Smoke Alarms versus Fire Alarms in HMOs

flatsDefined under BS 5839: Pt. 6 a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) is “a house that is occupied by persons who do not form a single household.” These are typically large houses that have been converted into flats or bedsits. Many of our customers ask what type of smoke alarm system is suitable for this type of property. According to the British Standard, the recommendations are as follows:

For one or two storey HMOs where the individual floor area is no more than 200sqm, a Grade D, category LD3 smoke alarm system should be installed.  Grade D refers to mains powered smoke and heat alarms with a built-in back up battery power supply, and the alarms can be interconnected either by wire or by radio signal. That means that fire alarm panels are not required. Ei Electronics and Kidde offer both RF and wired mains powered alarm systems as well as a range of accessories that can help you to test, locate and hush alarms easily.

Category LD3 (level of coverage) is the minimum requirement and defines where alarms should be installed. LD3 requires smoke alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes from the dwelling, i.e. hallways and landings. If justified during a fire risk assessment, the level of cover may be increased to LD2 which requires smoke or heat alarms to be installed in specified high fire risk rooms and areas. Dependent on the specifier, this can include living rooms, kitchens and possibly bedrooms.

For Grade D system it is becoming more and more acceptable (especially if retrofitted) to install radio-interlinked smoke and heat alarms with 10 year sealed batteries rather than mains powered smoke and heat alarms. This saves the cost for the electrician and systems like this can be installed very quickly. We still recommend that you ask for confirmation by building control or the relevant council department before installing these systems.

For HMOs of 3 storeys or higher, there are two options available.  The first is to have Grade A fire alarm system installed throughout the building.  Grade A consists of a conventional or addressable fire alarm panel, and then fire alarm detectors, call points, sounders and beacons are specified according to the layout and requirements of the property.  The second option is to have a mixed system.  This would comprise of  Grade D, category LD3 in the individual dwellings (see above) and a separate Grade A system in the communal areas.  Again, the category of cover in the individual dwellings can be upped to LD2 if needed.  Both of these options have pros and cons depending on the requirements and the owner’s access to each of the dwellings.  A mixed system appears to have become the preference, as it is likely to reduce the impact of nuisance alarms from individual flats on other occupants.

For additional guidance, please visit our Smoke Alarm Help and Information, BS 5839-6 and BS 5839-1 summary pages.

Why choose the Ei2110 multi-sensor smoke alarm?

Ei2110Unsure which smoke alarm to install? Worried about false alarms?  Then the Ei2110 multi-sensor alarm from Ei Electronics could be the solution you’re looking for!

The Ei2110 is one of the first domestic alarms to combine both optical smoke and heat sensing elements.  Working together to intelligently monitor any signs of fire, this dual sensing technology allows the Ei2110 multi-sensor alarm to identify different types of fire.  Originating from upholstery or over-heated wiring some fires slowly smoulder and produce thick smoke, whereas paper or clothing fires can be fast flaming, producing little smoke but a lot of heat.  This wider fire detection envelope means that the Ei2110 will provide the best response, earlier warning of fire and reduce the risk of false alarms.  Making the smoke alarm selection easier for the user, the Ei2110 multi-sensor has the flexibility to be used in any room except a kitchen.  For kitchen applications, please use the Ei164RC single sensor heat alarm.

Supplied with an “easi-fit” base as standard, the Ei2110 multi-sensor alarm is mains powered with a re-chargeable back-up battery power supply.  Don’t be put off with the need for an electrician!  The “easi-fit” base has been designed for easy installation, allowing the electrician to wire to the nearest lighting circuit.  Once fitted, the Ei2110 multi-sensor  head simply slides onto the base, ready for detection.  The Ei2110 is fitted with a built-in lithium battery back up that lasts the full 10 year life of the alarm.  This mains powered design with sealed lithium back-up battery not only saves on the cost and effort to replace batteries, but also stops alarm tampering and the battery being removed for use in other devices; a problem often faced by landlords with rented properties.  The Ei2110 multi-sensor alarm conforms to BS5839-6 Grade D, allowing the unit to also be specified for one or two storey houses of multiple occupancy (HMO).

To achieve the best possible coverage for detection, smoke alarms should be interlinked throughout the property.  As standard, multiple Ei2110 alarms can be linked using 3 core and earth cable available from the electrician.  The connection of alarms gives occupants the best possible warning of fire, saving valuable time in the event of an emergency.  If you’re concerned by the thought of lifting carpets, floorboards and running trunking, the Ei2110 is available with radioLINK capability.  The radio interlinked Ei2110 comprises of the multi-sensor alarm head and an Ei168RC radio frequency base.  To maintain its Grade D status, the radio interlinked Ei2110 remains mains powered, but the interconnection is achieved wireless through radio frequency signal.

For more help and guidance on domestic alarms and accessories from Ei Electronics, please visit our dedicated website packed full with useful information.

Business Continuity: Protecting business data against floods and fire

USB ConnectionThe recent floods in the south and south west of England have made businesses from all over the country re-assess their plans for business continuity. Bosses are considering what the vital elements of the business are and what needs to be preserved at all costs. Top of the list is usually preserving the IT and computer systems. Many organisations backup their systems offsite but there is still a need to ensure any onsite digital media and key documents are secured safely.

At Safelincs we are experiencing more customers who are asking for safes that are not only fireproof but will also resist water. We can offer them a range of safes that offer protection against both. Documents, CDs, DVDs and other valuables can be secured with fireproof safes that have UL certification and have passed water submersion testing to ensure their suitability. One particular range of waterproof and fireproof safes can protect hard drives which are still connected to the computer system. This is achieved with a USB connection to the safe and allows a business to protect hard drives without having to move them daily from the computer system to a secure storage location.

Prices start at under £160 for a smaller safe whilst the top of the range fire and water resistant safe has a capacity of 221 litres.