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Test your smoke and fire alarms this new year

As we all know, fire safety is no joke, so to start the New Year off right it’s a great time to book in a check of all your systems. Whilst you wait for professional assistance, it’s also important to remember to manually check your fire alarm yourself. Don’t worry, if you can’t remember how to, our experts here at Target Fire Protection can provide you with all the information you will need in order to do so.

Each year the fire brigade attends to more than 600,000 commercial and domestic fire-related emergencies – resulting in 800 deaths and more than 17,000 serious injuries.

It is estimated that 50,000 of these call outs are among a domestic setting, killing over half (500) people in a year and injuring more than 11,000 individuals. These statistics show that the home is where people are more slack with their fire safety, which is devastating as this can be prevented with simple warning systems.

Smoke Alarms

Are important devices that either sound or flash in order to alert whoever is in the building. Smoke alarms are vital to all buildings because they can detect the start of the fire, offering you enough time to evacuate the building. Smoke alarms are usually fixed to a ceiling and will need to be tested on a weekly basis to ensure they work and must checked by a professional every six months.

What type of alarm do you have?

There are different type of smoke alarms including:

  • Ionisationdetect small particles of smoke and are usually found in the home. These systems will signal fast flaming fires that are fueled by paper, wood, bedding and clothes. If a fire like this occurs in your home, your ionisation smoke alarm will sound before thick smoke begins to plume. Ionisation alarms will notice clean burning fires because they are super sensitive to small radioactive sources but can be set off by cooking fumes.
  • Optical – quickly detect large particles of smoke that’s found from slow-burning fires usually caused by overheating PVC wires and foam-filled furniture such as sofas and bean bags. Again, like ionisation smoke alarms, optical alarms can also be sensitive if placed in a kitchen, so it’s best to place them nearby instead.
  • Heat Alarms – detect a rise in temperature and work best in kitchens because they’re not set off by smoke. To cover a large room, multiple detectors require installing to ensure they’re effective.
  • Combined optical smoke and heat alarm to prevent false alarms occurring from cooking fumes, both systems have been combined together, this type of smoke alarm also increases the speed of smoke detection.
  • Combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm – both fixtures can be mounted to your ceiling in one simple unit, taking up less space than having two separate systems.

Looking after your smoke alarm

  • When you buy a smoke alarm, always keep the manual and refer to this when it’s time to make some quick, live saving checks. When testing your smoke alarm you must look to:
  • Test them when the clocks have gone forwards or backwards for the winter or summer.
  • Dust it gently to remove any dirt or dust that may have accumulated around the system – to prevent a delay in smoke detection. Removing dust from the sensors will ensure it runs like clockwork.
  • Change its battery once a year.
  • If you’ve had your smoke alarm for 10 years, it’s time to get a brand new one.

How to test a fire alarm system

You should test on a weekly basis and have professionals attend every six months. Press the test button (usually in the middle) on your smoke alarm, this will sound to show you that the battery is working and ready to sound in the event of a fire. Press once again to stop it from sounding.
Commercial and industrial alarms are tested via a test panel or using service and test equipment. Only the call points are tested each week so a professional like Target Fire Protection should attempt every six months to test the smoke and heat detectors.

The importance of checking your fire alarms and smoke alarms for commercial and domestic properties

We’re all culprits of saying I’ll check that later but in the case of your smoke alarms, it’s incredibly important to avoid this train of thought. Set yourself reminders to test them once a week, it takes only a few seconds to push the test button and back off again. Giving yourself extra minutes to evacuate a building in the event of a fire could be the difference between life or death. Always plan an escape route and communicate your options with family members or staff, depending on where you are. Always keep your escape routes free of obstructions and make sure everyone in the home or office knows where to go and how to exit.

Target Fire Protection operate throughout Rochdale, Oldham, Bury and Manchester and work with customers nationwide. Whatever it is you require we offer first-rate fire safety courses, fire risk assessments, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, PAT testing, dry riser and hydrant testing and fire safety signage. For free impartial advice, call our expert team today.