Author Topic: Interlinked fire alarms  (Read 1541 times)

Interlinked fire alarms
« on: 05 October, 2021, 08:17:31 pm »
So with the new rules starting next year, thinking I should get some interlinked smoke alarms.
Looks like I will need 3 smoke alarms, plus 1 heat alarm for the kitchen. Is it worth getting more, an alarm in every room?
Plus a CO detector for the stove, though that doesn't necessarily need to be linked.

So what to get? Mains or battery powered? How much for a decent system?
For mains powered, how easy is it to DIY? Or do you need a proper electrician?

Any recommendations for makes/models?

BrianI

  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Lepidopterist Man!
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #1 on: 05 October, 2021, 08:32:50 pm »
So with the new rules starting next year, thinking I should get some interlinked smoke alarms.
Looks like I will need 3 smoke alarms, plus 1 heat alarm for the kitchen. Is it worth getting more, an alarm in every room?
Plus a CO detector for the stove, though that doesn't necessarily need to be linked.

So what to get? Mains or battery powered? How much for a decent system?
For mains powered, how easy is it to DIY? Or do you need a proper electrician?

Any recommendations for makes/models?

I bought long life battery powered (10 year battery, apparantly) interlinked ones for my mother. Very easy diy installation, simply screw them up to the ceiling. 

£140 or thereabouts for a set of 3 smoke & 1 heat alarm. 

https://www.safelincs.co.uk/firehawk-w-series-sealed-battery-wireless-3-smoke-1-heat-alarm-kit/

I'll probably go for the same set for myself soon.

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #2 on: 05 October, 2021, 08:57:00 pm »
The wee brother is spending a fair whack of his time just now installing mains ones with wired interlink.

Think it's these ones he puts in
https://www.safelincs.co.uk/ei-3000-series-mains-powered-smoke-heat-alarms-lithium-backup/

What I find interesting about the ones BrianI has shared is the units have the expected 10 year lifespan, but the wireless base is only 7 years... so you're going to be changing the interlink base before the units themselves.

With the mains ones IIRC the wiring must be signed off by a qualified electrician to be compliant, this isn't a problem when your we brother has the appropriate tickets but is if you're DIYing it.
He gave me a certificate, it'll be in my e-mail somewhere...

Which all makes me think the mains ones are a bit much of a faff given they're more expensive to buy and install than the battery ones.
I'd also suspect that by the time the batteries have run out in battery ones your lungs are toast anyway.

Also having 3 going off at once when I let cooking exhaust reach the hallway one or since the previous owner had their mains one in front of the bathroom door and the wee shite couldn't be arsed putting the new one somewhere more sensible, I know when a guest likes a hot shower.

road-runner

  • Currently in Slovakia
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #3 on: 05 October, 2021, 09:39:13 pm »
So with the new rules starting next year ...

I am curious: what new rules and who needs to follow them?

Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #4 on: 05 October, 2021, 09:55:56 pm »
So with the new rules starting next year ...

I am curious: what new rules and who needs to follow them?

Only for those of us in Scotland, as far as I'm aware: https://www.mygov.scot/home-fire-safety

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #5 on: 05 October, 2021, 09:57:04 pm »
Scotlandland.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/fire-and-smoke-alarms-in-scottish-homes/

Presumably on account of us falling into an boozahol induced coma after coming home from the pub and putting full heat under our manky chip-pans.

I'll respond to the technical query tomorrow once the Tuesday Tequila has worn off.
The 'certified electrician' stuff in relation to mains powered wired installations is not correct.

BrianI

  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Lepidopterist Man!
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #6 on: 05 October, 2021, 10:06:17 pm »
So with the new rules starting next year ...

I am curious: what new rules and who needs to follow them?

Only for those of us in Scotland, as far as I'm aware: https://www.mygov.scot/home-fire-safety

While I doubt that the Police (or Nicola Sturgeon) will be going door to door to check you have complied with the (sensible) regulations, no doubt if anyone in Scotland didn't get the new alarms fitted, and had a fire, then their household insurance would be null and void.

