Smoke and fire detection equipment is an integral part of any building’s safety. When working properly, they alert the occupants in a building of a fire before it spreads, giving them enough time to evacuate. This type of equipment comes in many forms: heat detectors, smoke detectors, flame detectors, and CO gas detectors.

Here is an overview of the different types of fire detection equipment.

Heat Detectors

Unlike other types of alarm systems, heat detectors are not early warning devices. These devices are typically found in spots with fixed temperature, including heater closets, small rooms, and kitchen facilities. They should not be installed in areas with fluctuating ambient temperature. This is because the alarm on heat detectors is set to go off if there is a rise in the temperature.

Flame Detectors

Like their name suggests, these detectors are used to detect flames. When working properly, they detect fire nearly at the point of ignition. They are very useful for buildings involving with hazardous processes, as well as gas and oil refineries and manufacturing industries.

There are three subcategories of flame detectors: optical, UV, and IR.

  • Optical detectors: The most commonly used, these feature optical sensors for detecting flames.
  • UV detectors: These work very quickly. They can detect open flames, explosions, and fires within four milliseconds, due to the UV radiation emitted at the instant of ignition. However, to prevent accidental triggers, some UV detectors are designed to integrate a three second time delay.
  • IR detectors:Infrared detectors monitor the head radiation that is generated by open flames and fire. They have a response time of three to five seconds. Accidental triggers can be caused by nearby hot surfaces and background thermal radiation. False alarms can be decreased with the use of special programming algorithms, which are designed to recognize the frequency of flame flickering.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke alarms are designed to detect fires quickly. Like flame detectors, this fire detection equipment is divided into three subcategories.

  • Photoelectric alarms:These operate with the use of a light source, photoelectric sensor, and beam collimating system. When smoke begins to enter the optical chamber, it crosses the light beam path. This results in light being scattered by the particles in the smoke. The scattered light is then directed to the sensor, after which the alarm is activated and sounded.
  • Ionization alarms:A small amount of radioactive material, which passes through the ionization chamber, is contained inside of these alarms. There are two electrodes inside the chamber, with empty space in between. The radiation permits a small current between the two electrodes. If smoke enters the chamber, it absorbs the alpha particles, which results in an interrupted current and ionization reduction. When this occurs, the alarm is set off.
  • Combination alarms:These have the features of both ionization and photoelectric alarm technologies. The photoelectric function responds to low energy smoldering fires, and the ionization function responds to rapid, high-energy fires.

If you’re unsure which type of fire detection equipment to get, have a professional come in to assess your building to determine your requirements. Regardless of which alarm/detection device selected, you should have them professionally installed, and follow all instructions for testing and maintenance.