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What Type of Fire Alarm Do You Need?

Updated: Jun 13

Fire alarm and smoke detector

Fire alarms are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment in all buildings. However, there are a few different types so it’s important to understand the differences between them to determine which one is most applicable for your circumstances. Hence, this guide outlines the differences between ionisation, photoelectric, and combination alarms, as well as why it’s important to make sure they’re regularly tested.


Ionisation Alarms

Ionisation fire alarms work by positioning a very small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates. The radioactive material encourages a constant current of ionised current between these two plates but when smoke enters the system, this current is interrupted which triggers the alarm. Because of their immediacy, they’re great for detecting particularly fast, flaming flames as they produce a lot of smoke very quickly.


Photoelectric Alarms

It’s important to understand that the smoke produced by a fast flame fire is very different to the smoke produced by a slower smoldering fire. This is where photoelectric alarms come into their own. They use a beam of light which is directed into a chamber away from the light sensor. When smoke enters the system, it causes the light to be reflected toward the light sensor rather than in the chamber, which triggers the alarm.


Combination Alarms

Alternatively, if you need to install alarms into a building where both fast flame and smoldering fires are risks then you’ll want to cover both grounds, but you may wish to avoid installing two fire alarms as this can get costly. If you’re on a budget then combination alarms are the perfect solution in this instance as they use both ionisation and photoelectric technologies but in one system.


However, it’s recommended that if your risk is high enough, to install separate ionized and photoelectric units. It might be more expensive but in particular instances it might prevent a fire or an injury, at which point you’ll be grateful for the decision.


Fire Alarm Testing

Just as important as making sure you install the right types of fire alarms is to also ensure that the alarms you do install are tested regularly. Here at E K Fire Protection, we want to make sure our clients are safe at all times. We can upgrade your existing alarm or provide replacements, install new systems or have your current one tested. Whatever it takes to make sure you’re fire safe, you only need to ask one of our experts!


If you have any further questions about fire alarms or any of our other services like fire safety training or fire signage and lighting then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 01304 210909 today!

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