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Types of Fire Alarms

Posted on: June 17, 2011

Having the right types of fire alarms can make all the difference when it comes to your building’s fire protection. The three types of fire alarms are:

  • Thermal fire alarms, which are activated by the heat of a fire
  • Ionization fire alarms, which are activated by smoke and gas from flaming fires
  • Photoelectric fire alarms, which are activated by smoke from smoldering fires

The conditions and fire hazard level in your building will determine the type of fire alarm you need. So, how do you know?

What type of fire alarm do you need in your building?

Thermal fire alarms

Best used in: large commercial or industrial facilities.

Pros: respond to heat, meaning the chance for false alarms are lowered. This makes them ideal for places where dust or smoke is typically present, such as manufacturing facilities.

Cons: arguably the least safe type of fire alarm, they go off only when temperatures reach a certain level, meaning they can only detect a fire once it’s reached a set level of intensity. This makes them less than ideal for standard office buildings.

Ionization fire alarms

Best used in: locations that contain highly combustible materials that burn quickly, including flammable liquids, paint cleaners and things like newspaper ionization fire alarms measure changes in electrical currents caused by invisible particles that

Pros: ionization fire alarms react quickly to fast-spreading fires, warning people so that they have time to escape

Cons: ionization fire alarms can only detect fires that are already blazing and producing a lot of smoke. They are not effective against smoke from slow burning, smoldering fires.

Photoelectric fire alarms

Best used in: rooms with a lot of furniture or other materials that burn more slowly

Pros: photoelectric fire alarms can detect smoldering fires before they erupt into huge blazes

Cons: since they detect large smoke particles, photoelectric fire alarms are not as good at warning your building’s occupants about flaming fires that don’t produce a lot of smoke.

No matter what kinds of conditions exist in your building, there is a fire alarm guaranteed to keep you protected at all times. If you have any questions about what type of fire alarm or smoke detector is best suited for your building’s environment, call Guardian Fire Protection today!

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