Smoke alarm

When to Install a Fire Alarm

The need to install a fire alarm is greater than ever. It’s a problem backed up by statistics: 36 percent of all fire-related deaths occur in properties without an alarm. By itself, this number may not be shocking, but when taken in context it presents a serious picture. A laudable 90 percent of British homes have a fire alarm installed, but this means 10 percent of homes suffer three and a half times the number of fire-related deaths. The benefits are obvious—so when is the right time to install a fire alarm, and which type should you choose?


Many homes have a certain type of fire alarm. It is a standard model, mounted on a wall somewhere obvious, powered by a battery. This is an issue for a number of reasons, especially since batteries can go flat or be removed and forgotten about. The best way of beating this is to install an integrated, mains-wired system with detectors spread across the home and linked together. The Fire Service talks about this subject at length:

“Mains-powered alarms have to be installed in all new buildings and after a major refurb. Make sure that the chosen mains powered alarm has a battery back-up. These can be alkaline batteries (need annual changing) or the alarm can be supplied with re-chargeable lithium batteries, which will last the lifetime of the alarm. Mains alarms need to be installed by a qualified electrician. Some people find their alarms are frequently set off when they are cooking or when the toast burns. An alarm installed inside the kitchen must be a heat alarm rather than a smoke alarm. Just outside a kitchen…an optical smoke alarm, or, even better, a combined smoke and heat alarm should be installed, as these are less sensitive to false alarm.”

Getting older

The success of a push to increase the number of fire alarms and improve fire safety has had a positive effect. More people are living longer, a trend reflected across the country for a variety of reasons. However, this presents a new challenge. Older people account for just five percent of the population, but suffer 20 percent of all fire-related deaths.

Older people should always have fire and smoke alarms installed throughout their homes, especially since their escape can be hindered by physical difficulties. They might have issues with walking unaided, and this means any evacuation would be slower. The more warning they’re given, the more likely they will be able to make a safe escape in the event of a fire.

Fortunately, it’s also possible to acquire a vibrating pad, one that activates if the rest of the system sounds. This is to act as a solution to older people’s poorer hearing. Flashing lights can also be incorporated for the same reason.

Fire doors

Regardless of your fire alarm set up, you should consider how to combat smoke. It’s worth noting that most fire-related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than the flames themselves. Smoke fills up a room and people fall unconscious and asphyxiate.