As it’s the case with the rest of your fire safety equipment, fire alarms need to be installed in the correct way. Business owners are required by law to comply with the regulations and by doing this they also ensure that everyone within their building is safe.

When it comes to fire alarms, there are 8 different categories as outlined in the British standard for fire alarm installations. And each category has its three different systems – manual, life protection and property protection.

After a risk assessment, you should know which type of fire alarm is appropriate for your own building.

Usually, when specialists determine the correct type of fire alarm, they take into account some elements such as:

  • What kind of work is performed on the premises;
  • The level of risk associated with it;
  • The type of premises you and your staff are working on;
  • The contents of your business;

What are the main types of fire alarm systems?

The type of fire alarm system suitable for your premises will be determined after performing a risk assessment. In general, fire alarm systems can be distinguished by their type.

Conventional Fire Alarm

They are most commonly used in small or low-risk areas. During a fire emergency, the fire alarm panel will identify the whole zone affected, but not necessarily the exact area.

Addressable Fire Alarm

It is most commonly used with buildings that are large and have a higher level of risk – places such as school, hospitals, museums. When it is activated, due to its unique electronic address, the panel will let you know the exact area that has been affected. 

Wireless Fire Alarm

It is most commonly used with the buildings where wiring needs to be kept to a minimum – places such as hospitals, churches, building sites. This type of alarms uses a secure wireless link between the sense and the main panel so like with the addressable fire alarms, in case of an emergency, it will show which exact area is affected by fire.

What are the main fire alarms grades?

Fire alarms get more complex than that. There are also specific grades or categories for each of the types we mentioned earlier.

The grades part refers to how your fire alarms system is constructed and the categories part represents the area of your building that the fire alarm covers.


When it comes to grades, fire alarms will be marked from A to F. Usually, for residential buildings, the fire alarms used within them can pass the fire alarm regulations with a lower grade alarm (D-F). For businesses, a higher grade is required (A-C) in order to comply with the UK fire legislation.

Unlike the fire alarms for residential buildings, the ones for businesses are directly wired into the central fire alarm panel.

While they are connected to the main power supply they also come equipped with a back-up power supply.

Fire Alarm Categories

Fire Alarm systems have 2 main categories:

  • Category ‘P’ systems – protection for property
  • Category ‘L’ systems – protection for life

Manual fire alarm systems

At the most basic level, the manual fire alarm systems act more as a warning and are designed to be activated by the employees or occupants to activate them when a fire occurs.

This will alert everyone else in the building about the fire danger. One of the most common ones is the fire alarm that comes with the break glass option. They are installed near an exit point in the buildings. 

Category L / Automatic fire alarm systems (for the protection of life)

There are also fire alarm systems that fall under the L category and the differences are that they are more suitable for protection life whenever a fire emergency occurs.

Within this range, you have an additional of 5 sub-categories and they are based on their level of protection.

  • Category L1 – Maximum life protection
  • Category L2 – Additional life protection
  • Category L3 – Standard life protection
  • Category L4 – Modest life protection
  • Category L5 – Localised life protection

Category P / Automatic fire alarm systems for the protection of property

The P category includes the fire alarm systems that have been built for property protection.

Under this category, there are only two other sub-categories:

Category P1

Category P2