What's the Difference Between Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors?

Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors can be part of the same fire safety system.

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A common question which people have when it comes to fire safety and fire protection systems is “what’s the difference between fire alarms and smoke detectors?”.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through both types of equipment, explaining the differences, why fire alarm systems are required for commercial premises and how smoke detectors play their part.

What’s the Difference Between Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors?

What is a Fire Alarm?

Fire alarm systems offer you a complete package of protection. A number of components are used to create a full fire alarm system, including the following in different configurations depending on the risk profile of the building:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Heat detectors
  • Alarm sounders
  • Manual call points

Smoke and heat detectors are automatic means of triggering the fire alarm, alternatively, persons within the building can activate the fire alarm manually, by breaking the call point glass. The alarm sounders then alert anyone in the building to the fire, allowing for safe evacuation and for the authorities to be alerted in a timely fashion.

At TVF (UK) Limited, we provide a full range of fire alarm services as an LPS 1014-certified fire detection and alarm system company. From fire alarm installation to fire alarm servicing, we can help you protect your premises and fulfil your legal obligation (see ‘Why do I need a fire alarm in my commercial building?’ section below).

What is a Smoke Detector?

A smoke detector, on the other hand, does exactly what it says: detection of the presence of smoke. This detection then sets off an alarm system as a single element or component of a fire alarm system.

It’s an important part of a fire alarm system, helping to save lives because smoke is often the first sign of a fire. Smoke detectors will be, at a minimum, mains connected with a back-up battery and often interconnected into the fire alarm system.

For domestic dwellings, a smoke alarm is simply a battery-operated unit that sounds when it detects the presence of smoke. These are self-contained and usually aren’t integrated into a wider system.

Why do I need a Fire Alarm in my Commercial Building?

So why should you have a fire alarm? When it comes to fire alarms for commercial buildings, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states, under the ‘Fire-fighting and fire detection’ section, that:

“in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, the responsible person must ensure that— …the premises are, to the extent that it is appropriate, equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms”

This is a legal obligation, setting out that appropriate measures are required to protect people, thereby involving the use of fire detectors and alarms to alert people in the event of a fire.

The number of units, their placement and the type of system will all be factors dictated by the building itself, something you can get professional advice and assistance for from our team at TVF (UK) Limited.

Are Smoke Detectors a good addition?

When integrated into a wider fire alarm system smoke detectors are useful for commercial premises. This will then allow for automatic detection of a fire which is crucial if certain portions of your premises or building are not staffed at all times.

Essentially, smoke detection means you won’t have to wait for someone to discover a fire and raise the alarm manually, which can help in the swift evacuation of a building. In an addressable system, it also allows for someone to utilise fire safety equipment – where appropriate – before the fire has a chance to spread since the system can pinpoint exactly which detector has been triggered.

If you’re wondering if you need fire alarm installation for your premises, or if you already have a system and want to arrange for servicing and maintenance, look no further. We work to industry standards to ensure the safety of your premises.

Contact our expert team at TVF (UK) Limited for all your fire alarm and fire protection requirements in High Wycombe, Watford and Slough and the surrounding areas.

Need a new fire alarm system for your premises? Call our team on Call 0175 3907 640 for a quote!

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