What Fire Alarms do I need in the UK?

First things first – Why do you need fire alarms in the first place?

Fire alarms, heat detectors, smoke detectors, LD3, LD2, D1 detectors, what about Carbon Monoxide? Good lord. That’s an awful lot of technical jargon.

The silent watchers. They’re your eyes and ears. Noisy buggers at times, and an be very irritating, granted. But they have your back. And that’s the most important thing.

I want to share a quick story before we get much further. One morning approximately 4am we woke up to a beeping. This beeping wasn’t loud enough to fully make us jump out of our skin, but it was loud enough to make us investigate. It was the CO alarm in the boiler cupboard. At the time our first born was only 6 months old. Very quickly we rushed out and, holding my breath, I was started opening windows room by room to let any gasses escape.

It wasn’t the greatest wake up call, but there and then I fully decided I’d rather have a rude awakening at an ungodly hour and be alive, rather than not be able to tell the story. It’s as simple as that, I’d rather be uncomfortable for a few hours in the morning and have my sleep disturbed, and have the opportunity to moan about it that day, than be another statistic, buried 6 feet down.

optical smoke alarm

It turned out that on this occasion I was charging my car battery overnight, and coincidentally, the CO alarm is easily confused between Carbon Monoxide (CO), and the gasses that car batteries release once they’re charged. It was a complete drill but it was a worthy drill nonetheless.

Rounding the story up, that’s exactly why you need fire alarms in the first place. They keep you alive. They alert you before you even realise something might be wrong. You might be preoccupied whilst dinner is on. You might be sleeping. You might have quickly popped in the garden. But the time that an early warning can afford you might be the difference between having a house and not having a house. It might be the difference between getting to breathe another day and being thankful you put a fresh battery in your alarm when it was being a nuisance and beeping at you.

Ok, You’ve sold me. So what alarms do I need?

The million dollar question. and the answer is (drum roll please)… It all depends. And strictly speaking, it all comes down to what your Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) dictates. For most standard properties, a very standard detector setup will be based off:

Optical detector in escape routes which include hallway and landing

Additional optical in the main living area (Read: Living room).

Heat Detector in the kitchen

CO detector where the boiler is located (if this is in the kitchen you might be able to combine the heat and CO action into one single alarm).

That’s a very hard and fast setup which most domestic properties will follow as a base standard. You also want to think about how these detectors interact with eachother and how they’re powered…

In which case, what we really want to go for are Mains powered, battery-backed, interlinked detectors. AKA D1 detectors.

This means they’re constantly topped up, but if the power goes off they can still work, and by being interlinked they talk to each other, so if one detectors goes off, they all want to go off. We recommend getting detectors with Lithium batteries built in. Why? Because if you opt for replaceable batteries, the onus is on you to change the batteries every year or so. The built in Lithium batteries tend to be rated for 10 years.

What Make and model fire alarms should I choose?

My personal and professional recommendation: Use the Aico 3000 series. And get them fitted by a professional who can conduct the FRA, install them properly, and issue you a fire certificate

I’m a landlord, what fire system do you recommend for me?

The exact same sort of setup. To be fully compliant you want to have a fire risk assessment (FRA) conducted first to indicate the high risk pain points your property is experiencing. But largely, the above advice is based on an LD2 system based on D1 detectors

If you are operating HMOs based on your typical old school 3-4 storey town-house, you might well be moving into grade A territory where you require a fire panel near the front door. The fire risk assessment will dictate exactly what sort of system your property requires. If you’re moving toward a panel based system, we recommend C-tec panels and Apollo detectors.

I require a fire alarm professional in Medway & Maidstone

You’ve come to the right place. Get in touch with us to get the ball rolling. Even if you’re just in need of advice, we’re always here to help.

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