When installing a fire alarm, there are many factors to consider. Broadly speaking, this includes considering the UK fire safety standards and regulations, but it also involves thinking of the design of the building, the risk of fire, and the needs of the tenant.
Additionally, deciding where to position the alarm depends on the function of the alarm - whether it has smoke, heat or carbon monoxide (CO) sensitivity- and where a safe supply of electricity can be sourced (unless battery powered). Otherwise, the actual installation of fire alarms, including interlinking via radio frequency and testing, should be a quick and simple process.
Use this 5 step alarm installation guide to ensure your SONA by FireAngel by FireAngel alarm is being fitted appropriately.
1. Consider the system grades and categories
If you are wondering, or need confirmation on how to install a fire alarm system, then the British Standards 5839: Pt.6 (otherwise known as BS 5836-6: 2013) is the fundamental code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises.
Grades of system
In accordance with this standard, there are six grades of system to consider when specifying a fire detection and fire alarm system. These range from Grade A to F, where the higher grade typically represents a greater fire risk, so a higher level of fire safety system needs to be installed. The nature of the premises and the characteristics of the tenants also need to be considered.
However, the majority of standard UK housing falls within the D to F categories, and the mains powered SONA by FireAngel alarms (with sealed for life battery backup) are suitable for Grade D systems. It is important to determine the correct system grade and category for the dwelling prior to alarm installation.
Categories of system
BS 5839-6: 2013 also defines the three Levels of Detection (LD). Similarly to grades, the higher the category, the greater the risk of fire, and so the more advanced the system should be. The categories are as follows:
- LD1 = Maximum Protection. Alarms are in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes and all areas where a fire might start, but not bathrooms, shower rooms or toilets. This category gives occupants the best level of protection.
- LD2 = Medium Protection. Fire alarms are in all circulation spaces and escape routes (e.g. hallways and landings) are covered together with a provision of higher fire risk areas, such as the kitchen and living rooms.
- LD3 = Minimum Protection. The alarms are in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes.
Want to create a specification for your property? Use our specification generator in 4 simple steps - defining the housing type, level of protection (LD), interconnection type, and accessories required - to create a customised specification document.
2. Siting of smoke, heat and CO alarms
When installing carbon monoxide (CO), heat and smoke alarms in the home, flat ceilings are appropriate for all three, whereby they are sited at least 300mm from walls and light fittings.
It is also best to install smoke and heat alarms as centrally as possible, whereas a CO alarm should be installed between 1 to 3 metres from a fuel burning appliance. If there is a ceiling beam, make sure the alarm is placed twice the depth of the beam away.
For wall-mounted alarms smoke and CO alarms, ensure the alarm is fitted at least 150mm down, and 3000mm away from a perpendicular wall. Heat alarms are suitable for kitchens, lofts and garages - places where fumes or dust may otherwise trigger frequent false alarms if a smoke alarm is fitted.
For more informationon the siting of alarms see our blog on the types of alarms and where to install them.
3. Installing fire alarms
Given SONA by FireAngel alarms have an ultra slim mounting base plate, this makes alarm installation quick and simple with 2 screws.
For fitting smoke and heat alarms, see our video:
It is also important to note that the circuit used to power the alarm must be a 24 hour voltage circuit that cannot be turned off by a switch. Additionally, BS 5839-6:2013 states that mains powered alarms with an integral standby supply (Grade D), should take the form of either:
- An independent circuit at the dwelling’s main circuit board, in which case no other electrical equipment should be connected to this circuit (other than a dedicated monitoring device installed to indicate failure of the mains electricity).
- A separate electrically protected, regularly used, local lighting circuit.
For installing a carbon monoxide alarm, see the video:
There are two ways CO alarms can be mounted onto a wall:
- Drilling 2 holes into the wall, then inserting the plastic wall plugs and 2 screws to secure the bracket in place.
- Using the single point, fixing option to place the nail (provided) through the central hole in the bracket. Then carefully hammering the nail into the wall until the CO alarm is securely in place.
As the CO alarm is battery powered, it can also be free-standing, so it can be placed on a shelf, desk, bedside table, or other appropriate location.
4. Interlinking fire alarms
By installing alarms that link via a Wi-Safe 2 network (using radio frequency), this removes the need for time-consuming channelling and trunking in the home. Alarms can be linked together in a matter of seconds with a simple two-touch process, and up to 50 alarms can be interlinked in this single network.
Have a look at the following Wi-Safe 2 video:
Having interlinking alarms is much safer than having stand-alone alarms, as the network triggers all the alarms as soon as one detects a problem. This can alert all occupants in the house, regardless of where they are.
This is beneficial for high-risk tenants who may find it hard to hear a single-sounding alarm, such as those who are hard-of hearing or sleeping children. Additionally, specialised products such as low-frequency sounders can be interconnected in the system. This is can be particularly useful to the social housing sector, which accommodates a high percentage of vulnerable tenants such as elderly, living with dementia, and the disabled, who require an extra level of fire safety.
For more information , read our interlinking fire alarm systems blog post.
5. Testing alarms
For testing smoke alarms and heat alarms:
(1) Check the red operating LED flashes once every 45 seconds in standby mode
(2) Briefly press the test button in the centre and release.
(3) An audible alarm consisting of two cycles of three loud beeps should occur and then stop automatically.
(4) The red LED on the alarm will flash rapidly during the audible signal.
For testing the carbon monoxide alarm:
(1) Test the sounder, power pack and circuitry by pressing and releasing the test button to confirm that the alarm is operating properly.
(2) The sounder should sound as soon as the Test button is pressed, and the Alarm LED will illuminate red indicating that the sounder is working and the power pack is providing power to the unit.
SONA by FireAngel alarms offer the most technically advanced protection against fire and CO in a single, low-cost system. As seen in the videos, the surface mounting base with hinge lock action means no fuss - just a quick and simple fitting. Not only will this save you time and money in the installation process, but it will also do so in the long run. This is as SONA by FireAngel alarms have a low energy usage (less than 10% compared to other AC alarms!) and a 10 year sealed for life battery back up. You can therefore be confident your alarms are always working.
Installing SONA by FireAngel alarms are also considerate of the tenant. For instance, the ‘Sleep Easy’ function means that the tenant can silence a low battery 'chirp' for 8 hours just by pressing the test button. This allows the tenant to sleep until morning, when action can be taken to get it replaced.
SONA by FireAngel alarms are also designed to be easily operated by the tenant, as they have just one button for testing/silencing. However, if this is hard to access or not feasible (e.g. for disabled tenants), then an alarm control unit can be used. This also greatly reduces the time needed to test each individual alarm as it can be done from one device!
Here's our video of the alarm control unit:
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