A guide on installing a fire alarm correctly, the cost of any materials and labour fees, and what the job entails.
This article will detail the work required to install a fire alarm in your property and will look at the legal aspects as well as the physical work involved. This alarm will be a stand-alone system rather than a chained system that runs throughout the property.
The cost of installing a fire alarm is between £100-£300. The price can vary due to type of alarm, whether it’s battery operated or wired into the mains. If you want a battery-powered alarm, the supply cost is anywhere from £10-£60 and labour fees are £100, on average. A wired-in alarm costs approximately £120 in materials and £160 in labour fees.
While you’re planning where to fit your fire alarm, you’ll be in an excellent position to assess your property and create a strong escape and evacuation plan. This is based on the particular aspects of your property and the position of the alarms, and what areas will be accessible should a fire break out.
Every home should have at least one fire alarm and ideally one in every room. Since modern battery-operated fire alarms are now able to run for several years on a single battery, these are both quick and convenient to fit. When you first plan to fit a fire alarm, you should tour your property and decide the best place to fit them. It is not realistic to simply fit a fire alarm in the first place that you come to in your property, and it should be well planned.
Additionally, fire alarm installations are governed by British Standard BS 5839-6:2019. This is a protocol of practice for fire discovery and fire alarm systems for properties. The code supplies recommendations for the preparation, design, fitting, maintenance and contracting of fire discovery and fire alarm systems in and around commercial buildings, and now includes dwellings too.
The standard does not recommend whether or not a fire alarm system should be installed in any given premises but outlines certain aspects if one is fitted. To conform with this Standard and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a fire safety risk assessment must be fulfilled by a capable person. If you’re unsure about where to site your fire alarm, your local fire brigade team will be happy to review your property and advise you on the citing of the fire alarm and possible evacuation and escape routes. There are four basic types of stand-alone fire alarms, being:
These alarms are responsive to minute particles of smoke created by fast flaming fires.
Installation: As suggested by BS 5839: Pt.6: 2019, ionisation alarms shouldn’t be placed near kitchens or hallways, as they’re more liable to a false alarm due to cooking vapours. The UK Fire and Rescue Services, no longer recommend using ionisation alarms, and you may find them difficult to source.
These are effective at sensing larger particles of smoke from smouldering, slow-burning fires.
Installation: These can be located near kitchens and in circulation spaces, but not too close to badly ventilated bathrooms as they’re liable to false alarm when subjected to steam.
Typically, the thermoptek multi-sensor alarms include two separate detecting elements – visual and heat detection. As the unit observers for two different consequences of fires (smoke and temperature), its reaction to all types of fire is hugely enhanced over traditional single sensor alarms. Because of the duel sensing aspects of this type of alarm, they’re also less susceptible to false alarms connected to the ionisation and the optical type alarms.
Installation: Multi-sensor technology removes the need to fit separate ionisation and optical alarms and delivers a quicker reaction to both fast-flaming and slow smouldering fires in a single alarm. As a result, BS 5839-6 advocates the use of multi-sensor technology in all rooms apart from the kitchen.
These can detect an increase in temperature of just a few degrees, though are insensitive to any smoke, so may not be effective in areas where a fire has not yet established, but smoke (which is a worse killer than flames) has started to infiltrate. Heat alarms are best suited for garages, kitchens, and lofts.
While the actual siting of a fire alarm is dependent upon the layout of your house, there are certain conditions that you should follow when fitting it. These include:
A simple rule is to ensure a person anywhere within the property can hear a smoke alarm when the detection system is activated. If your home has big rooms and lengthy hallways, you’ll want to connect more alarms than you would if you lived in a small flat.
Usually, stand-alone fire alarms are fitted to the ceiling using two screws, which are usually supplied. You will have to open the alarm, locate the screw holes and ensure that the screws fit into a joist in the ceiling for maximum security. Fit the battery (the unit will usually ‘pip’ when this is done) and close the lid. You fire alarm is now fitted and working.
Here is a list of commonly asked questions regarding installing a fire alarm.
The ideal location to connect a smoke alarm is in the centre of the ceiling instead of a wall. Throughout a fire, smoke primarily raises and then distributes to the sides of the room. By installing the alarm on the ceiling, this makes sure that you hear the earliest possible warning of a fire.
Yes, if you are having a mains-powered fire alarm fitted, an electrician must install mains powered smoke alarms, and the work is verified as safe and complete.
A battery-operated fire alarm is perfect as a simple-to-install unit that will always alert you to a fire. Once the battery starts to lose power, the alarm will issue a high-pitched pip sound every few minutes to alert you to the fact. This action makes them safe to use in any circumstances.
Yes, since most domestic fire alarms are stand-alone devices, there is no reason why you cannot have different types of alarm in different areas of your property.
While all fire alarms will issue a short ‘chirp’ as the battery begins to run down, you still need to periodically check that the alarm has not suffered a fault and will simply fail to work. Every fire alarm is fitted with a button that allows you to test that it is still working, and these should be used and tested at least once a month.