While I'm ok in that I can afford and able to fit them myself, I'm sure there could well be one or two companies profiteering at the expense of worried OAPs, who then get charged thousands for the installation of interlinked alarms.

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #7 on: 05 October, 2021, 10:31:00 pm »
For reference, the wee shite lifted 271 quid off me for it, ran my heating, let the dog run around the house and drank copious amounts of tea.
So that's evidently about 100 quid worth of kit, the rest his time and certification (both for the electrics and commissioning the system (BS5839 PArt 6 2019)).

Commissioning appears to involve, pressing the test buttons, confirming that all of them go off while doing so, checking the sound level in rooms without the sounders, confirming that he didn't just wire them into the socket circuit and that the lot is on their own spur from the consumer unit, put some dymo stickers on something, and told me what to do and not do with the system.

He also found a short section of twin and earth that was far to close to the previous halogen downlighter and was rather burnt.

OR you can just waz some battery ones up and not worry about any of that.

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
    • Twitter
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #8 on: 05 October, 2021, 10:37:24 pm »
Still haven't tested mine to find out if they are interlinked but I suspect they were installed when the place got rewired in 2015 and the amount of dust I just spotted on the one in the hall would seem to concur. If they're not I guess I'll be going battery powered. I had a wee shuftie online before we moved & reckoned it was going to be around the 140 squids mark.

For example
https://www.safelincs.co.uk/firehawk-w-series-sealed-battery-wireless-3-smoke-1-heat-alarm-kit/

https://www.firedetectionshop.co.uk/domestic-smoke-and-heat-alarms/scottish-legislation/housing-scotland-act-1987-battery-powered-detector-pack-1/?gclid=CjwKCAjw1JeJBhB9EiwAV612ywhMSBRAarAgOhSb_lvnYnwQIkppTUcfkdnKpArQakFVfpmCzsm3exoCCysQAvD_BwE

 
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #9 on: 05 October, 2021, 10:44:58 pm »
Is the law retrospective? If it is that's bold!

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
    • Twitter
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #10 on: 05 October, 2021, 10:48:23 pm »
Homes are supposed to have them by February.
Quote
Every home in Scotland must have interlinked fire alarms by February 2022.
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #11 on: 05 October, 2021, 10:53:41 pm »
Is the law retrospective? If it is that's bold!

How do you mean?

Last time I checked houses can't time travel, so the fact they need a fire alarm system from a set date that's currently in the future and not one in the past seems non-retrospective.

Or do you mean that it's not like the electrical safety rules that mean distribution boards have to be updated if a qualified electrician so much as sneezes at your wiring?
In that you still need the work done even though no ones sneezed at your house?

It was already a legal requirement in new builds and certain commercial properties, so this is it now being applied to the remainder of the housing stock.
It is quite a bold move to make almost eveyone get the stuff fitted, but there's been various people calling for this for years, particularly due to the ability to leave the chip pan on while hammered/stoned.


The legal stuff is here
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2019/8/introduction

I think the tolerable standard has been altered from its original definition since 1987 on more than one occasion.

Edit: 2006
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2006/1/section/11


IIRC Willie Rankines house in Wormit was demolished by the council on the basis of failing to meet the tolerable standard.
He didn't have water or or electricity, it was also falling down and looked nowhere near as good as it did in this picture (bottom right)

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Df3d37gXUAAuaxK.jpg:large

Some tenements on Blackness Road in Dundee were recently demolished on council orders, with the private owners given compensation.
They had exterior access doors with walkways rather than internal closes, and the protruding walkways were beyond economical repair.


Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #12 on: 05 October, 2021, 11:12:33 pm »
I thought it must be for new build or for landlords on their slums, very bold that it is for the rest of the stock to be compliant now I see that new/slum stuff is already done. I know a sparky who says "that board isn't compliant any longer" - makes it sound less up selly?

