Wireless fire alarm systems were first introduced in the early 80s, but those early models quickly gained a poor reputation due to their unreliability and short battery life. With the advances in technology over the years, today’s wireless fire alarm (also known as a radio fire alarm) is far more sophisticated and reliable. Fully monitored, its major benefit is that there is no need to run cables between each individual device on the fire alarm network; cables are only required to install the control and signal booster wireless fire alarm panel to the mains electricity supply.
The radio fire alarm is the same as the standard analogue addressable fire alarm but without any wires to connect the detection and sounders. It is often not practical to run cables through a building, and this is where the wireless fire alarm is ideal. Another advantage of this system is that is takes a lot less time to install, reducing expenses. A single battery-powered device can easily be fitted in a room in around half an hour. On the other hand, a hard wired type of alarm system can take days, weeks or even months to put into place, depending on the size of the building.
For large establishments such as hotels, schools and leisure centers, that often have multiple buildings on their premises, a wireless fire alarm system is the most effective option, particularly for those businesses who cannot afford to lose revenue as a result of closing parts of the building while wiring is carried out. A fire alarm system is an investment a business cannot afford to forego, for numerous reasons. The risk of injury and loss of life is, of course, the primary concern. Businesses also need to protect their properties, fixtures and valuable items from fire damage. Having a proper working fire alarm system in place ensures the safety of staff and visitors to the business premises and means that if a fire does break out; they are alerted to the danger, and can safely vacate the building.
Because they are so flexible and easy to install, radio fire alarm systems are often used on occasions where only a temporary alarm solution is required, such as on commercial building sites where it is important to have a fire detection system in place for the duration of the project. When the work is complete, the system can be easily packed up and moved on to the next building site. Systems can also be expanded as and when required, without the disruption, time and cost of dealing with numerous cables.
One of the issues with early wireless fire alarms was the interference caused by the fact that they used similar radio frequencies to other services, such as cab companies. Nowadays they have their own dedicated communication frequency, making false alarms far less likely and the wireless system far more reliable overall. An issue that has not gone away is that the batteries powering the alarms require replacement when they run out. However, as with the alarms themselves, battery technology has progressed in the past thirty years and the use of lithium batteries is now widespread amongst wireless alarm manufacturers. Lithium batteries have a far longer life span than the traditional batteries that were used in early styles of these alarms; many manufacturers claim that their lithium batteries will last up to seven years.
If you are setting up a business or replacing an old fire alarm system, your first step is to contact an alarm company that will visit your premises and advise you on the type and size of wireless alarm system that will best meet your needs. They will provide you with an estimate for supply and service; it is recommended that you obtain a few estimates from different companies to allow you to compare costs and see what best fits with your budget. Do not always go for the cheapest estimate; it is often worth paying a little more to receive a higher quality of service. Check what guarantees and warranties are included, both for the system itself and for the installation process. A good place to start is by going online and browsing through websites of different companies. This gives you the chance to find out about them and see what exactly they can offer you, before you even need to speak to anybody. Do not be scared to ask them to supply you with a reference from a satisfied customer; if this seems to be a problem for them, that is a sure sign that you should steer clear. You simply cannot be too careful when it comes to putting safety measures in place for your business or indeed your home.
To ensure that the system is continuing to do the job it is designed, qualified professionals must also, of course, test wireless fire alarm systems at regular intervals. This will give you the peace of mind that you are doing all you can to protect those around you from the potential risk of fire.