With over 30 years of experience in fire and security solutions, we at KBO are passionate about raising awareness as to why it is so important to maintain your existing fire alarm. We are also committed to promoting a greater understanding as to the consequences if fire alarm maintenance is not carried out regularly. Most homeowners and tenants may only check their fire alarm sporadically, and only replace it on an ad hoc basis. The recent Wentworth fires in Surrey saw hundreds of homes evacuated as a massive wildfire broke out across almost 100 acres of woodland and residential areas smoke rises up towards a second floor in a two two storey house . Upstairs we can see a parent carrying a small child and running from a bedroom as they have been woken by the smoke alarm which is shown in focus at the edge of the ceiling leading to the stairwell . A blaze of this kind can spread quickly, with some witnesses describing a ‘wall of flames’, with smoke visible as far away as London. Although the emergency services were on hand to evacuate the 60 homes affected, having a fire alarm to warn residents of a sudden fire is imperative to safety. Without this early warning sign, a large sudden fire of this kind could cut off emergency exit routes and leave residents trapped in their homes, which is why fire alarm maintenance is so vital. Whilst this kind of fire is unusual and extreme, it just goes to show that sudden fires can take hold of an area quickly, without any warning, and highlight the importance of having a working fire alarm.
But how often should fire alarms be tested, and what could happen if fire alarms are not checked regularly? At KBO, our team of experts are always on hand to answer all your fire alarm related questions in order to help keep you and your family safe at home.
How do fire alarms work?
Although a significant blaze such as the recent Wentworth fires could be seen for miles around, your home fire alarm would have detected it long before the human eye. This is because fire alarms are triggered by the first warning sign of a fire – smoke. A huge cloud of smoke and ash is easy to spot, however, the initial smoke from a fire can often go undetected, especially during the night when residents are most likely asleep. Once the fire alarm detects the smoke, it will set off the alarm immediately, alerting anyone in the property that it is time to evacuate the premises without delay.
How often should fire alarms be tested?
We at KBO would recommend testing an existing fire alarm at home every month. It is quick and easy to do and could mean the difference between life and death in the event of a fire. In order to test the existing smoke alarm, press the alarm button until it sounds. If this does not trigger the alarm, it is time for the battery to be replaced. This should be done as a matter of course once a year, as most fire alarm batteries will only work optimally for this length of time. Fire alarm maintenance should be a routine part of taking care of your home, and it is recommended that the entire fire alarm itself should be replaced once every ten years.
How to avoid the dangers of not maintaining an existing fire alarm
Not having a working fire alarm is a silent danger waiting in your home. You may not give it much thought, but without the warning a fire alarm provides, the outcome of any fire could be much more serious, and potentially life-threatening. The dangers associated with fire itself are self-explanatory, but the danger posed by smoke from a blaze can often be underestimated. Sadly, the cause of death in many domestic fires is not the flames or heat, but smoke inhalation. This is because the thick black smoke creates a lack of oxygen and this deprivation of oxygen can lead to instant confusion, disorientation and even cause fainting. Once passed out from the effects of the toxic smoke, residents are unable to leave the property or escape from the fire. Although it can be a frightening prospect to consider, this is why it is all the more important to have a working existing fire alarm in order to protect yourself and whoever lives with you in the property.