How to choose the right fire alarm for your building site
Fire continues to be one of the most dangerous threats to life on a construction site. Managing and limiting the risks, given the number of people and variables found on temporary sites, is a big undertaking.
However, site managers and responsible persons must take necessary fire safety measures to keep a site fire safety compliant and functional.
Different construction sites have different levels and types of requirements. Larger construction sites will need a wider cover and a more varied approach compared to smaller sites. Fire alarms are key to any construction site’s fire safety management but how do you know which one is best for you? Find out more below.
Why is fire alarm choice important?
The end goal of specifying a fire alarm system for a construction site is simple: to get everyone to safety in the event of a fire in the quickest and most efficient manner. The difficulty comes from a construction site not having a fire alarm system built into its management system in the same way a completed building does.
Construction sites are always changing. New floors, walls, plastering and the rolling progress of sites make it difficult to use a wired system as there’s usually a need to reposition wires and call points on all but the smallest projects.
For the above reasons, fire alarm systems intended specifically for the construction industry will always be your best choice as they are designed to be durable, efficient and construction-site ready.
What types of fire alarm systems are available?
A great alternative to a full fire alarm system, which in many locations and situations such as construction sites are impractical due to power supply constraints, the Howler Alarm systems are fully self-contained. Most devices are even completely battery-operated. There is also an option to link different styles of fire alarm systems including stand-alone, hard-wired and wireless or radio-linked.
Standalone vs Interlinking Fire Alarms
The fire alarm system you choose depends on how temporary your site is and the nature of work taking place. Standalone and interlinking fire alarm systems are available in wireless and hard-wired options and the choice will depend on the changing nature of the construction site and the number of fire alarms you require.
For a standalone option, the trusty range of Howler HO alarms remains a firm favourite and has a meaty battery and an unmistakable siren (102dB(A) at 1m). Standalone fire alarms are ideal for smaller construction sites or isolated site offices/work areas.
If you have a larger site, you should invest in an interlinked alarm system. An interlinked system ensures that if one alarm sounds on site then all alarms will sound to alert the whole site. Interlinked systems may be connected by cable or wirelessly linked by radio and should be simple to set up and use.
Howler UK’s GoLink fire alarm system is a radio-linked fire warning system that has an easy-to-use control panel at its heart. It can link up to 127 stations and ensure that everything works together to create a comprehensive alarm system for your site.
Lights and Strobes
Lights and strobes provide important visual alerts that something is wrong, sending the emergency message effectively to people and individuals that have a hearing impairment.
Typically, most fire alarm systems are audible throughout an entire facility, where ambient noise levels are at average levels. On a construction site, where employers and building owners are aware of a hearing-impaired employee or resident, they must provide visual alerts too.
Depending on the type of site, it may be advisable to install strobes and lights anyway. Noisy construction work or crowds of people can make audio hard to gauge and less effective.
Workspaces where loud work is undertaken, or zones that need to be kept quiet, are both areas where beacon alarms such as Howler UK’s Visua-Link come into their own. It is a discrete unit that can be mounted anywhere and is ideal for situations where a flashing warning is required in addition to the main fire alarms.
Rotary Alarm Bells and Air Horns
On very small sites, air horns or rotary alarm bells can be considered. Both can be used to raise the alarm manually and neither needs a battery.
They aren’t suitable for sites where the sound level is not sufficient to be audible throughout the project. Also, the alarm is dependent on an individual operating the alarm, at a risk to their own safety.
Setting up the GoLink system has no requirement for specialist gear or high-tech laptops. Stations connect automatically with the Control Panel once they have been addressed and the panel constantly monitors connections between stations and gives you a warning if any station becomes disconnected, or if batteries become low.
There is also a GoLink option with a first-aid assistance alarm. On activation, the unit sends a radio signal to the control panel providing an 'Assistance Needed' message and the number of the unit that has been activated. First aiders can be quickly directed to the casualty and, if required, the whole site can be put on alert.
Depending on the size of your construction site, the Site Alert is also a great fire safety solution. The standard Site Alert units are designed specifically for smaller sites and smaller budgets. Up to 20 units can be linked together using 2-core cable and have a volume of 100dB at 1 metre.
The smarter Site Alert RF is the solution for smaller sites where a wireless solution is required. Designed to be used in internal and protected external locations, this clever system runs entirely on off-the-shelf alkaline batteries and has simple but effective fault and battery-level monitoring features usually confined to larger and more expensive alarm systems.
Howler will specify the right fire alarm for you.
Howler UK’s fire alarm products are designed to withstand the rigours and tests of the construction site and their easy-to-use, simple to set up features are a key advantage.