Choosing The Right Fire Alarm System

June 24, 2013 By In Fire Alarms Comments Off on Choosing The Right Fire Alarm System

Fire alarms provide a vital and life-saving service. It can be a big decision choosing the right one for your building. What is the most cost effective option? Which system will give the best performance over time? Which system will suit the premises best? These are just some of the questions that you might come across. In this post we’re going to outline the three main types of fire alarm system currently available, and each of their benefits.


As the name suggests, conventional fire alarm systems are a common system that has been in use for a number of years.  Originally these were ‘4-wire’ systems – with separate circuits for bells and detectors; but conventional fire alarms now often come as ‘2-wire’ systems – where the sounders and detectors share the same cables.  Conventional fire alarm systems are good for:

  • Smaller spaces. These wired systems are great for small schools, restaurants and shops.

  • Simpler spaces. The fire panel highlights a general zone where a sensor has been activated. This could be an issue if the zone is a more complicated space and you can’t tell where the fire is coming from, but in a smaller area it will be easier to target.

  • Low cost. Conventional fire alarms prove to be very cost effective for smaller premises.

  • Reliability. Despite being a more basic choice, these systems are highly reliable.

Intelligent / Addressable

Intelligent/Addressable fire alarm systems are computerised and therefore more sophisticated than conventional systems. Some of the benefits of these alarm systems include:

  • Cost effective. Until recently, intelligent systems were used only in larger buildings due to higher cost. With technological developments it is now also cost effective to install an intelligent fire alarm system in smaller premises.

  • Single point detection. The control panel shows a more specific fire location as each device reports individually to the panel. This can speed up fire response times, reducing the probability of fire damage.

  • Simpler maintenance.  The system can record the history of each detection point. This means that it is easier to maintain and repair because the control panel can tell a technician exactly what needs repairing.  The individual detectors can also calibrate themselves to account for gradual contamination, which helps eliminate false alarms.

  • Flexible. Intelligent fire alarm systems can be programmed to suit the specific requirements of each location, and are easy to alter or expand as the building use changes over time.


These fire alarm systems are increasingly popular. They require no wires and thus can be a more discreet option. At Argos Fire Protection, we provide Detectomat, EMS and Hyfire radio fire alarm systems. These systems can be purely radio, or hybrid which is a mix of radio and wired. Here are some of the notable features of radio fire alarms:

  • Reliability. Despite some issues in the early days, these systems are totally reliable; they run on their own frequency so aren’t interrupted by other devices.

  • Older buildings. Listed buildings, churches, and buildings with asbestos usually require radio fire alarms because they don’t use cables, which could be damaging to protected properties.

  • Increasingly cost effective. These systems are now not just an option for older buildings, as the reduced installation times and no cost of cabling means that the cost has been brought down.

  • Short installation. As this system is wire free, installation times are reduced, making it more convenient for business owners.  It also reduces the time that each area is out of use – which can also be a significant cost saving, especially in the hospitality industry.


A hybrid system merges the benefits of any of the above systems. We recently installed a radio fire alarm system in a historic building in Devon. The customer originally planned for a complete radio system, but some rooms could be easily wired, so using a hybrid system brought the total cost down.

Further Help?

If you’re based in the Devon area, and are looking for fire alarm installation, maintenance, or just some more advice on which fire alarm to choose, then Argos Fire Protection can help! We cover all aspects of fire protection and have over 40 years experience. Get in touch here.

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