The fire alarm system you choose depends on a number of things. The size your property, the shape of the building, the activities that go on there, and even current legislation for places of work, can all have an impact on the type of fire alarm you should have installed. However, it can be difficult to make that decision without first understanding a few of the key components that make up a fire alarm. Once you understand the technology, you’ll be able to make some informed choices about the fire alarm that’s right for you. Here are some of the key things you’ll come across:

Indicating Panels

Indicating panels are your main point of contact with a fire alarm system. By law, they must specified to British Standards, meaning that an indicator panel must have full, uninterrupted coverage of all circuits and both audio and visual cues are given for any fault or malfunction. The indicating panel is where you’ll be able to inspect various zones of the premises, so if an alarm does sound you’ll know where the fire is located. The placement of this panel is paramount to being able to respond to any instances of fire quickly and effectively.

Detector Heads

A ‘detector head’ is something we’re all used to seeing. These can take the form of heat detectors, smoke alarms, CO2 monitors or a combination of all three. The type of detectors you use again depend on the building and environment you’re trying to safeguard. A multisensor detector may be required in busy places like hotels and restaurants where there are multiple hazards such as cooking, candles and lanterns. Trained professionals will be able to tell you precisely which detector heads you need to be complicit with the law and protect your premises effectively.

Manual Call Points

These motion sensors at the ‘eyes’ of the system, able to detect movement inside your property. They should be very carefully placed in order to ensure your alarm system works optimally, and it’s best to get an expert to do this for you. Things like avoiding direct sunlight and ensuring they’re not placed near sources of heat like radiators will also increase their effectiveness. Spire use PIR systems which are pet tolerant.

Door Contacts

Most of your fire alarm system will be automated. However, it’s important to have manual call points which are instantly recognisable as small red boxes mounted in public areas. Failing an alarm, a passer by may use one of these call points if they witness a fire and need to alert nearby staff or customers. Usually these are behind a glass barrier which can be smashed and there’s a fine for improper use. Handle operated points are available in places where broken glass may be seen as particularly hazardous.


How your alarm sounds is important. While you can train your staff or regular attendees to your property what your fire alarm sounds like, the general public also need to be able to understand what it means. From dome bells to electronic state sounders, there are lots of options available – all of which require different voltages and come in different shapes and sizes.

Power unit

A power unit is the thing that drives your fire alarm system. By law, two power suppliers are required in case one should fail. One these points (the primary one) must be main supplied and the other battery powered. The size and type of power unit your require will depend on the size of your premise and the scale of the fire alarm system you are required to have installed.

Connection to Emergency Services

This is perhaps the most critical component to a fire alarm, as response time is everything when it comes to saving lives and limiting damage to property. British Standards used to suggest a direct monitored line to the nearest fire service which is less common these days. Instead, connections to an Alarm Receiving Centre are more common, who then make the plans to respond.

What next?

Spire Security are proud to be accredited to the most stringent international standards as recognised by the SSAIB. We’re also Safecontractor approved to give our customers absolute peace of mind when it comes to the installation, monitoring and maintenance of all intruder alarm systems.

For a free, no obligation security assessment to find out which lfire alarm system might be best for you, contact us today on 0800 112 3551 or email us at