Home Improvements

The Different Types of Fire Alarm Systems in British Columbia

Fire alarm systems, if used properly, can protect valuable tangible assets and save lives. Different kinds of buildings have different needs for these systems. In residential properties, they are normally simple smoke detectors. Larger buildings and commercial properties often have hard-wired alarm systems attached to an alarm panel along with physical fire alarm boxes. These alarm boxes are manually operated. The 3 main kinds of alarm systems used for fire protection in British Columbia are thermal, photoelectric and ionization alarms.

Thermal Alarms

These fire alarms detect heat in a room and they work via a sensor. The sensor will have a specific level of conductivity at room temperature. When there is an increase in heat and the sensor is heated, its conductivity changes. This change in conductivity will activate the alarm, which will go off, notifying the building occupants of a fire threat.

Ionization Alarms

Smoke detectors are the easiest kind of fire alarm systems and they are also the most frequently used. Ionization alarms do not sense the fire itself, but just particles in smoke from the fire. This method of fire protection in British Columbia is highly effective because of the fact that smoke happens in the initial stages of a fire. The ionization alarm utilizes a small radioactive material and depends on a partial circuit via the material. When the radioactive material gets into contact with smoke, conductive ions are created. The ions then complete the circuit, which allows electricity to get to the fire alarm. The alarm will then sound, which notifies the building or room occupants of a fire.

Photoelectric Alarms

These fire alarm systems are a little more complicated than the ionization systems. They depend on visible particles that are created by flames. These alarm systems are battery powered and they work via a small chamber which monitors the concentration of solid particles. When there are enough particles in the chamber to reflect as well as block waves that are transmitted to a receiver, the receiver sets off the switch. The switch routes electricity to the alarm, which will notify the room or building inhabitants of a fire.


Manual fire alarms have to be pulled by a person. These alarms are found mounted to walls in larger buildings, and are wired to the alarm system of the whole building. If somebody in the building spots a fire or large smoke amounts, they just have to pull the manual handle to set the alarm off. Some manual systems discharge a staining liquid whenever pulled, which allows authorities to know the culprit in case the alarm is pulled by a prankster.

There are different types of fire alarm systems to choose for residential and commercial properties. The important thing is to choose a system that is most suitable for your needs. If you are not sure of the best alarm system for your needs, ask for guidance from companies that specialize in fire protection in British Columbia. There are many of these companies out there, so choose carefully. Choose a company that has been in the fire protection business for several years.


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