How Commercial Fire Alarms Work?

Fire Sprinter SystemIn 2018, there were an estimated 1,318,500 fires in the United States; out of that, 103,600 were commercial fires. The numbers below represent the cause of the top 65% of all commercial fires in America.

With this in mind, the number of injuries and deaths from commercial fires has increased compared to 2009. This is why retail locations need to have a working commercial grade fire alarm system in place and a reliable alarm monitoring service to watch over your property every minute of the day and night.

In every city across America, there are building codes that outline everything from the type of drywall you need to used for firewall protection to the type of electrical wiring required. These codes also will outline the amount of fire control valves your location must have based on several factors such as square feet, the usage of the space, what floor it’s located on, and so much more.

Full fire systems do not come cheap, but the fact of the matter is you can’t put a price on a life. Not only do they save lives, but they also help protects your property. There is a vast difference between losing one to two rooms of your building vs. your whole building.

Restaurant, food truck, office building, gym, it doesn’t matter what it is, before you can open your doors and allow customers into your location, you need to pass your fire inspection from the local fire marshal. There are quite a few different options for commercial-grade fire protection components, and we will be breaking them all down here.

Designing and installing a fire system that will meet all of your city and county codes is a very complex undertaking. Knowing how each device works is not hard at all; as a business owner, you need to understand each item’s purpose and how it works.

Here at Complete Fire, we understand what our customers and local fire marshals need and require. Our job is to get you the best solution at the best price and to have you pass your inspections with flying colors. But that’s not where we leave off; we also provide fire system monitoring services, so we are with you for as long as you are in business.

There are many different fire detection systems on the market to help save lives and properties, ranging from carbon monoxide detection systems to leaky pipes and more.


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Smoke detectors

smoke sensor

The most common and visible one is the standard smoke detector; these detectors are a fundamental component of any fire prevention system. 

The primary function of these small units that you can even find throughout your home is to help detect and alert you and everyone else in the building of smoke that is filling the air.

These will be most likely located in the room’s tallest points because smoke rises, so it would trip faster than if it was on the sidewall.

 With these detectors’ compact sizes, they can be installed in the smallest of spaces to the largest rooms to provide the much needed optimal protection.

Local fire codes and on your building permit will often lay out the number of smoke detectors you need, and where you will need them based on each location, Complete Fire Protection will work with your team and any engineers, consultants, fire marshals to make sure they are up to code.

CO detectors

co detectorsCarbon monoxide detectors are used to help detect fuel that has been burned incompletely within the air; this means that each business with a water heater is at risk for releasing carbon monoxide into the air. 

These CO detectors come with electrochemical sensors that send signals to the fire alarm control panel when carbon monoxide is detected. Over 15,000 people across America get CO poisoning each year and have to go to the hospital. This is why these carbon monoxide detectors are essential for every home and business.
Hand pulls

One of the most common fire alarms people are familiar with the most is the pull alarms. These work like their name suggests, they are a pull alarm. Most schools across America and public buildings use this type of alarm.

By pulling the device down, it triggers the alarm, sirens, and strobes. This is the quickest way for someone to alert the system and people of a fire, and within seconds the fire department is notified. Even though it can take a few minutes for the smoke to reach the smoke detectors, the hand pulls will only go off when someone pulls it. If there is no pull, it will not go off and will need to wait for the smoke detectors to activate the alarm.

Handpulls work inline with the detectors allowing for a faster evacuation of a building when there is a problem and helps create a quicker reaction time by local emergency service crews. 

Hand pull alarms come in many different sizes, shapes, and brands.



Fire alarm systems are more than just one or two devices to detect fires and emergencies; the smaller devices are not capable of notifying people inHorn Strobe large areas, so that is why there are horns and strobes come in.

The horns are connected to the alarm system just like a wifi signal booster helps transmits your internet signal. These horns are powerful enough to be used in areas, convention halls, and stadiums. They magnify the siren that comes from the alarm system and is not visible as they can be hidden in the walls or the ceiling.

The strobes are typically on the walls and or ceilings. They like the horns and don’t detect anything; their only purpose is to create a flashing white strobe light to help people see there is an issue and need to leave. This also helps notify people who might be deaf that there is a fire and they need to leave the building.

Larger occupancy buildings like hotels, schools, arenas, etc., use the horn/strobe combo to help notify occupants of any alarm. Not using a system like this can cause a great deal of liability for your company if people can’t hear the alarms.

