Making Company Security Decisions

Wireless Fire Alarms Are Reducing False and Failed Alarms

Fire alarm systems are critical early warning systems required in all buildings. They save lives and limit property damage. But like any electronic device, they can fail. Improper placement, signal corruption, and poor maintenance can put the lives of your building occupants at risk. 

Alarmingly, in about 47 percent of fires, a present fire alarm does not sound. Wireless fire alarm systems can reduce and prevent the problems that can cause your fire alarms to fail at critical times.

Improper Fire Alarm Placement

The improper placement of fire alarms is a major cause of fire alarm failure. In rooms with high ceilings, for example, fire alarms placed in the highest location can fail to detect smoke and heat at lower points in the room. Since the smoke detector sensors are part of the unit in conventional fire alarms, they operate over a smaller detection area.

Wireless protocols, in contrast, can intercommunicate with any type of sensor placed anywhere in your building. Without having to worry about wiring, you can easily place smoke detectors and heat detectors anywhere in a room. This flexibility provides substantially improved coverage.

Signal Corruption

Wire-free fire alarm systems eliminate the most common types of signal problems. You no longer have to worry about ground faults when wires touch grounded metal or circuit problems caused by broken or disconnected wires. Many of these problems arise from improper fire alarm system installation. 

Wireless systems use a number of advanced communication technologies to improve signal integrity, including:

  • multi-directional antennas to reduce signal corruption 
  • wireless frequency hopping to reduce interference from equipment and building materials 
  • amplitude and frequency tuning to improve signal quality 

Battery Failures

Wireless fire alarm systems still need batteries which, disconcertingly, are the cause of 25 percent of smoke alarm failures. In new fire alarm systems, many batteries last for the life of the device. When the batteries are draining, the alarm will alert you.

The Role of Fire Alarm Systems in a Smart Building

In the connected home or building of the future, wireless fire alarms will have more functions and become part of smarter systems. Imagine the interconnected fire alarm automatically alerting the fire department and your smartphone of a fire in progress. At the same time, cameras are activated to record the fire and property damage. 

All video and sensor data is then submitted wirelessly to your insurance company to expedite your insurance claim. This smart fire alarm system is already operating in some smart buildings today. The first building block is installing a wireless fire alarm system.