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Different types of fire alarm systems used for commercial buildings

A fire alarm system is a critical fire safety device designed to alert all occupants of a fire threat in a fire emergency. The alarm system’s early warning provides the occupants a chance to evacuate the premises until the firefighters can arrive. As per the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines, every commercial property is required to employ a fire alarm system adhering to the fire department’s specific regulations. If you need to install a new fire alarm system or upgrade your building’s existing fire alarm system as per the latest guidelines, it is crucial to learn about the various types of fire alarm systems.

Following are the main categories of fire alarm systems:

Manual and automatic fire alarms

Fire alarms can be broadly divided into two main categories - manual and automatic.

Manual fire alarm system

Manual fire alarms, as the name suggests, need to be activated manually by a building occupant. This type of alarm system is usually connected to a central fire alarm system. Different pull stations are installed everywhere in the building so, whenever there is a fire threat, and any staff member or other occupants notice it, they can pull the lever to sound the fire alarm.

Automatic fire alarm system

An automatic fire alarm system is designed for immediate action whenever it detects heat or smoke in the building. Unlike the manual system, it can protect the building and notify the fire fighting authorities even when there are no occupants in the building, thus saving your building from potential property loss. Whenever the alarm system detects the early indicators of a fire, it immediately sends audio and visual alerts to alert all the occupants.

The fire alarms can further be divided into different types under the above categories, such as:

Conventional Fire alarm system

A conventional fire alarm monitors all the specific parts of a building through a central control board. This system can either be manual or automatic, depending on the commercial building’s size and nature of commercial activities. Whenever an alarm is triggered in any building zone, the alarm activates throughout the building to alert all occupants of the fire threat.

Addressable Fire alarm system

Like a conventional alarm system, an addressable fire alarm system is also connected to a central board. However, each section of the building is assigned a separate fire alarm to notify which area is specifically under the fire threat. The control panel helps in identifying the specific area where the alarm has been triggered. It is usually available in both auto and manual options. Due to its advanced monitoring system, it is also popularly known as an “intelligent system.”

Hybrid fire alarm system


The hybrid fire alarm system is designed to combine the capabilities of both conventional and addressable fire alarm systems. There are many different kinds of wired and wireless hybrid fire alarm systems available.

If you are not sure which fire alarm system is best suitable for your commercial establishment, FireServ can help you manage your fire protection and life safety needs. We offer nationwide fire protection compliance services, including fire extinguishers, fire alarms, fire suppression systems, sprinkler systems, panic bars, exit door alarms, and more.

Get in touch with our team to know more about different fire protection devices and maintenance services we offer.

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