A perfect example of using this combo is at a football stadium during a game or an indoor arena during a concert; the strobe lights are crucial to notifying people when they usually would not hear the sirens.

Again, the main goal here is to save lives.


Voice Evacuation Alarm Systems

voice alarm systemHorns and strobes are a great tool to help alert people of a fire in a building, but if you’re in a large building you are not familiar with, where do you go? That is why they created a voice evacuation system. A voice evacuation system broadcasts pre-recorded messages, guiding people to the closest exits near them.

This system can deliver different messages based on where you are located in a building to help guide you out.

This is like your home computer, it’s the brains of your firealarm.

The system can also be set up to give additional messages based on the emergency, such as fires, gas leaks, severe weather, active shooter, and more.

There will be less chaos during an evacuation by having a voice evacuation system in place. These systems have become so popular that they are now required for any high occupancy locations in Michigan.

Water sensors

Most people might not have heard about water detectors before, but yes, it’s a thing. These are placed in areas that water leaks can occur. The types ofwater alarm sensor places that would use this would include locations with sump pumps, large water heaters, large aquariums such as the Denver aquarium that holds 1,000,000 gallons of saltwater.

For businesses like these, having a water sensor is crucial and, most of the time, requires early detection of any water leaks so they can be handled in a timely fashion before it becomes a larger problem by causing extensive damage and endangering people’s lives.

Water damage, even a small amount, can run into the thousands to fix, so having an early detection system is essential to saving tons of money and, in some cases, livestock.

Temperature sensors

fire sensorTemperature sensors might not seem as important as a fire detector, but this is more of a cost savings sensor. For example, you will find these located in IT server rooms, freezers, etc., places that must not go above a set temperature or risk looking product or destroying equipment.

These temperature sensors can be set to any temperature needed to notify you of any alerts. You can also set them to go off at different levels, such as warning and critical levels. Some systems are set to trigger coolers once a set temperature is reached.

Heat detectors are also used in places where smoke detectors cannot be used, such as a kitchen where smoke is often present from the grills. The tempter for heat detectors in kitchens, for example, would be at set to 125 degrees. If the temperature rises above that, it will send a signal to the alarm box that will trigger the alarm and notify the fire department.

Depending on the use, temperature sensors can play an equal or more significant role than a smoke detector, such as using temperature sensors in a nuclear reactor facility. Keeping a set temperature is mission-critical to saving tons of lives.

The local city and county rules surrounding life safety systems and the installation are very complicated and also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

No matter if you are opening a new location or making design changes to an existing location, you need to make sure you have all the right system parts in place. Also, the maintenance of these can become a fast headache for most business owners. That’s why they outsource it and the monitoring to companies like Complete Fire Protection.

When it comes to protecting your customers, employees, and your property, you should never settle for anything less than the best.




Is a smoke detector and fire alarm system the same?

No, a smoke detector acts only as a sensor to detect any smoke while a fire alarm system acts upon it. The fire alarm system is the main device that a number of different devices such as the smoke detector connects to. This helps give a building complete protection from a fire.

What does it mean when your fire alarm goes off for no reason?

Smoke alarms commonly will go off and sound brief (up to 5 seconds) when you install a brand new battery or when they are first powered up. If you are noticing your alarm is going to go off and no smoke is present, there may be insufficient power, try to replace the batteries.

What is a fire alarm strobe?

Strobes are designed for full building notification in the case if a fire, they produce a loud sound to notify any and all building occupants to evacuate the building. The strobes are also intended to notify those that may have a hearing impairment.

Where are fire alarm strobes required?

According to the NFPA 72, strobes are required in hallways and corridors and they are to be visible from anywhere. The code outlines these specific requirements: Strobes lights must be installed no further than 100 feet apart and run the full length of any hallway. Strobes must be also be located within 15 feet of each end of the hallway.

What DB should a fire alarm be?

A typical fire alarm in the United States will sound off between 65 and 120-decibel range. According to the National Institute on Deafness, repeated exposure to sounds that are 85 decibels or above is enough to cause permanent hearing loss.

Are fire alarm strobes required in bathrooms?

Visual strobe lights should be installed in all public areas that are to be used by hearing-impaired individuals such as hallways, restrooms, and building lobbies.

How do you install a strobe fire alarm?

When using strobes, the NFPA requires that the strobes are to be positioned no more than 24 inches from the ceiling. The strobes must be placed on the wall within 16 feet of the doors.