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Smoke detectors connected to a security system


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I have a small commercial property, approx 40 sq m, it comprises two ground floor storage units with two small offices above, the offices are accessed via a central fire protected stairwell, all doors are FD30, mains powered smoke detector ( with battery backup ) on landing. fire extinguishers & emergency lighting provided.

We have recently had a security alarm fitted, there are spare zones and these have been allocated as fire zones, smoke detectors have been fitted to provide early warning of fire in the un-occupied storage units below the offices.

The fire action plan states that anyone discovering a fire should shout FIRE to alert any other occupants in the building, I would like to have a manual call point fitted to one of the spare fire zones, this would allow for better warning of a fire and also enable the system to be easily tested and the staff made aware of what the fire alarm sounds like.

I have been told that I cannot install a call point as the "alarm system" is not a "fire alarm"

I cannot foresee any  risk with doing this and surely any improvement to the system would reduce the risk in the event of a fire. I know the use of security systems being used for fire detection is a grey area at the moment but any advice on this issue would be appreciated.

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What does your Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) say about the fire alarm because a mains powered smoke detector ( with battery backup ) is for domestic premises not commercial. The problem is that intruder and fire alarms should be installed using different British Standards, also using the relevant part depending on the use of the premises. I would think combined fire and intruder alarm would be more suited to domestic premises.

Another consideration is the legislation is risk based so occasionally risk assessor will deviate from the norm so you need to study your FRA closely.

A further considerations is that the standard for installing a fire alarm is much higher than an intruder alarm and if an intruder alarm fails the worse scenario is the loss of property if a fire alarms fails it could be the loss of a life. 


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To add to what Tom has said, an intruder alarm is just that, its an intruder alarm. Add what you like to it, it is NOT a life safety system, and as such it should never be relied upon to be a life safety system.

Or to put it another way, a fire alarm has to have sound levels that are above the ambient background noise in all areas, the cable (particularly for the sounders) has to be able to with stand a fire for around 30 minutes.

An intruder alarm has an external sounder and an internal speaker / sounder (if you are lucky) that is loud when the building is empty but often can be "drowned out" by other noises, and a standard alarm cable will last all of 30 seconds in a fire.

Also most intruder alarms when they indicate fire, people often assume its the intruder alarm simply because its the same device making a noise, fire sounders are usually bright red to help identify its to indicate fire.

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Smoke detectors on a commercial intruder alarm are not for life safety and are for property protection out of hours via the intruder systems dialler or Redcare link.

If your premises are so large a shout of fire, hand operated gong, whistle or similar cannot be heard throughout the premises without putting persons are risk then an electrical manual fire alarm system using call points and sounders to Category M of BS5893-1 is required.

This is the legal benchmark and in simple non sleeping risk premises you do not require any detection unless there is a risk of a fire going undiscovered for long enough to prejudice escape - most single occupancy premises don't need this as they are usually occupied such that the staff would readily discover a fire early on and activate a call point (human senses are better detectors than you might have thought)

Smoke alarms are for residential use, not commercial, although there are a few applications where they may be used, such as for inner room situations where only a local alarm is needed of a fire in an access room.


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