Safety Devices 


Every Home Needs a Working Smoke Alarm

If there is a fire in your home, a smoke alarm will immediately warn you, giving you and everyone in your home time to escape safely.  Smoke alarms are cheap, available in most high street stores, and are easy to fit and maintain. 

Our research identifies the following three groups to be at most at risk from fire:

Less affluent social renters with high fire risk, High risk, elderly singles reliant on state support and Transient, young singles with high risk and few interventions.

Choosing your smoke alarm

There are a variety of smoke alarms to choose from. There are three main types of smoke alarms which are described below. Whichever model you choose, the most important thing is to make sure it meets British Standard (BS) 14604:2005.

The three main types of smoke alarm are ionisation, optical and Thermoptek alarms.

  • Ionisation alarms are the cheapest and the most readily available. They are very sensitive to flaming fires, (ones that burn fiercely such as chip-pan fires) and they will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick.
  • Optical alarms are more expensive and more effective at detecting slow-burning fires (such as smouldering foam-filled furniture and overheated wiring). Optical alarms are less likely to go off accidentally, and so are best for ground-floor hallways and for homes on one level.
  • Thermopteck alarms technology combines the very latest in optical sensing with thermal enhancement, providing faster response to both fire types eliminating the need for ionisation sources which can be harmful to the environment.  Thermoptek alarms are less prone to false alarms than Ionisation alarms. 

As both slow-burning and flaming fires are common, for the best protection you should either install alarms with Thermoptek technology or a combination of Ionisation and Optical alarms.  In a typical home you would install the Optical alarm in the hall way and the Ionisation alarm on the landing.

Where to put your smoke alarm

You should have at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your property. If you have only one alarm make sure it is somewhere you’ll be able to hear it when you’re asleep. Also consider fitting them in rooms which have electrical appliances – e.g. a heater or charger – or other fire risks.

It usually takes a few minutes to install your smoke alarm yourself – just follow the manufacturer’s instructions that come with it.

Maintaining your smoke alarm

  • Test all your smoke alarms once a week by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds
  • Change the battery once a year (unless it is a 10-year sealed unit alarm)
  • Replace the whole unit every 10 years
  • Never remove the batteries apart from when replacing them.
  • If it starts bleeping contact the manufacturer, not the Fire Service

Alarms for the Hearing Impaired

If you, or someone you know, has difficulty hearing, there are special smoke alarms to warn you if there's a fire and give you time to get out safely. They use flashing lights as well as an audible alarm and include a vibrating pad to alert you if you are in bed asleep.

Sprinkler Systems

Domestic Sprinklers can provide a package of fire protection for homes which not only protects lives but has the added advantage of reducing the degree of damage to the property and the contents both from the effects of the fire and possibly from the water that may come from fire hoses needed to extinguish a fire.

Smoke alarms are strongly advocated, but their actual potential against fire can be of limited value to people who are very young and people who have limited mobility. Current statistics have indicated it is these groups that are given limited protection by smoke alarms and who are those most at risk from fire in their home. Residential sprinkler systems could close this gap in life protection and, coupled with working smoke alarms, offer a comprehensive life protection package.

Some Facts about Sprinklers

  • No one in the UK has ever died as a result of a fire in a building with a working sprinkler system
  • Only the sprinkler heads in the vicinity of the fire actually operate
  • Sprinkler heads can be completely resealed
  • Sprinkler systems do not normally actuate during a false alarm, they will only normally operate in the event of an actual fire
  • Sprinklers save lives and property
  • Sprinklers are not difficult, unsightly or expensive to install in homes

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