Smoke detectors are a well-established legal requirement for commercial buildings.
It’s a piece of technology that provides occupants with peace of mind, knowing they will be alerted about a potential fire breaking out.
However, an important question to consider is: ‘Are Smoke Detectors Fire Control Measures?’ While smoke detectors do a great job of alerting, there are plenty of other protective measures that you can use in conjunction with the smoke detectors to ensure protection and safety.
Many smoke detectors also provide carbon monoxide detection and it is no question why they are a requirement for properties in the UK. A commercial building will require numerous smoke detectors. Ideally, a building will need one on every floor, every office and in the hallways.
While all signs point to the perfect protection measure, some detectors may not be as helpful for people who won’t be able to evacuate quickly, like those with disabilities, children or the elderly – regardless of the early smoke alert. They might make you aware of a fire, but they can not stop it from spreading or take control of the smoke that they sense.
Types of smoke alarms
Ionisation: Ionisation smoke detectors are the cheapest to purchase and are incredibly sensitive to small particles of smoke caused by fast flaming fires involving materials such as wood or paper. They will detect a fast-flaming fire before the smoke gets too thick. Ionisation detectors are not ideal for a kitchen since they can be overly sensitive. However, they are less reactive to slow-burning fires that give off large amounts of smoke before flames occur.
Optical: Optical smoke detectors are a more expensive option but are most effective at detecting larger smoke particles caused by slow-burning fires. While you shouldn’t place them in kitchens, you can put optical smoke detectors closer to kitchens than sensitive ionisation detectors.
Heat Alarms: Heat alarms can detect an increase in temperature caused by fire and are insensitive to smoke, meaning you can install them in kitchens. In a larger kitchen space, you may require many heat alarms due to their abilities.
Combined Alarms: A combined alarm contains optical and heat sensors, enabling them to detect smoke and heat. Combined alarms respond to all types of fire within a fast timeframe. This type of alarm works well in living rooms, bedrooms, landings and hallways.
Smoke and fire protection – other options to consider
As we mentioned previously, pairing a smoke detector with other forms of protection will help ensure a building and its occupants are kept as safe as possible. Smoke detectors are a fantastic tool to detect fire, but they can not stop one from spreading.
Fire extinguishers are one of the most proactive tools when it comes to fire safety. Since they are so simple to use, anyone can operate them to stop a fire before it gets out of control. Fire extinguishers are portable and provide immediate use, making them an essential tool in an emergency.
A fire sprinkler system can extinguish a fire entirely. Sprinkler systems also act in the surrounding areas and prevent fire from spreading further – allowing occupants to evacuate through any part of the building without coming face to face with fire. The damage caused by a sprinkler system is small in comparison to fire and smoke damages.
With the International Building Code deciding that fire-rated doors are now a requirement for commercial buildings, these doors make for an essential source of protection. Fire-rated doors block stairwells and elevator shafts from fire spreading further and can be paired with smoke curtains to protect the area further.
Smoke and Fire Curtains
Smoke and fire curtains are some of the most critical fire protection tools to utilise. They make perfect additions for most large spaces such as atriums, schools, residential buildings, hotels and even airports. As an automatic source of protection, smoke and fire curtains work to prevent smoke and fire from spreading to other areas, creating a safe evacuation for occupants without affecting the aesthetics of the building.
At Coopers Fire, we’re proud that every Coopers fire curtain and smoke curtain, and their key components, are manufactured within the Cooper Group to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 at our manufacturing plants in the United Kingdom.
Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help make your commercial building safe.