Industrial fire alarm systems

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Industrial Fire Alarm Systems

All properties, including homes and workplaces, are susceptible to fires, but certain properties are more at risk such as manufacturing facilities, food processing, steel, automotive, and power generation plants.

Such industrial properties are used for manufacturing and assembling a wide variety of things using heavy tools and machinery to get the job done, leading to an increase in the chances for a fire to break out.

Fires are dangerous, regardless of where they occur, and can cause loss of life and property. But with the right measures, they are preventable.

Read on to find out what causes fires to break out in industrial properties, the different types of industrial fire alarm systems that you can use to minimise the risk, and how much they cost:


With so many processes being carried out in industrial properties such as factories and manufacturing plants, there is a high risk of fires breaking out, especially in places that use flammable materials to work with.

Here are the most common causes of industrial fires:

Heavy machinery

Heavy tools and machinery are used to make everyday processes in factories smoother and more efficient, but regardless of how sophisticated they are, they may be susceptible to faults.

Most of the time, these faults can be easily fixed without creating an issue, but at times, they can be more severe, especially if they are left untreated for a long time.

Things like oil spills or toxic fluid spills, coupled with sparks from these heavy machines can quickly turn into a fire hazard if not cleaned immediately.

Stock and inventory

Most industrial properties, such as clothing factories, paper factories, and furniture factories, are home to several different types of products and materials, most of which are flammable.

A small spark near where this flammable stock is stored can start a fire and be devastating in every way.

Particularly dangerous in places where huge amounts of flammable materials are stored in large areas with no divided sections, fires can spread incredibly fast and create havoc in the workplace.

Electrical faults

Everything runs on electricity, from the smallest light bulbs to the heaviest machines. While clearly a blessing that we can’t fathom living without, faults in electrical systems can be very dangerous and cause fires to start if left unrepaired.

Industrial properties, such as factories, rely heavily on electricity for their assembly lines and heavy machinery that is constantly in motion.

This puts strain on the electrical systems, causing them to overload and malfunction, and potentially start an electrical fire that could spread throughout the property.


One of the most common causes of fires, negligence here refers to not being careful and responsible when it comes to fire safety.

Leaving electrical appliances, such as computers, tools, and other equipment on overnight can cause a serious fire, especially if they are faulty and no care has been taken for proper ventilation.

Poor fire training

Properly training the employees and staff members is extremely important in the prevention of workplace fires.

If the proper fire safety measures have not been communicated to them, they might not know how to deal with a fire in case one breaks out, putting themselves and others around them in danger.


While this list of potential causes of industrial fires might intimidate you, don’t worry because it is possible, and incredibly easy, to prevent them and minimise their risk by following a few safety measures.

Here are a few easy ways to prevent industrial fires:

Conduct a risk assessment

As a responsible person in an industrial building, whether you are the owner, employer, landlord, or occupier, you must carry out a detailed fire risk assessment to identify all the potential fire hazards in your workplace.

Once all the fire hazards have been identified, you are to identify the people at risk and evaluate, remove, and reduce the risks.

The findings must all be recorded and an emergency plan must be prepared to provide the relevant fire safety training. The fire risk assessment must also be reviewed and updated regularly to make sure all changes and additions to the property are accounted for.

Establish fire prevention and emergency procedures

You must make sure that you have the right policies and procedures that cover all aspects of fire prevention including smoking, protective equipment, and evacuation plans.

The plan must communicate a few very important things to everyone on the premises including a clear passageway to all emergency exits and escape routes. In addition to that, these routes must be clearly marked and must be as short as possible. You may use emergency lighting where needed.

Special arrangements must be made for individuals with mobility needs, for example, the emergency routes and exits must also be wheelchair accessible.

Provide fire safety training

This is an incredibly important part of fire safety on your property since the better trained and equipped the staff is, the better you can protect them and all the others from such safety threats.

Employees must be provided with both general as well as job-specific training when it comes to fire safety, especially for people working in potentially dangerous environments.

New staff must be trained as soon as they start working and all the employees must be told about any new fire risks.

At least one fire drill must be carried out every year and the results must be recorded. These results must be kept as part of the fire safety and evacuation plan.

Implement good housekeeping

With heavy machinery and equipment running all the time and flammable materials being kept on the premises, it becomes very important to implement good housekeeping practices to minimise the risk of accidents.

From sparks in machines to combustible dust being a serious fire hazard, you can significantly reduce the chances of these little things being huge disasters by keeping them maintained and cleaning up the area regularly.

Installing and maintaining industrial fire alarm systems

Fire detection systems, such as fire and smoke alarms, are an extremely important part of fire safety, where different types of detectors are used to give early warning signs of a potential fire.

The type of equipment you may require depends on your business premises and you will have to get it properly installed, inspected, and maintained, and train your staff to use it when necessary.

Regular checks must be carried out to make sure that all the systems are working properly, and all faults must be recorded.


Industrial fire alarm systems are an integral part of fire safety and are designed to detect fires during their early development.

Early detection plays a vital role in preventing injuries, loss of life, and property damage since it gives adequate time to evacuate the people on the premises and take the necessary measures to stop the fire from spreading any further.

It also helps minimise property damage and downtime since efforts to contain and extinguish the fire can be started while the fire is still small.

The fire alarm systems work using various sensors that come paired with loud, audible alarms that alert the occupants of the threat.

