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The Importance of Fire Alarm Maintenance & Servicing

Fire alarms are incredibly important to both homes and businesses for the protection of commercial and domestic items, as well as lives. However, installing a smoke or fire alarm is not sufficient to make sure you and your team or family will be made aware of a potential fire. Like all technological safety systems, there may be a slight chance of fault or failure - this is why fire alarm maintenance is crucial.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the importance of fire alarm maintenance while helping you to understand fire alarm servicing requirements, and providing a little bit of background information on fire alarm systems in general.

How do smoke alarms and fire alarms work?

The purpose of a fire alarm is to detect a fire before it is noticed by a human being. Fire alarms are generally activated by the initial warning sign, which is smoke. While plumes of smoke are easily noticeable once a fire has become established, the initial early smoking at the beginning of a fire often goes unnoticed by the human eyes and nose – particularly at nighttime, when people are asleep or businesses are closed.

Once a fire alarm detects the presence of smoke, it will sound the alarm straight away. The alarm is designed to attract the attention of every person in the building with enough time to allow them to evacuate before the fire spreads any further.

In terms of the science behind smoke alarms, ionisation-style alarms are the most popular. With an ionisation smoke alarm, a small amount of radioactive material sits between two plates, both of which are electrically charged. This electrical charge causes the air to ionise, with current flowing between the two plates. When smoke enters this chamber, it causes the flow of ions to be disrupted. This reduction of current then activates the alarm.

How frequently should your smoke alarms be serviced?

For your home smoke alarm, it is recommended that you test monthly. It doesn’t take much time to test alarms in the home, and doing so could result in the difference between life and serious injury or even death, should you ever encounter a house fire.

To test your smoke alarm, simply press your finger down on the alarm button (usually located on the front middle of the unit). If this fails to trigger the smoke alarm, it may be time to replace the battery. You should aim to replace the battery in your home smoke alarms once every year. While some batteries may last longer, most smoke alarm batteries tend to lose their charge and may only be working sub-optimally after a few months.

It is incredibly beneficial to develop a habit of checking your fire alarm with regularity. As such, routine maintenance of your smoke alarms should be part of your standard homecare routine. In addition to replacing batteries every year, we also recommend replacing each fire alarm once every decade.

Avoiding the danger associated with not maintaining a smoke alarm

A damaged or non-functioning smoke alarm is a danger to any home or business. You might not have previously given it too much attention, but the danger posed by a blaze could result in loss of life, loss of your home, or loss of your livelihood. Without the advance alert provided by a smoke alarm, the resulting damage of any fire – no matter how minor – could be incredibly serious.

It’s a sad fact that the main cause of loss of life in most house fires comes not from heat or flames, but from the inhalation of smoke. Thick, acrid smoke results in a depletion of oxygen, and oxygen deprivation leads instantly to confusion, nausea, disorientation and fainting. Once a person passes out from smoke inhalation, they will be incapacitated and therefore unable to escape the fire. This is an incredibly frightening prospect for anyone, which is why it makes sense to ensure that you have a functional smoke alarm to protect you and the other inhabitants of your property.

Fire alarm servicing requirements

Commercial fire alarm systems should be serviced at least once during every six-month period. This is recommended in document BS-5839. For additional peace of mind, you might choose to have your commercial alarm system serviced on a more regular basis.

For further information on fire alarm servicing requirements, please do not hesitate to contact Britannia Fire & Security today. A member of our friendly and experienced team will be more than happy to offer the help and advice you require.

Fire Alarm Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my fire alarm is expired?

Take a moment to inspect the date of manufacture on your smoke alarms. Take down each alarm and locate the stamp printed on its back. If it was manufactured more than 10 years ago, you should replace these devices right away for peak performance – they need replacing once a decade.

How often should I test my fire alarm?

It is important to test your smoke alarms or fire alarm system at least once a month. This will ensure that they are working properly and the batteries are functioning correctly. Additionally, if you make any changes to your home such as painting, installing new furniture or adding carpeting, it is important to test the fire alarms again afterwards in order to be sure that no dust has interfered with their operation.

Can dead batteries cause a false alarm from my fire alarm system?

Yes, it is possible for low batteries to result in false alarms. This is because when the battery power becomes too low, it can cause an intermittent signal that may be interpreted as a real fire by the alarm system. Additionally, if you have old batteries that are starting to corrode, they could also result in false alarms. It is important to replace your batteries at least twice a year and clean any corrosion from the terminals with vinegar or baking soda if needed.