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Does a Fire Alarm Need to be Monitored?

Numerous residential and commercial properties across the country have fire alarms installed to ensure optimal fire safety. After all, fires are a serious hazard causing substantial losses every year.

According to statistics, the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) attended 182,825 fire-related incidents in the previous year and encountered 253 related fatalities caused by smoke inhalation and burns.

A monitored fire alarm is a fail-proof system that reacts faster than the human brain does in the event of a fire. During a fire, timing is everything.

A fire alarm is capable of alerting everyone in the building to evacuate immediately. More importantly, it also calls the fire department to deal with the blaze when it hasn’t spread. 

Even if (rarely) the call doesn’t go out, as part of a fire safety measure in commercial settings, selected employees are trained as safety officers to help with the evacuation process and call the authorities ASAP.

But what about when the property is unoccupied and there’s no one to hear and respond to the alarm?

That’s when fire alarm monitoring services come in handy. When a fire alarm is monitored, it sends the alarm to a professional monitoring station that promptly takes the necessary action by informing the owners and the fire department.

You don’t have to worry about walking into a burned down office the next morning or come back from vacation only to see that your house is no more. These are dreadful thoughts and we wish no one ever has to face such dilemmas in the lives, ever.

So, does a fire alarm need to be monitored? The answer is yes! A fire alarm is only useful when there’s someone around to respond to it.

Over 60% of commercial fires occur when buildings are unoccupied, between 6 pm and 9 am. With fire alarm monitoring, the alarm won’t ever go unheard or unnoticed because dedicated experts will be monitoring the property 24/7.

WHAT IS FIRE ALARM MONITORING AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Fire alarm monitoring provides 24-hour protection against fires by a professional monitoring centre notifying the emergency services or named key holders in the event of an alarm trigger. 

You don’t have to worry about leaving your property unattended or empty, even for longer periods, since you know that professionals are watching over and taking care of potential threats in your absence and at times when you’re not able to.

Fire alarm monitoring works by the alarm being triggered in the event of a fire, notifying the professional monitoring centre via landline or 3G/4G networks. 

On receiving the signal, the monitoring centre notifies the owners of the property, nominated key holders, and the fire department. 

The fire brigade then arrives at the scene of the incident and extinguishes the fire, leading to minimal damage to life and property.

At Calder Security, we use 3 main methods of monitoring depending on the level of security you require:

  • Digital monitoring using a standard telephone line, 
  • DualCom GPRS operating via a phone line and GPRS, and 
  • BT Redcare GSM operating via a phone line and GSM.

The type of monitoring solution you choose is determined by the level of security you require.

BT Redcare is the most secure alarm monitoring system and is the largest supplier of intelligent alarm signalling services in the UK. It is a widely used service, securing many residential and commercial properties throughout the country.

It is one of the most secure grade-4 alarm signalling service as it communicates with the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) using two secure signalling paths. This ensures that signals sent from the security systems are never compromised since the system provides dual protection against risks of failed alarm signals. 

REASONS WHY A FIRE ALARM NEEDS TO BE MONITORED

As mentioned above, fire alarm monitoring services are crucial in keeping your properties safe, especially in times when they are unoccupied. Here are some of the most important reasons why a fire alarm needs to be monitored:

  • Constant protection

Isn’t that what we all want? To be safe and protected at all times. With fire alarm monitoring, dedicated experts are working round-the-clock to keep you and your property safe.

If a commercial fire starts in the middle of the day, there are plenty of people around to hear the alarm and take action. But if the fire breaks out at night, when the place is empty with no one nearby to respond to it, the alarms are of basically no use unless they are monitored and connected to the fire department. 

  • Guaranteed quick response

Fires are vicious and every second counts. Professional monitoring services are trained to act fast without wasting a single second. 

As soon as the system detects the first signs of a fire, the monitoring station is at its feet to ensure your safety and security.

At times, even when fires break out in the presence of people, it causes so much chaos and panic that most of the time they even forget to call the authorities and just try to flee.

In other residential fire scenarios, where the elderly and children are involved; they cannot be trusted with taking the right decision at the right time. 

An elderly person might not make it to the phone in time to call the fire department, and a child might, very naturally, get scared and try to run out of the premises.

With professional fire alarm monitoring, you never need to rely on someone to call the authorities.

  • Cost minimisation

Fire alarm monitoring services indeed help in cost minimization. When you consider the benefits that it provides you, you’ll realize that an effective fire alarm system can lower your costs.

For both homes and businesses, you must look at it as an investment and how important it is to keep them protected. In the event of a fire, fire alarm monitoring can speed up response time and protect your valuable assets from fire.

Compare the costs of fire alarm monitoring services with the potential losses you might face in the event of a fire and you’ll get your answer.

Additionally, with proof of a well-maintained fire alarm security system, you may qualify for lower insurance premiums and protect yourself from fines during inspections for not having a proper system in place.

  • Troubleshooting

A fire alarm needs to be maintained and checked regularly to ensure that it is working as it should. 

The main aspect of fire alarm monitoring is the transmission of signals to the monitoring centre. If they are compromised, the entire system gets compromised.

Monitored fire alarms can troubleshoot and test themselves to ensure that the system is working correctly.

In the event of a faulty system, the central monitoring station will receive a signal and contact the owners of the property ensuring proper functionality of the system at all times.

IS FIRE ALARM MONITORING WORTH THE COST?

The cost of having your fire alarm monitored is insignificant compared to the potential losses an unmonitored system could bring upon you. 

Losing your home or business is far costlier than installing a fire alarm system and having it monitored by professional services. The benefits that you reap through the service greatly justify the cost. 

So, how much does fire alarm monitoring cost?

