Construction sites can be a hotbed of potential fire outbreaks. Heavy machinery, power sources, personal tools and a large workforce can all contribute to an outbreak of fire: such is the nature of heavy industry.
Although practical difficulties can occur, we must do our best to mitigate fires and casualties that may result from onset of fire. Early detection is a way we can allay the spread of construction site fires and the collateral damage they can cause.
Construction site fire alarm systems are the absolute best, most efficient method of fire detection and prevention.
Look through our guide for advice on what we believe to be the best fire safety solutions for your construction site.
Types of Fire Alarm Systems
There are, of course, two main types of fire alarm system you could consider for your construction site: wired and wireless alarms. A brief overview of both follows:
- Wired Fire Alarm System: Connected to a main electrical outlet, a hardwired fire alarm system connects individual fire detection tools (smoke detectors, manual call points, heat detectors) to a main, central control panel. Though conventional alarm systems can still be used, addressable fire alarm systems are advisable as they give much more information regarding an outbreak of fire, such as an exact location of the danger and what device tripped the alarm. This type of fire alarm system requires a constant connection to power through the mains electricity supply.
- Wireless Fire Alarm System: A wireless system does everything a wired system does, except it is not at the mercy of being connected to mains electricity: meaning it can be relied upon when there is a power outage, or when the fire damages the electricity supply. Powered by industrial batteries, a wireless system will use frequencies to interconnect each fire detection tool to the main control panel.
Which Fire Alarm System is Best For Construction Sites?
When considering what type of fire detection system to use on your construction site, the practicalities of installation must be taken into account.
Article 13 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places an obligation on places of work to ensure that they have the necessary fire safety detection equipment needed to keep workers and other individuals safe from harm as a result of fire; therefore, it is highly important to choose the right fire alarm for the job.
Again, you must consider the practicalities of the construction site and how long it is estimated to be carrying out work.
As construction sites aren’t usually permanent annexes, we thoroughly recommend that you use a wireless fire alarm system for the premises and here are the 5 reasons why.
Continue reading to discover why a wireless fire detection system is best for you.
Practical Drawbacks of a Wired Fire Alarm Systems
A fundamental drawback of a hardwired fire detection system is the requirement of a constant connection to mains electricity. Think of the practical implications that would arise from choosing such a system for your construction site.
As a hardwired system requires mains electricity, the entire location of the construction site would require an intricate interconnected wiring system to be competently functional. Such a process would be costly and time-consuming: doubly so once building work is complete and you have to dismantle the system. Construction sites can also be very big locations, therefore the costs involved in the installation of systems and wires could be considerable.
Also, although more expensive and requiring a significant investment of time to implement in comparison to a wireless system, a wired fire alarm system is not foolproof or more reliable. As mentioned above, such a system requires a constant source of energy from the main electricity grid; should there be a power outage, or you have no legal access to the electrical grid, a wired fire alarm system is practically useless.
Practical Applications of a Wireless System
Wireless fire alarm systems – such as the popular Evacuator Synergy RF – completely remove the drawbacks of wired systems via the use of batteries for each key component of the system. Using unique radio frequencies, a wireless system interconnects each unique party to the base station, relaying any relevant information necessary in an incident of a fire outbreak.
The main benefit a wireless system can provide to you and your construction site, in comparison to a wired system, is that of simple practicalities. Choosing a wireless system saves you both time and money (particularly in the long-term) as they require no hardwiring to the premise, therefore there are no structural alterations or legal access to a mains grid required before installation, ensuring that your fire safety obligations are met much sooner.
Though they use batteries, each battery has an estimated lifespan said to last between approximately two to five years. Each component of the fire alarm system, and therefore battery, should be checked at least once every six months to ensure optimal performance and reliability.
Remember, construction sites are only temporary; therefore, with a wireless fire detection system, once you move on, you can move your system with you and use it on the next job with barely any inconvenience as it relates to cost, time and effort.
Practical Problems in Construction Wireless Alarms Solve
As you are aware, although you may have access to a particular site or plot, you don’t always have unrestricted access. In order to bypass any practical, operational or logistical headaches in the future, we will highlight numerous benefits of a wireless system that relate directly to your industry.
- “My business invested in a wired fire alarm system as it was cheaper, but we recently discovered that we don’t legally have any access to the main electrical grid. Any advice?”
Yes, although a wired system can appear more beneficial due to the costs involved, a number of hurdles can emerge later on down the line. One particular issue is that of construction companies having no access to the main electricity grid, meaning that a hardwired fire alarm system cannot be easily installed without the necessary due diligence, paperwork and administrative back-and-forth typically involved in such things. A wireless system can often mitigate such inconveniences.
- “I discovered that a part of the site can’t handle being drilled into in order to install the wires necessary for the wired system. It’ll take months for that part of the site to be adequately reinforced, what can I do?”
As a wireless system does not require any alterations to a site except to secure the necessary parts, a wireless system is highly advisable in such a scenario.
- “Okay. The wired system and all of the issues we’ve faced were too much. We went and decided that a wireless system was 100% the way to go. Our site will contain a lot of active tools and heavy machinery, as well as a lot of workers. We need a loud alarm to alert them in case of fire. What would you advise?”
The fully wireless Evacuator Synergy Zone Master is adequate in such an environment. Able to emit a 110db alarm, the Zone Master is the perfect fit for a construction project. Hardwearing, with an IP65-rated external housing unit, it is suited to heavy environments and is transportable to the next site once uninstalled.
Key Points to Consider and Takeaways in Favour of Wireless Fire Alarm Systems
When choosing what type of fire alarm system to employ on your construction site now and in future, here are a few points to consider:
- Financial Cost: Although initially more expensive, wireless systems will become far cheaper for you in the long term. Why? The logistics and costs of planning and installing a fully hardwired system within a temporary base of operations – as well as decommissioning the system once work is complete – add more expenses than the mere cost of the initial purchase of the system.
- Time: Again, the logistics of installing wires into the structure of a site, in order to implement a fully-fledged system, is highly time-consuming and may cause delays to your project. A wireless system will not require nearly as much planning or preparation work to implement and install.
- Practicalities: Should there be a power outage or temporary shutting down of power required, a mains-powered, wired fire alarm system is temporarily obsolete, therefore putting yourself and any on-site workers at risk. Many contingency plans and fail-safes are required to respond to a temporary loss of mains power. Wireless, on the other hand, only requires that all batteries are tested and maintained to ensure they are fully operational, provided the location is adequate for seamless wireless signal transmission.
Although there are a number of benefits that could be considered for a wired fire alarm system, the practicalities and temporary nature of construction sites means it is more efficient to invest in a wireless system to avoid administrative headaches, as well as save money in the long-term.
Need advice on selecting the right fire alarm system for the job? Have a chat with our expert team of wired and wireless fire alarm system specialists. As a valued customer of Evacuator Alarms, you get access to market-leading fire safety equipment and we help find out what alarm best suits your requirements.