Fire risks are a fundamental concern for housing providers, social landlords and agents who have a duty of care in providing fire safety for their tenants, surrounding areas and buildings. With consideration of this, it is important that those procuring or managing fire alarm systems are aware of updates in regulation and the best products available. Technology is continually advancing in the fire safety industry; it is becoming more cost-efficient, and of a higher quality, so it is possible that your regular go-to products may no longer be the best option for protecting your tenants.
If you’re interested in safeguarding your tenants with alarm technology that is both energy efficient and cost effective, keep reading to discover our top five areas to consider.
Unfortunately, in 2014/15 alone there were 263 fire-related fatalities and 7,569 casualties, and up to 30% of the dwelling fires did not have a smoke alarm installed. Fire alarms are vital in providing a warning to tenants to escape but also enabling a quicker reaction to it.
However, standalone alarms have their limitations in the surrounding area they can detect, and the distance their sound can travel. Contrastingly, by installing a radio-frequency interconnected network, this allows for quick detection of the problem (whether this be smoke, heat or carbon monoxide) and sounding throughout the home. The alarm pattern can also represent the type of problem, allowing the tenant to respond appropriately e.g. by opening the windows in CO alarm and evacuating in a fire alarm.
Before buying an alarm, it is also important to consider the long-term housing costs. For instance, all SONA by FireAngel smoke and heat alarms have extremely low energy usage and running costs; on average this is less than 10% of other AC alarms. Over a ten year period, one SONA by FireAngel alarm will cost an average £14.13 less than competitors with high running costs. Extrapolate this to 10, 000 alarms, and SONA by FireAngel will cost £7,400, whereas a known competitor will cost £148,700* – a saving of £141,300! Therefore, over its life, this product can represent a significant saving across housing stock.
This lowered energy expenditure will also lower your carbon footprint – the measure of greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities – and so help reduce the environmental impact of your organisation.
Depending on the alarm and complexity of fitting, there can be a cost implication in terms of the installation process. Choosing a simple, easy-install base with multi fix screw points will help decrease the housing cost per capita, meaning a quick and more cost efficient use of your team or external electricians time. Furthermore, by interconnecting alarms wirelessly via RF technology rather than hardwiring, this will greatly reduce destruction in a home, alongside reducing installation time.
Usually registered providers will coincide the testing of CO and fire alarms with electrical testing and/or the annual gas maintenance check. Mechanical and electrical contractors are therefore likely to be testing a lot of alarms in a short period of time – a very time consuming process if each alarm has to be tested individually. However, by installing an interlinking system with an alarm control unit, all the alarms can be tested from one centralised location. This can also be done regularly by tenants, even if they have a disability or are otherwise unable to physically reach the alarm.
As outlined in BS 5839-6. Pt. 6, there are different grades of fire alarm systems. These range from grade F to grade A, where an increasing grade suggests a greater risk of fire in the premises, and so requires a more demanding application.
The majority of single occupancy dwellings in the UK are within the D-F category and, in accordance with the recommendations outlined in BS 5739- 6: 2004, all new dwellings should be provided with at least a grade D system. Thermoptek Multi-Sensor technology (grade D) is also used by over 90% of the UK’s Fire and Rescue Service.
By investing in high quality grade D alarms such as FireAngel’s main’s powered range – SONA, housing providers are also getting the reliability of a tamper proof sealed for life lithium battery with an “always-on guarantee”. Therefore providing an enhanced level of safety for tenants. Furthermore, by having features such as the ‘Sleep Easy’ function – the low battery ‘chirp’ can be silenced for 8 hours so tenants will not be disturbed by a constantly chirping alarm at times when it is inconvenient to contact their social housing provider to discuss replacing the alarm e.g. at night. This is also a benefit for contractors as it reduced the number of callouts at inconvenient times, and allows a more flexible timeframe for replacement.
Furthermore, by choosing one multi-sensor alarm such as SONA by FireAngel, landlords don’t need to decide between ionisation and optical alarms. This will not only reduce stock size, but will also help reduce the likelihood of false alarms, and therefore reduce the necessity for call outs.
Building on FireAngel’s Wi-Safe 2 technology, new developments in the “Connected Home” technology is set to revolutionise fire safety, especially concerning those most at risk. The Wi-Safe Connect is a cloud-based management system, which allows the external monitoring of alarms. Upon the activation of an alarm, the appropriate personnel can be notified e.g. the tenant, landlord, family member or the Fire and Rescue Services. This will likely save time, money, and increase safety as low battery or repeated alarm activation will be properly acknowledged.
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If you need any further help in deciphering what you actually need, our specification generator is completely free to use, or you can get in touch with the team if you need advice tailored to your requirements.
*Based on a typical electricity unit cost of £0.172