Fire alarms: what’s the best product for your home fire safety?

Fire alarms are a vital piece of equipment to ensure adequate levels of fire safety in your home. Research carried out in the UK has shown that residents are four times more likely to die in a house fire if they do not have functional smoke alarms installed in their property. As of October 2015, it’s a legal requirement for UK landlords to install smoke alarms in their properties, according to specific fire safety guidelines.

Fire alarms: basic information and compliance with fire safety regulations

First up, what exactly do we mean by a fire alarm? Fire alarms are pieces of fire safety equipment that perform two key functions:

  • Smoke detection

Most smoke detector models also pick up on toxic fumes that could pose a risk to residents’ safety, such as carbon monoxide, as well as non-toxic substances such as water vapour

  • Sounding an easily audible alarm to alert residents that there’s a risk of fire in the building

As well as an automatic smoke sensor function, this alarm is likely to include a manual trigger function so that residents can raise the alarm if they become aware of a fire risk

The latest legislation in the UK (British Standard 5839-6:2019) classifies fire detection and fire alarm systems for domestic premises into various categories:

LD1 – Maximum Protection

  • Smoke detectors installed in areas used as escape routes in the event of a fire (hallways and landings, for example)
  • Smoke or heat detectors installed in all rooms where a fire might start in the home (such as the living room, bedrooms, loft, kitchen and garage)

LD2 – Additional Protection

  • Smoke detectors installed in areas used as escape routes in the event of a fire
  • Smoke or heat detectors installed in some selected rooms where a fire might start in the home (such as the living room, loft and kitchen)

LD3 – Minimum Protection

  • Smoke detectors only installed in areas used as escape routes in the event of a fire

British Standard 5839-6:2019 also categorises fire detection and alarm system equipment based on the levels of fire safety provided:

Grade A

  • Separate smoke and/or heat detectors installed in the building
  • Fire safety system includes a central control panel
  • System incorporates a product to visually indicate that the fire safety system has been triggered
  • Back-up power supply for fire safety equipment complies with fire safety standard BS EN 54

Grade C

  • Separate smoke and/or heat detectors installed in the building
  • Fire safety system includes a central control panel
  • Smoke and/or heat detectors powered by mains electricity
  • All detectors include a back-up power supply

Grade D1

  • Smoke and/or heat detectors powered by mains electricity
  • All detectors include tamper-proof batteries as a back-up power supply

Grade D2

  • Smoke and/or heat detectors powered by mains electricity
  • All detectors include batteries as a back-up power supply that will require regular replacement by residents

Grade F1

  • Smoke and/or heat detectors powered by tamper-proof batteries

Grade F2

  • Smoke and/or heat detectors (single or multiple) powered by batteries that will require regular replacement by residents

How should you choose the best fire safety equipment for your home?

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Install your smoke detectors on the ceiling in hallways and landings, as well as in other rooms of the home depending on the fire safety classification that you’re aiming for.

For increased levels of fire safety, install smoke detectors on every floor of the property.

As of October 2015, UK landlords are legally required to install smoke detectors on each floor of their properties that is used as living space, as well as to install carbon monoxide detectors in all areas with devices that burn solid fuel (for example coal or wood).

In addition, landlords are legally required to test the function of these smoke detectors at the start of each new tenancy.

After that point, it becomes the residents’ responsibility to regularly check the function of their home’s detectors.

If your smoke detectors run on batteries, ensure that you regularly replace these and check that the detectors’ alarm function is working properly.

Avoid installing smoke detectors in areas where steam is likely to regularly trigger a false fire alarm, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Instead, you might want to install heat detectors in these parts of the house.

Remember, though: legal guidelines stipulate that heat detectors cannot be used as a substitute for smoke detectors in the home.

You might also want to consider installing carbon monoxide detectors within your property, to effectively detect these toxic fumes and ensure residents’ safety.

UK government guidelines recommend installing your home’s carbon monoxide detectors at head height and approximately 1 to 3 metres away from any devices that could potentially emit these toxic fumes.

It’s worth bearing in mind that household appliances that use gas are potential sources of carbon monoxide. So, it’s wise to install appropriate detectors near to these, too.

Fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are not compulsory fire safety equipment for private homes, but you might want to consider installing them close to areas that pose the greatest risk of fire (the kitchen, for example).

Fire evacuation plans

In the event of a fire in your home, it’s vital that everyone living there knows how to evacuate the property and get to safety. Knowing how you’d all get out in a potential emergency will save time if there is a fire and could also save lives.

Netatmo Info

Looking to improve the fire safety systems in your home? Install Netatmo’s Smart Smoke Detector and you’ll never need to worry about changing the batteries! The Netatmo Smart Smoke Detector is specially designed to have a battery lifespan of 10 years, covering the entire useful life of the device. Plus, the Smart Smoke Detector regularly auto-checks its own function and sends you periodic reminders to test its audible alarm function. Handy!