Fire detector

The risk of a domestic fire is never zero, even if precautions are taken to minimise this risk. There are more than 260,000 domestic fires every year in France and the fire service is called out to more than 300,000 fires per year. With 800 fire-related deaths being recorded every year, it's clear why it's a good idea to fit your home with a fire protection device to detect the start of a fire as soon as possible before it spreads.

The different fire detection devices

Various devices are available to detect the start of a fire. Some are very specific and designed for business premises or locations under strict surveillance. These include:
  • Heat detectors
These detectors are usually combined with smoke alarms and are fitted in places where installing a smoke alarm is not possible or could cause frequent false alarms (in a very dusty environment or where the activities carried out produce smoke). A heat detector is referred to as thermostatic if the alarm is triggered above a preset temperature threshold, or thermo-velocimetric if it responds to the speed of the temperature increase.
  • Flame detectors
These detectors react to the radiation produced by flames. Fitted with a unit that detects UV rays or infrared radiation, they are highly effective but not as fast as a smoke alarm, since they are only triggered after a fire has broken out. A sprinkler system or an extinguisher can nevertheless prevent a fire from spreading, and the alert enables the premises to be evacuated.
  • Detectors-analysers
There are also air-sampling smoke detectors that analyse the air composition in the location being protected to detect the presence of particles that indicate the start of a fire. Sampling tubes direct the air to an analysis unit. This very specific and expensive system has the advantage of sounding the alarm very early if a fire starts.
  • Smoke alarms
Far more common in residential properties, a smoke alarm is a device that identifies the presence of smoke in the air and detects the potential start of a fire. It is also known in France as an autonomous smoke detection and alarm device, precisely because it performs two functions: it detects suspicious smoke and alerts a home's inhabitants by triggering an audible alarm.

How does a fire detector work by detecting smoke?

Smoke alarms are simple, small and usually cylindrical devices positioned on a wall or ceiling. They require no further attention after installation and operate autonomously. If a fire breaks out, either during the day or at night, the detector produces a loud audible alarm to allow the home's occupants to react quickly by putting out the fire before it spreads, getting out of their home or rapidly alerting the emergency services.

The benefit of having a fire detector is that it not only detects the presence of smoke but also provides a very early warning system that alerts a home's occupants before they are in danger. With 80% of the 800 fire-related deaths being caused by poisoning from toxic smoke, flames are not the only danger and it's important for the alarm to be sounded as soon as a domestic fire breaks out.

A smoke alarm contains a photoelectric sensor. If the light this sensor receives is disrupted by smoke particles, the alarm is set off and the audible signal can be heard. A good smoke alarm should contain an audible alarm that's loud enough to wake up someone who's asleep, either during the day or at night. Indeed, 70% of deaths caused by a fire occur at night.

Some detectors are linked to the home's power circuit, although most products contain one or more batteries. To test the alarm regularly, some detectors have a test button: you simply press it to check the alarm can be heard if need be. Discover all our products

Fire detectors mandatory in every home

Smoke alarms have been proven to save lives. In countries where you must install a smoke alarm by law, the number of deaths caused by fires has been halved. As a result, on 8 March 2015, legislation introduced by the French minister of housing Cécile Duflot made it mandatory for a smoke alarm to be installed in every home.

As such, every home must have at least one smoke alarm with the CE marking and a loud signal to alert every occupant wherever they are in the home. If a residence has several floors, it's recommended to install one alarm per floor, rather than one for the entire home.

If the home is occupied by a tenant, the owner and the tenant must jointly check that the smoke alarm is working properly when the check-in inventory takes place. It's then up to the tenant to regularly make sure that the smoke alarm is maintained and in good working order, and notably to change the batteries when necessary. The occupant of the home (whether tenant or owner) must also give their insurer a certificate stating that the home has been fitted with a smoke alarm.

Installing a fire detector

The homeowner is responsible for fitting a smoke alarm in order to comply with the law. To ensure its proper functioning and guarantee the safety of occupants, certain rules must be followed when installing a smoke alarm: the device must be positioned centrally in the home, at a height (ideally on the ceiling), far away from the kitchen and bathroom, as steam or smoke produced from cooking could set off the alarm by accident, and nearby the main bedroom so that it can be heard at night. Following these rules when installing an alarm ensures that it will work properly and that the home's occupants will be safer.

How to choose a smoke alarm

There's a smoke alarm for every budget. To choose the right product for you, follow the legal recommendations and decide carefully whether you're getting value for money. Saving money shouldn't be the primary goal where your safety is concerned! The price directly depends on the product's components, the options (insect screen, caravan compatibility, etc.) and the type of battery used. This can be alkaline or lithium and lasts for between one and ten years. This may make the device more expensive and is a factor you need to think about when looking at the prices of different products.

Lastly, consider whether you need a smart fire detector, which has an alarm but also sends you an alert on your smartphone. This gives you an added layer of security, as you'll be alerted even if you're in the garden or away from home. Even if you're thousands of miles away, you can take action to prevent the situation becoming worse, such as alerting the owner, a neighbour or the fire service.

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