A recent study commissioned by the British Sprinkler Alliance (BSA) and conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) revealed that, much to the detriment of the UK economy, £1 billion and 5,000 jobs were lost due to warehouse fires in Britain over a five year period. In terms of your own business, government statistics suggest that the chances of continuing to trade after a such an event are slim, with around 75% of businesses which have suffered a warehouse fire ceasing operation either immediately afterwards or within three years.
Why you need a Monitored Fire Alarm System
The case for installing fire alarms, therefore, couldn't be more clear-cut. Which fire alarm system you choose, however, depends on a number of factors such as the nature of the premises in question, how they are used, and any budget restrictions. One option to consider is whether to use standard or monitored fire alarms.
A monitored fire alarm system will typically necessitate a greater initial financial outlay. However, if planned and installed correctly, this will be overwhelmingly offset by the long-term benefits. It can also lead to a reduction in insurance costs.
When deciding on what type of fire alarms to install, it is also worth considering the probable lifespan of your system. Monitored fire alarms tend to utilize more advanced technology than their standard counterparts, and as such are less likely to require updating due to advances in other areas of warehouse fire safety and security technology.
Furthermore, a standard fire alarm will always require an immediate in-situ human response. In addition to the clear risk of injury or even death that this poses, it can also result in unnecessary staffing costs.
While not as economical in the short term as standard fire alarms, on-site monitoring systems present very low operational costs. A simple paging system, which can include a third-party element for additional efficiency, alerts the designated holder of the paging device.
Ideally, the holder will have undergone suitable training in order to prepare them for the responsibility which this role entails. Once alerted to a possible fire by the on-site monitored fire alarm via the pager device, the holder is required to notify the fire services as a matter of urgency. Multiple paging devices can also be used, for example to notify the warehouse owner or manager, or as a 'back-up' in the event that the primary pager holder is not in attendance or has been incapacitated in some way.
Some on-site monitored fire alarm systems are equipped with 'cloud' connectivity features which can be used to notify additional individuals of fire alerts via their smartphone devices. This adds a degree of off-site functionality; however it still relies on the user of that smartphone to notice the notification email and take action, this person may be busy or asleep if it’s in the middle of the night.
An off-site fire alarm monitoring system will involve higher ongoing costs, however in our opinion this is significantly outweighed by the potential benefits. Unlike on-site monitored systems which rely on the constant vigilance of warehouse staff and other company employees or property owners, off-site monitoring systems outsource responsibility to a third party.
In this system, a network of interconnected fire alarms are connected with a specialised control centre which is staffed on a 24 house basis. Given that fires are particularly common when the premises in question are not being used (accounting for as much as 67% of all major fires), this constant monitoring is particularly advantageous.
Once alerted to a possible fire situation at you premises by your off-site monitored warehouse fire alarm system, staff at the control centre will notify both the fire and emergency services and the building's designated keyholder or keyholders. Increasingly, off-site monitored fire alarms are also capable of notifying the emergency services directly using an automated digital system.
One off-site monitored fire alarm system we recommend is the popular Classic Fire from BT Redcare. The Redcare Classic Fire alarm system utilises your warehouse's existing BT phone line to alert a central Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) almost instantly
Lines are monitored continuously, and the network unavailability rate is a mere 0.003%. There are no additional line rental or call charges, and because the Redcare Classic Fire exceeds both British and European standards, installation is likely to result in a reduction in insurance premiums.
False alarms can be reduced by using CCTV cameras to assist the operator in verifying the validity of a fire alarm signal before making the call to the fire brigade and keyholders, provided that this is done under the guidance of a qualified fire prevention professional. In practice, it is essential to fully confirm that the site is safe whenever any fire alarm equipment is activated.
If you are unsure about whether to choose a standard or monitored fire alarm system for your warehouse, or if you would like more advice about which type of monitored system would be more suitable, one of our team of qualified assessors would be very pleased to visit your premises in order to run through all the relevant considerations with you.
Contact Fire & Security specialise in supplying and installing fire alarm systems in warehouse settings of all types, so we're confident that we can identify and implement the most appropriate solution for you. To arrange for an assessment at your premises, simply call us on 01865 989 482, email at email@example.com, or contact us via the online chat request form.