In some cases, the alarms are also transmitted to a staffed monitoring station, which then dispatches the fire and rescue services to the property and, in some instances, also helps with the evacuation process through video cameras and two-way communication.


Detectors and sensors are at the core of a fire alarm system since they are what catch the earliest signs of a fire and send an alert to the control panel to sound an alarm.

From sophisticated smoke alarms to manual glass-break units, there are several different types of fire alarm detectors that can be divided into the following groups:

Heat detectors

Heat detectors, as the name suggests, detect the level of the heat in the environment and can work either on a fixed temperature basis, where an alarm will be triggered if the temperature exceeds a certain value, or on the temperature’s rate of change.

They usually work similarly to an electric fuse, where a heat-sensitive eutectic alloy turns from a solid to a liquid when a certain temperature is reached and triggers an alarm.

Smoke detectors

Smoke detectors detect the presence of smoke in an area and they come in three basic types: ionisation, light scattering, and light obscuring.

Ionisation smoke detectors generally contain two chambers, out of which one is used as a reference for changes in temperature, humidity, or pressure, and the other one contains a radioactive source that ionises the air passing through it where the current flows between two electrodes.

When smoke enters the second chamber, the current flow decreases as a result and it triggers the alarm.

Light scattering smoke detectors have a photocell and a light source separated from each other by a dark chamber so that the light does not fall on the photocell.

The presence of smoke in the chamber causes the light from the source to be scattered and fall on the photocell, which in turn triggers an alarm.

Lastly, light obscuring smoke detectors initiate an alarm when smoke interferes with a light beam falling on the photocell from a light source.

The photocell measures the amount of light that it receives and triggers an alarm based on the variation in the photocell output.

Carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors, also called CO detectors, are used to detect the outbreak of a fire by detecting the presence of carbon monoxide in the air.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, colourless, and odourless gas that is produced by combustion and can cause severe health issues, and even death, if inhaled in huge amounts.

Multi-sensor detectors

Multi-sensor detectors combine the inputs from various sensors and then process both of them using a sophisticated algorithm.

After being assessed by the control panel, the detector returns a value based on the combined response of all the sensors. These systems are designed to be sensitive to a wide range of fire-related inputs.

Manual call points

Manual call points, also called break glass call points, are devices that need to be triggered by a person initiating the alarm. They can be placed in multiple locations on the premises and are incredibly easy to access.


Fire alarm systems can be broken down into two main types:

Conventional fire alarm systems

Conventional fire alarm systems refer to setups where several call points and detectors are connected to each other using physical cabling and the signals from the detectors are wired back to the main control panel.

To simplify locating the cause and source of the alarm, the call points and detectors are arranged in zones, which are indicated on the control panel either with an LED indicator light, a text display, or both in some cases.

These zones make it easier for the general building management and the fire and rescue services to locate the source of the threat in the shortest time possible.

Addressable fire alarm systems

Addressable fire alarm systems work on the same detection principle as conventional systems except that, instead of being divided into zones, each detector is given a set address, allowing the control panel to determine exactly which detector has triggered the alarm.

The detection circuit in this system is wired as a loop, with up to 99 devices being connected to each loop.


Commercial and industrial fire alarm systems are divided into two main categories – protection of life and property – based on the objective that they work to fulfil.

Categories L (life) and M (manual) are designed to protect life whereas category P (property) is best suited for those looking to protect property. It is extremely common to install an industrial fire alarm system that incorporates a mixture of these categories.

Life protection

Fire alarm systems focused on life protection will often depend on the number of people accessing the building in question and, depending on various factors, can range from type L1 to simple M categories.

Category L systems are fire detection systems that aim to protect the lives of people on the premises and are divided into five levels, level L1 to L5, with each offering a different level of protection.

Category L1 fire alarm systems provide the highest level of protection and the earliest possible warning since they recommend installing both manual call points as well as automatic fire detection systems throughout the premises.

Category M fire alarm systems require manual call points to be installed on all key areas of the property and they rely on the building’s occupants to discover the fire and activate the alarm system.

Property protection

Fire alarm systems focused on property protection provide the earliest warning of a fire in order to reduce the time it takes to extinguish the fire and minimise loss of property.

These types of systems are made purely for the protection of property and can be divided into two categories: category P1 and P2.

A category P1 system requires the detectors and alarms to be placed in all areas of the building and is designed to protect the entire premises.

A category P2 system, on the other hand, provides fire detection in certain parts of the building that are more high risk and where the contents are particularly valuable.


For an accurate quotation, it is always best to get in touch with a professional installer. However, to give you a general idea, you can expect to pay anywhere from £50 for a single battery alarm to over £5000 for a fully integrated system.

How much your system will cost depends on several factors such as:


Our experts at Calder Electrical have been working in the industry for over 40 years and can provide you with a comprehensive solution for your fire safety needs which includes professional installation and servicing.

We can survey your industrial property and determine the best kind of system suitable for your needs, and one that complies with the current standards and regulations.

We also offer after-sales care and an ongoing maintenance package after the installation to ensure your fire alarm works in optimal condition providing you with a system that you can depend on.

We have a vast understanding of the regulations in force and can provide you with a high level of service to keep your system healthy and working all the time.

Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 3001 to speak with our team of experts right away!

Photo by George Kedenburg III on Unsplash