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #13 on: 05 October, 2021, 11:18:30 pm »
I thought it must be for new build or for landlords on their slums, very bold that it is for the rest of the stock to be compliant now I see that new/slum stuff is already done. I know a sparky who says "that board isn't compliant any longer" - makes it sound less up selly?

It seems bold, but the tolerable standard has gained things in the past, and been imposed in the past, this is no different.

Councils or the Scottish Ministers or the Secretary of State have the right to turn up and make your property meet the tolerable standard if you fail to do so, and then charge you for the privilege.
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2006/1/section/35

It appears the English equivalent is the "Decent Homes Standard"

Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #14 on: 06 October, 2021, 07:50:51 am »
I'm hoping to move by February, so haven't bothered in the current place. If I'm still here then (or if I'm in a new place that doesn't have them installed), I'll go for the wireless ones to reduce the faff.

TBH, it would make more sense in flats to have interlinked ones throughout the building (or at least in the communal areas). I'm in what used to be one big house, but is now various flats. Seems odd to me that I need to have 3 alarms on my floor, but there's no requirement to have anything linked to the floors above or below. ???

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
But they never got to Carcassonne.

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #16 on: 06 October, 2021, 08:41:02 am »
Yes, it is retrospective.

Normally, new regs don't apply to older buildings which were built to the standards of the day.
This does.

All the Qualified Electrician stuff does not apply in Scotland.
So long as the work is performed to the correct standard, it matters not a hoot who did it.


Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #17 on: 06 October, 2021, 08:44:56 am »
We have wired ones in our house in Scotland - the lecky did it when we had him out to wire the barn up. Those two jobs involved much rearranging of main electrikery box in house, plus installing circuit for alarms. We got it all done in a day.

I've put battery-wireless-operated ones in the house in York. Stuck to ceilings. The 'pairing' setup was a pain for these (we installed 5).
<i>Marmite slave</i>

T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #18 on: 06 October, 2021, 10:00:52 am »
I've put battery-wireless-operated ones in the house in York. Stuck to ceilings. The 'pairing' setup was a pain for these (we installed 5).

What sort of distance between units can they handle?
But they never got to Carcassonne.

Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #19 on: 06 October, 2021, 10:04:59 am »
I've put battery-wireless-operated ones in the house in York. Stuck to ceilings. The 'pairing' setup was a pain for these (we installed 5).

What sort of distance between units can they handle?

Can't remember official figures. It is a 3 story house (semi with converted attic), alarms in kitchen, living room and hall on ground floor, then one in each hall on the next two floors. Pairing maintained over that distance.

Internal walls are brick, wood floors.

I'm guessing that the alarms daisy-chain - judging by the way the pairing works. So once set up, each alarm broadcasts a signal and code, which triggers the next nearest and so on.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #20 on: 06 October, 2021, 12:08:38 pm »
I'm not in Scotland so these rgulations don't apply here.  Our fire alarm is merely to stop us burning to DETH.

On that basis, it needs to be able to wake barakta, which means it needs to link to a vibrating pad (she won't wake with flashing lights alone).

There are two consumer wireless systems that support that:
1) Aico Ei RadioLink.
2) FireAngel Wi-Safe2.

The first is notorious for false alarms, so we went with the FireAngel, and to their credit we had a single false alarm with them.  But they turned out to have '10-year' batteries with a life of about 18 months to 3 years, and a serious design flaw:  When the battery voltage drops below spec[1], the unit chirps, followed by all the linked units chriping and a blinkenlight on the deaf alerting wossname flashes.  As such, the only way to know *which* unit has the low battery is to leap out of bed and position yourself at a strategic location, so that you can use stereo hearing[2] to binary search the house at each subsequent chirp.  If you're lucky, you'll locate the offending unit before the voltage creeps back within spec (possibly because you've been moving round the house stirring up the air) and the chirping stops ...for now.

