class B fires) – suitable for fires involving electrical equipment but shouldn’t be used on cooking fires involving oil and grease.

The above is only a brief overview of the capabilities of each type of extinguisher. It’s vital that you fully understand what kinds of fire each extinguisher can and can’t be used on to ensure you get one suitable for your needs. Talk to us today to find out more.

Fire Hose Reels

Fire hose reels are ideal for combatting any class A fire (a fire caused by solid materials such as wood). They provide a controlled supply of water (at least a third of a litre of water a second) and come in standard lengths of 30 metres.

There are two main types: manual hose reels and automatic hose reels. Whereas manual hose reels require you to turn on the water supply before use, automatic hose reels contain a valve which turns the water on as you pull out the hose.

Fire Sprinkler Systems

Installed in the ceiling or in the walls, fire sprinklers automatically discharge water when a fire is detected. It’s worth noting that it is heat they react to, not smoke – when the temperature of the room reaches a certain number, the sprinkler will spray water across the room and suppress the fire.

The sprinklers are triggered one by one, meaning that only the ones that need to go off actually go off. For example, if there’s a fire in just one room, only the sprinklers in that certain room will release water rather than the whole system unnecessarily.

Multiple types of systems are available with each designed for a different situation, so again, it’s important you make sure the system you implement is suited to your requirements.

Emergency & Exit Signage & Lighting

Although they’re not tools that’ll actually help you to fight the fire, emergency lighting and exit signage is key to helping those within the building safely evacuate. Exit signs inform people of safe ways to leave a building and emergency lighting illuminates the exit routes when there’s a main power outage.

It’s also valuable to the emergency services called to the scene as it enables them to safely navigate around the building even though they have no knowledge of its layout.

Fire Blankets

Fire blankets are fire-resistant sheets that can be used to cover a fire and cut its source of oxygen. They’re only suitable to use on small and contained fires though, which is why they are generally found and used in kitchens.

They should be easy to find in an emergency and can also be used to wrap around a person whose clothes have come alight.

Fire Alarm System Installation Bristol

If you’re looking for a trusted and professional team of fire alarm specialists to help protect your property, please get in touch with us here at A.P.E Fire & Security. We’re members of the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and are proudly accredited under the BAFE SP203-1 modular scheme for system design, installation, commission & handover and maintenance, acknowledging our competency to provide specific fire protection systems to buildings of all sizes.

Take a look at our case studies to find out more about we can help >

Contact us today to get started and receive a free, no obligation quote >

See more: A Beginner’s Guide to Emergency Voice Communication Systems

See more: An Electrical Contractor’s Guide to Getting Started with Fire and Security Systems