When and why to replace your smoke and fire alarms

Whether at home or in the office, smoke and fire detection systems are a legal requirement for a reason – they save lives. However, without incident, it can be easy to forget that these systems are even in place. This could be a fatal mistake if you’re not vigilant.

It’s important that you closely monitor your smoke and fire alarm systems so you know not only when to replace batteries, but when to replace the systems themselves.

Signs to watch out for

The Sound – As a standard fire alarm battery reaches the end of its natural life it should start to make a high-pitched sound to let you know it’s time to change the batteries. Just because this function is working, however, doesn’t necessarily mean your alarm is working 100%.

The Date – Although it might be more convenient to sit around waiting for an aural reminder, if you are in any doubt whatsoever that your smoke or fire alarm might need replacement, you can manually check the manufacturing date of your device. Simply remove it from the ceiling and check the back of the device for the date. If it’s more than 10 years old, then it need replacing.

The Batteries – One of the most common mistakes many home and business owners make is to simply forget to replace the batteries in their alarms. Fire alarm batteries should be tested at least once a month by using the test function. If the alarm doesn’t ring when the test is engaged, the batteries need to be replaced.

Where to Install Alarms

Smoke and fire alarms should be installed in locations where they are most likely to be heard. In a family home, it is common to install them on the landing and in hallways where the sound is likely to spread throughout the property. To be certain that you’ll hear it if the worst happens, it’s recommended to install one in every bedroom or at least on every level of the property.

For a business or a larger property, connected fire alarms are always recommended. These will include a central control panel, ‘in case of emergency’ breakout boxes and a number of sensors to be placed throughout the building. These packages will often also include fire extinguishers, which are a legal requirement in commercial properties.

Safety Tips

  • Be sure that everyone in your home or office knows how to respond if they hear the alarm. For larger organisations, this might mean creating a specific plan of action/evacuation and hosting fire safety meetings with leaders and managers to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Alarms should always be installed either on ceilings, or on a high wall, as smoke and flames rise quickly.
  • Never install alarms near doors, windows or any ventilation that could interfere with their operation. You should also keep them well away from the kitchen or from the fireplace for obvious reasons.
  • Finally, alarms should be cleaned often as a build-up of dust and debris can cause problems. This can be done simply with a vacuum cleaner and brush.
  • Make sure all mains-powered fire alarms are installed by qualified NSI fire alarm installer such as Lee Security Ltd.