Over a few years this put me seriously on edge, to the point where, after several new alarms and a couple of guerrilla battery replacements, I consigned the whole lot to the bin for the benefit of my mental health, and bodge-installed a professional wired addressable fire alarm system with competent diagnostic features and a single replaceable battery in the control panel.  It wasn't even that much more expensive, which shows what a ripoff high-end consumer-grade kit can be.

As ever, wired systems work.  Wireless things mean radio and batteries, and now you have two problems.  Running wires is sometimes a pain, but if you own your own house you don't get to moan about it, because at least your barrier is technical rather than the risk of loss of deposit or eviction for disturbing some social parasite's precious magnolia emulsion.

And if you're going to buy into a system, it's probably worth checking that you can get low-frequency sounders[3], flashing lights and vibrating pads for it should you or a family member need them in future.


[1] Which inevitably happens at 4am, because chemistry.
[2] Spot the flaw in this idea.
[3] The 1kHz beep beloved of penny-pinching engineers is deeply suboptimal for anyone with age-related hearing loss.  You can get low-frequency sounders which are easier for them to hear, and are slightly better at waking small children[4].
[4] This is your irregular reminder that children don't reliably wake up in response to fire alarms.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #21 on: 06 October, 2021, 12:30:00 pm »
Oh, thank you for that, Kim. My parents (and I) are in Scotland, so this applies, and my father has standard-issue age-related hearing loss. (Is having a wife who (currently) isn't deaf and should hopefully wake him up before legging it out of the house herself an adequate back-up? Or am I putting too much faith in my mother...?)

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #22 on: 06 October, 2021, 01:09:12 pm »
If you are lucky enough to have a wired system already fitted, or one can be fitted easily, then that's the most robust option. My house has that, so it took very little work to replace them last year when I realised they were past due :-[. I simply unwired the old units (ADE) and replaced them with new units (FireAngel) and ran through the test procedure. I have a heat sensor in the kitchen, and then smoke detectors in the entrance hallway and on the landing at the top of the stairs. This exceeds current regs in England and Wales, but the new Scottish regs would require me to have one in the living room as well - https://www.aico.co.uk/technical-support/standards-regulations/fire-building-regulations/

To use a wired system would rely on the devices sharing wiring (in my case, 3 core & earth) so if that isn't present, I would be very tempted to go wireless instead, and probably battery as otherwise it's a lot of faff chasing in new wiring. I thought about wiring in a couple CO alarms when I was installing the Smoke alarms to make a complete wired system, but it was easier to just get battery ones for the rooms with gas appliances in them.
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #23 on: 06 October, 2021, 01:19:42 pm »
Oh, thank you for that, Kim. My parents (and I) are in Scotland, so this applies, and my father has standard-issue age-related hearing loss. (Is having a wife who (currently) isn't deaf and should hopefully wake him up before legging it out of the house herself an adequate back-up? Or am I putting too much faith in my mother...?)
We didn't rely on me to wake barakta because sometimes I'm elsewhere...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Interlinked fire alarms
« Reply #24 on: 06 October, 2021, 01:33:37 pm »
Yes, it is retrospective.

Normally, new regs don't apply to older buildings which were built to the standards of the day.
This does.

All the Qualified Electrician stuff does not apply in Scotland.
So long as the work is performed to the correct standard, it matters not a hoot who did it.

My understanding is that in this case the wiring forms part of the specification in the British Standard that is required to be met, and so it does need to be signed off as compliant to be compliant and therefore legal. Wireless ones don't have that problem hence why the gov info say they can be DIYed and say wired ones need to be professionally installed.

I'd ask the annoying wee git, but it's not in his interest as someone who is qualified to do the whole lot and sign it off himself to say how much can be DIYed.
This does make me realize that should I ever want to read the contents of a BS that's paywalled, I can just ask him... although the manner in which we get on, he would charge me appropriately with mark up applied.