Monthly charges for fire alarm monitoring services fall anywhere between £15-£45, which is nothing compared to the damages fire can cause to your possessions. 

Other costs involved include professional installation, maintenance, and repair services.

The proper installation of a fire alarm system is just as crucial as the quality of the system itself. As a rough estimate, you can expect to pay £1000+ for a fire alarm system for a small business. Once the fire alarm has been installed on your premises, you must consider other areas of fire protection for your small business such as fire suppressors, sprinklers, and training staff members on how to deal with fires at work.

On average, a maintenance visit would cost you around £125-£200+ and fire alarm repairing services would cost you around £92. The total charges may vary depending on the nature of the fault.

FIRE ALARMS AND THE LAW

All properties are not required by the law to have a fire alarm system. According to the current UK fire alarm regulations, you are likely to need a fire alarm system if:

  • Your property is large, multi-storeyed, or close-plan,
  • You store highly flammable substances such as chemicals,
  • There are high-risk activities involved such as cooking,
  • There are vulnerable occupants such as the disabled, elderly, or children,
  • A fire would not be easy to spot from anywhere in the premises, and
  • A shout of “fire!” wouldn’t be easily heard by all occupants.

If any one of these is true, you are most definitely required by the law to have a fire alarm system in place. A fire risk assessment must be carried out to know if you must have automatic fire detection. 

All fire alarm systems must be installed per the British Standard, BS 5839 which also stipulates that they should be maintained at regular intervals.

WHICH TYPE OF FIRE ALARM DO YOU NEED?

All fire alarm systems operate on the same principle. A sensor inside the alarm detects smoke or heat, and the alarm is activated to warn others in the building. They may or may not incorporate fire alarm monitoring equipment which would alert the monitoring centres and the fire department to take the necessary action.

The law doesn’t specify exactly which type of fire alarm system should be used for different types of premises. It all comes down to what works for and is appropriate, as per the requirement.

There are three main types of fire alarms; conventional, addressable, and wireless fire alarms.

  • Conventional fire alarms

These are the conventional systems that people think of when they imagine a fire alarm.

The property is divided into broad zones that give a rough idea as to where the fire has occurred. In the event of an alarm trigger, the system identifies the zone where the fire is, but doesn’t specify the exact area.

It is mostly suitable for lower-risk premises such as small houses and businesses that operate in a small area. 

  • Addressable fire alarms

The addressable fire alarm system is an intelligent system that has an address for each device that can pinpoint the exact location of the threat. When one of the system’s components is initiated, the address is shown on the fire alarm panel. 

For this reason, it is more suited for businesses that operate in a larger area, or if they are at a higher risk of fires such as factories, restaurants, and businesses dealing with chemicals such as the beauty salon or paint shop. 

  • Wireless fire alarm
    This is a variant of the addressable fire alarm, working in the same manner, just without the wires. Instead, wireless fire alarms use a secure wireless link between the sensors and the control panel. 

These are suitable for places where a lot of wiring isn’t appropriate, such as tourist attractions.

To ensure that you get the right fire alarm system for your property that meets the UK fire alarm regulations, it is recommended that you contact a reputable and reliable company for your needs.

Calder Security is Yorkshire’s leading independent security company waiting to make your home and business safe and secure. Contact us right away for a quick consultation!

OTHER SAFETY MEASURES TO TAKE

In addition to having a monitored fire alarm, there are other safety measures that you can take to ensure that fire risks are minimized and you know what to do in the event of one.

The first and foremost step after installing a monitored fire alarm system is educating and training the occupants on what steps to take if a fire breaks out. They need to understand that panic won’t help them. Staying calm and being well-versed with the emergency plan can help save lives.

Fire suppressing systems such as sprinkles are a great, inexpensive way to combat threats such as a fire. A properly installed sprinkler system can be very effective in stopping the spread of fire. The damage can be minimized if these sprinklers are activated as soon as a fire alarm is triggered.

Regular fire/emergency drills must be carried out by every business to ensure their employees know the plan of action in case of a fire. As mentioned above, everyone should be familiar with the safety protocol and adhere to the rules and guidelines laid out in a fire plan.

Another mandatory requirement for every property such as a multi-storeyed building is to have fire exits to be used in emergencies. It is recommended that there should be more than one fire exit on the premises and that they must be independent of each other and have different escape routes so there’s always more than one way to evacuate the building in an emergency.

All wiring in the property must be regularly maintained, checking for broken or frayed connections, all appliances must be prevented from heating up, and burning stoves must never be left unattended in both residential and commercial kitchens. 

WHY CHOOSE CALDER SECURITY?

According to the UK fire alarm regulations, someone competent and reliable must be chosen to install a fire alarm at your premises. They require that the security company must understand the various types of fire alarm systems and be familiar with all the different models. They must be able to identify which grade and category of the fire alarm system are required and have good knowledge of the British Standard BS 5839. 

We, at Calder Security, check out all the requirements laid out by the government and provide a comprehensive fire alarm system that includes professional installation, monitoring, maintenance, and repair services. We offer a complete solution for all your fire safety needs.

  • We can design, supply, install, maintain, repair, and monitor fire alarm systems for a complete service.
  • We have SSAIB approved installers.
  • We are security specialists working in the industry since 1976.
  • All our installed systems comply with business insurance terms.
  • We follow the British Standard BS 5839 for all our fire alarms.
  • We only partner with trusted monitoring stations.
  • We use DualCom and BT Redcare monitoring, the most secure signalling service in all of the UK.
  • We can offer fast repairs should monitoring detect any faults with the system.
  • We have a 24-hour call-out service for customers.
  • We have extensive knowledge of all systems and can work on systems not installed or maintained by us.
  • We will remind you when fire alarm services are due so that it’s one less thing to worry about.

Contact us now for a quick quote!

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