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An Introduction to Choosing the Right Commercial Fire Alarm System

Updated: Dec 4, 2018



All it takes is one small spark to ignite the flame that destroys your business and possibly many lives. That’s why fire alarm systems are not only required by law throughout the United States, they are also one of the most important systems in your business. However, equipping your facility with the right commercial fire alarm system isn’t always easy or straightforward. By nature, no two systems are the same because every business is unique in its needs, configuration, and operating budget.


If you are choosing a fire alarm system for your business or need to upgrade your current system, here are a few important tips to guide you.


Understand the Property/Facility Demands

Every facility will have unique demands and your system should address those demands. First, determine key issues such as:

  • Are you protecting people, property, or both?

  • Do you have mission-critical areas?

  • What is the building design structure?

  • Will your system support one building or many?

  • Are there areas using fire, heat, or combustibles in the daily operation of the business?

  • How much of the building is occupied?

  • How often is the building occupied?


Choosing the Right Type of Fire Alarm

There are three basic types of alarms, each with their own advantages and drawbacks:


Manual Systems

Manual systems are triggered when someone manually activates a fire alarm pull box and the alarm sounds immediately. These are affordable and very helpful in occupied buildings. However, when the building is empty, there is no one to sound the alarm.


Automatic Systems

Automatic systems are triggered automatically when sensors detect smoke, heat, or the activation of a fire sprinkler system and are effective even when no one is in the building.


Hybrid Systems

As the name suggests, a hybrid system combines the features of both manual and automatic systems. In the event of a fire, a person can manually activate the alarm right away. However, the automatic system also works well when the building is partially or completely unoccupied.


Investigate the Many System Options

To make your system even more fit and functional, it is important to choose the right combination of options. Here are just a few of the popular fire system options.

  • Aspiration Detection—Aspiration detection systems detect the existence of potentially dangerous airborne particles and can detect the difference between smoke and dust.

  • Voice Evacuation Units—Emergency Voice Alarm Communication Systems deliver a pre-recorded or manual voice message during a fire.

  • Carbon Monoxide Detection—Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can become lethal before it is naturally detected. The latest fire alarm solutions now include carbon monoxide detectors that can alert building occupants regarding unsafe CO levels before they become lethal.

  • Phone Apps—Many commercial fire alarm systems offer downloadable apps that deliver instant alerts when trouble arises.

Partner with Professionals

The design of your fire and life safety system is an important and multi-faceted project. It requires learning your business-specific needs, knowledge of all applicable Codes, an understanding of fire and the technology available for its detection and suppression. The surest way to get the system most fitting to your needs and budget is by working with a trusted professional.


Have questions? No problem! Give Sentry Alarm a call!

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