Smoke detectors save lives, it’s as simple as that. If there is a fire in your home or place of work, these fantastic little inventions warn you as soon as the smoke begins to rise, so you can evacuate quickly and safely before the fire spreads.
In October 2022, new regulations were introduced regarding the installation and maintenance of smoke detectors. Called the ‘Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022’, they outline where landlords and business owners need to have smoke alarms, and how they need to be maintained.
What are Smoke Detectors?
Like the majority of fire safety equipment and signage, most smoke detectors blend into the background of our daily lives until the day we need them or when it’s time to swap out their batteries.
In residential properties, at least one smoke detector should be installed on every level of the building, and inside each bedroom and kitchen area. The ones in hallways and corridors should be as central as possible to be the most effective at detecting smoke.
What are the Different Types of Smoke Detector?
There are 4 main types of smoke detectors in the UK. They do the same job but work in different ways and work best in certain locations.
Ionisation Smoke Alarms
The cheapest type of smoke detector to purchase and install; Ionisation Alarms are very popular. They are sensitive to small particles of smoke from fast-flaming fires (mostly wood and paper) so will detect the fire before the smoke becomes too thick.
Their sensitivity means they aren’t ideal for kitchens, as something as harmless as a toaster could set them off. They can also be set off by some candles, which is why lit ones should always be kept close to windows.
Optical Smoke Alarms
This type of smoke detector is better at detecting the larger smoke particles created by slow-burning fires (such as upholstery and overheated wiring) but are only slightly less sensitive to fast-burning fires than Ionisation Alarms. They are generally more expensive, but are proven to be more effective, and can be used in and around kitchens.
As the name suggests, Heat Alarms detect heat, not smoke. This makes them ideal for kitchens, but only cover a small area, so multiple are needed in large rooms. They are also recommended for garages and workshops.
These smoke detectors are combinations of two other types, most commonly Heat and Optical. This means they can detect smoke and heat, reducing the number of false alarms while still detecting fires early.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Although not a type of smoke alarm, Carbon Monoxide Detectors serve a similar purpose. Most modern smoke alarms also detect carbon monoxide and have two different sounds to alert you of the potential danger. If your smoke alarms don’t also detect carbon monoxide, and you don’t have a separate carbon monoxide detector, you need to get one installed as soon as possible.
How do Smoke Detectors Work?
All smoke alarms are powered either by the mains, batteries, or both (using one source of power as a backup). Most battery-powered alarms need to have their batteries changed every 12 months. Keep a note of when the batteries were last changed so you know when it’s time to change them again.
The science behind most smoke detectors is simple. Battery powered lights point outwards, if particles of smoke block those lights, the alarm goes off via a small electrical charge. This is why it’s very important to keep batteries fresh and test your smoke detectors regularly.
How often should I test my Smoke Detectors?
Ideally, residential smoke alarms should be tested once a week, or at least every month.
For commercial buildings, a professional evaluation every 6 months is recommended. Get in touch with KJ Fire Safety to arrange yours.
New UK Fire Safety Regulations
As of January 2023, new regulations are in place for landlords and business owners whose premises are mid and high-rise buildings. We created an in-depth explanation of these regulations if you want to find out more about what these guidelines are, and what you need to do to adhere to them.
‘At least one smoke alarm should be installed on every storey which is used as living accommodation.
‘Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).
‘’Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty.
‘Landlords should follow the individual manufacturer’s instructions when installing the alarms. However, in general, smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space, i.e., a hall or a landing.’
The regulations don’t specify where smoke alarms should be located, but this is still important. If after reading this you are unsure of where to install your smoke detectors, or need help with the installation, get in touch with KJ Fire Safety for help and guidance.
More Information about Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors
At KJ Fire Safety, our job is to help landlords and business owners make their premises as safe as possible. We provide information and advice that guides you through installation and maintenance of smoke detectors, and even provide comprehensive training courses to teach you and your team about everything fire safety.
If you need to make changes to conform to the new Fire Safety Regulations, get in touch with us to get started. We are experts in Fire Risk Assessments, inspections, and security, and we look forward to hearing from you.