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Fire alarms provide a vital service that can save lives, so choosing an alarm system and installer can be a big decision. The main types of fire alarm available are conventional, intelligent/addressable, radio and hybrid. Conventional alarm systems are the most common system featuring bells/sirens and detectors, great for small and simple places, very cost effective and highly reliable. Intelligent/Addressable fire alarm systems are more sophisticated and computerised when compared to conventional systems, though more expensive than conventional systems, they are still cost effective even for installations in smaller premises. They are also more flexible and can be programmed to suit the specific requirements of each location. Radio fire alarm systems require no wires and are a more discreet option in terms of fitting. Popular radio fire alarm manufacturers include Detectomat, EMS and Hyfire radio fire alarm systems. Modern radio systems are totally reliable and run on their own frequency so they are not interrupted by other radio devices in the area. Radio systems are particularly useful in older, listed buildings as no intrusive wiring is required. Hybrid fire alarm systems offer the benefits of all systems on a mix and match basis, using the correct fire alarm type for each individual space.
Smoke alarms are often integrated into modern fire alarm systems, as you are more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven't got a smoke alarm. At minimum you should have one smoke alarm on every floor. You can choose from two main types of smoke alarm, ionisation and optical. Ionisation alarms are cheaper and most readily available and are particularly sensitive to flaming fires, detecting this type of fire before smoke becomes very thick. Optical alarms are more expensive and more effective at detecting slow-burning, smouldering fires, they are less likely to go off accidentally but are slightly more expensive. Which ever smoke alarm model you choose, you should ensure that it meets British Standard 5446, Part 1 and carries the British Standard Kitemark.
It's always a good idea to check with your friends, family or neighbours, to see if they can recommend an installer that they have had a good experience with. Failing that, talk to several different companies in your area about the job at hand, then get estimates on price from each of them. To find fire alarm installation firms in your area you can of course browse your Yellow Pages or local classifieds, but much quicker to use the internet to quickly find companies in your area. The best way of all is to simply use the free quote feature on this site by clicking the "post your job" button on this page. Once you have identified local companies, make an appointment to come to your home or business and discuss the job. Ask them for references and find out where they have been working lately, see if you can talk to people who have had work carried out by them recently and find out how satisfied they were with the work. There are established British standards that link to lawful statutes such as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, in terms of design, installation and commissioning of fire alarm systems.
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