Kidde Safety’s Firex range of smoke and heat alarms offers opportunities to improve fire safety during refurbishments at lower costs.
Hard-wired, interconnected smoke and heat alarms, with reliable power back-up should now be the norm for all housing, whether existing or new-build. This is spelled out in the Code of Practice BS 5839-6:2013, which takes the form of guidance and recommendations. Although not in itself mandatory, it does form the basis for Building Regulations and is used as a benchmark in housing standards (including HHSRS), specifications, legal, insurance or other situations.
While BS 5839-6 is based on a risk assessment approach, it recognises that in most cases guidance tabulated in the Code can be applied as a minimum standard. It lists the minimum Categories (locations for alarms) and Grades (power sources) recommended for different types of housing. Typically, for houses up to 3 storey and individual flats, the Code recommends Category LD2. This means smoke alarms in all escape routes and any areas where fires might start, such as living rooms, plus heat alarms in all kitchens.
The Code also recommends Grade D hard-wired, interconnected smoke and heat alarms with back-up power. This is demanded by Building Regulations for new housing and changes of use, where battery-only smoke alarms are not permitted. But Grade D is also important for existing buildings. In another important change, the 2013 edition of the Code now excludes Grade F battery-only systems from all rented homes.
The resulting growth of hard-wired systems has developed interest in energy saving products. In response, Firex smoke and heat alarms offer a much lower, maximum mains consumption, with substantial energy savings over previous models and significantly lower running costs. Other features include an Alarm Memory Function, identifying which alarm has triggered, as well as dust compensation and bug screens on all optical alarms to minimise nuisance alarms and call-backs. Accessories include a wired, remote ‘Test and Hush’ switch, and a relay pattress to operate other devices.
An important Firex innovation is the introduction of long-life lithium battery back-up options for all three sensing technologies (ionization, optical and heat), alongside the usual loose battery and integral rechargeable battery versions. This innovation ensures reliable back-up throughout the whole alarm life, without the need to change batteries, at a much lower price than rechargeable products.
Firex alarms can also interconnect with Kidde’s 4MCO and 4MDCO hard-wired carbon monoxide alarms, as well as with each other, using the unique ‘Smart Interconnect’ feature. Here, the alarms have different, distinct alarm sounder patterns for carbon monoxide and fire – an essential facility, supported by different display messages on the 4MDCO model. So, without the need for any further operation of the system (such as remote switches), Smart Interconnect automatically alerts occupants throughout the property of the specific hazard that confronts them. It allows them to respond quickly, making the right choice from the very different actions for either fire or carbon monoxide.