What types of fire alarms should be used in commercial risks?

July 11, 2023

by Nils Deacon, Manager, Inspections and Rating Services

An understanding of loss control devices is helpful in underwriting commercial coverage. National Fire Protection Association Code 72, Fire Alarm & Signaling, as well as Underwriters Labs UL 827, 268, and 217, detector standards, provide guidance when evaluating insured properties.

Heat sensor detectors are primarily intended for property protection. They are less susceptible (than smoke alarms) to false alarms and are relatively trouble free once installed. These detectors are useful in commercial or industrial applications such as laundries or operations that produce particulates. The devices detect abnormally high temperatures and respond with an alarm. To speed up the alert, another variation is rate of rise detectors. They respond when the temperature increases at a rapid rate, as might be expected in a flaming fire.

Spark / ember detectors are appropriate for industrial applications. They detect sparks or embers in the vicinity of mechanical or pneumatic conveyors and dust collection systems. Spark / ember detectors are often coupled with an automatic extinguishing system, since these areas are some of the most susceptible to fire, in high-value buildings with costly equipment.

Projected beam detectors, also called optical beam detectors, send light through a space to detect smoke across large areas. They are used in auditoriums, churches, and warehouses where effectiveness of standard smoke detectors is limited by the height of the building.

DISCLAIMER: This information reflects the interpretation of MSO, Inc. with regard to NFPA Standards and Codes. It does not represent NFPA’s official position on the items discussed.

Rate of rise detector.                                                             Warehouse operation where projected beam detector could be used.