Everything You Need To Know About Fire Alarms

Posted November 16th, 2023 by SimpliSafe

If you’re thinking about upgrading your fire alarm system, it’s never too early to start planning and doing your research. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were over 340,000 home structure fires each year recorded in the last five years. It’s no wonder why fire alarm systems are one of the most important components of fire safety in both commercial buildings and homes. These systems are designed to detect fires early, providing essential time for evacuation and response. 

Today, there are ways to detect and potentially prevent a fire with the right alarm or detection system. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about fire detection systems and help arm you with the information you need to choose the right one for your home. 

Why are Fire Alarm Systems Essential?

Many of us overlook the importance of fire alarm systems. The often white and round equipment simply blends into our homes’ ceilings, and we forget about it until we hear a beep reminding us to change the batteries. But fire alarm systems shouldn’t fade into the background. Here are some of the reasons fire alarms are essential to maintaining your home’s safety: 

1. Early Detection and Warning:

Fire alarm systems are equipped with a network of sensors, including smoke detectors, heat detectors, and sometimes even advanced technologies like infrared and ultraviolet sensors. These sensors are finely tuned to detect the very earliest signs of fire, even before visible flames or dense smoke develop. The moment they sense a potential threat, they spring into action, sounding alarms and initiating a rapid response. This early detection is a lifesaver, providing occupants with precious minutes to evacuate safely.

2. Limiting Damage:

Fire can wreak havoc in a matter of seconds. What starts as a small flame can swiftly grow into an uncontrollable inferno. Fire alarm systems help to limit the extent of damage by catching fires before they can be completely destructive while also alerting anyone in the fire’s presence to get out as quickly as possible. Their ability to detect and alert rapidly allows fire-fighting measures to be initiated promptly, whether it's activating sprinkler systems, notifying the fire department, or engaging fire suppression systems. This quick response can be the difference between a manageable incident and a devastating catastrophe.

3. Saving Lives:

The primary purpose of any fire alarm system is to save lives. When a fire breaks out, the most critical concern is ensuring the safe evacuation of building occupants. Fire alarm systems provide the earliest possible warning, giving people the best chance to exit the premises unharmed. 

4. Adherence to Building and Fire Codes:

Building and fire codes, such as NFPA 72 (National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code), are in place to set the standards for the design, installation, and maintenance of fire alarm systems. Compliance with these codes is not just a legal requirement but a moral necessity, especially for building owners who want to keep their tenants safe while avoiding liability. Simply installing a fire alarm that’s up to code can help keep landlords in check and give tenants peace of mind. 

Types of Fire Alarm Systems

There are two types of fire alarm systems worth considering: stand-alone fire alarms or smoke detectors and smoke detectors that integrate with a larger smart home security system.

Stand-Alone Alarms: Stand-alone fire alarms or smoke detectors are some of the most common solutions to detecting smoke within a home early and alerting you to danger before your home experiences any major damage. Such alarms do not require an external power source, nor do they need a control panel to function. When smoke is detected, these alarms with signal an audible alarm, warning those inside of the presence of smoke or fire. 

Integrated Alarms: Integrated smoke detectors interact with a larger smart home security system. In the presence of smoke or fire, not only will the smoke detector signal an audible alarm, but it will often send you an app alert and notify the authorities that help is needed.

SimpliSafe’s combined smoke and carbon monoxide detector takes traditional integrated smoke detectors a step further. Not only does the detector detect smoke, but it also detects dangerous levels of carbon monoxide within the home – all in one product. In addition, it can tell the difference between non-threatening smoke (such as smoke from burning food) and dangerous smoke, so you are only alerted during an actual emergency. Other benefits include:

  • Instant phone alerts about dangerous smoke or CO levels, even when you’re not at home

  • Build-in internal siren as well as connection to the system’s Base Station siren

  • Cuts down on the number of sensors you need for hazard protection

  • Automatic daily system check-ins

  • Sends an early warning notification through the Base Station if smoke is sensed in your home

How to Choose the Right Fire Alarm System

Now that you know all the different types of fire alarm systems and fire prevention systems, how can you choose the best one for your needs? After all, choosing the right system can significantly minimize property damage and, more importantly, save lives. 

Here's what you need to consider when selecting the most suitable fire alarm system:

Compatibility with Building Types and Sizes: While larger buildings may require more complex systems with multiple detection points and zones, smaller homes can benefit from simpler, cost-effective solutions. 

Functionality and Ease of Use: A well-designed fire alarm system should be intuitive and user-friendly. Understanding how the system operates and how easy it is to use for the members of your family or for your work staff are just as important as the device itself. Look for systems that provide clear instructions and can be easily understood by your home’s residents or your building’s occupants.

Budget and Installation Options: In addition to being user-friendly, you’ll also want a system that can be installed easily. There are many DIY fire alarm systems out there that can help save you on cost in the process.

Compatibility with iOS Devices: Opting for a fire alarm system compatible with iOS devices offers several advantages. You can receive remote alerts, monitor the system's status in real-time, and have convenient remote control over the system. This level of connectivity enhances your ability to respond effectively in case of a fire emergency.

Integration into Smart Home Systems: Being able to integrate your fire alarm system with your overall smart home ecosystem can be a game-changer. Such integration enables more efficient responses and management in case of a fire. Additionally, being able to add on professional monitoring can help ensure the authorities are dispatched automatically, especially when you may miss a notification on your device. 

Early and Accurate Alerts: Timely alerts to the fire department are of paramount importance. Efficient fire alarm systems can save crucial minutes in alerting responders, leading to quicker response times and potentially minimizing damage. Ensure your system can provide early and accurate alerts to emergency services.

The Bottom Line

Having a fire alarm system in your home or business can protect your structure from irreparable damage. Remember, every second counts when it comes to fire safety, so it’s important to be proactive when it comes to choosing which fire alarm system is right for you. 

Don't wait—explore SimpliSafe’s fire detection products today and prioritize the safety of your home and family!