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Aspirating Fire and Smoke Alarms: Your Complete Guide

Aspirating Fire and Smoke Alarms: Your Complete Guide

There are many solutions for detecting the presence of fire and/or smoke in a building, and here at Scutum South East, we’re committed to providing the latest and best solutions for our customers.

Aspirating fire and smoke detection systems have been an option for a number of years now, but as they become increasingly sophisticated, they are also becoming a more popular choice for businesses keen to ensure that they are made aware of a fire at the earliest possible opportunity. 

If you’re not sure what aspirating fire and smoke alarms are, how they differ from other alarms, and whether they would be suitable for your own business, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide. But let’s start at the beginning.

Aspirating fire alarms

What are aspirating fire and smoke alarms and how do they work?

An aspirating fire and smoke alarm is an active detection system in that it constantly samples the air in a room for signs of smoke. Traditional smoke detectors, on the other hand, are passive detectors, relying on comparatively high levels of smoke and/or heat and only responding when any signs of that fire reach its sensors, which are usually located on the ceiling. 

The aspirating system works by drawing air into a network of pipes, filtering out any impurities as it does so. When the air reaches the sampling chamber, it searches for the presence of microscopic smoke particles.

With inlets usually located in a number of places around the room in question, that means that pretty much the whole of the room is being monitored and tested on a constant basis.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of aspirating fire and smoke alarms?

The main benefit of aspirating fire and smoke alarms is they can detect the presence of smoke far quicker than just about any other detection system. In fact, they can often detect it even before it becomes visible to the human eye. One of the earliest and still one of the best aspirating systems is known as VESDA – which stands for Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus.

Aspirating systems are also far less prone to false alarms than traditional detectors and, because they are generally hidden from view, they are also ideal for use in rooms and locations where aesthetics are a key consideration. 

As for disadvantages, the main one to bear in mind is that because of the need for a network of built-in pipes and detection chambers, aspirating detection systems can be both expensive and time-consuming to install.

What industries and applications are aspirating fire and smoke alarms used in?

Because they detect smoke so much quicker than traditional systems, aspirating fire and smoke alarms are often used in places where time is of the essence. This includes data centres and areas storing highly flammable materials.

They are also useful in areas where traditional systems are difficult to access, slow to react or vulnerable to damage and false alarms because of the conditions, such as high-level rooms and warehouses, cold stores and waste sites.

As mentioned earlier, in rooms and locations where a discreet form of smoke detection is preferable, aspirating systems have the benefit of being almost invisible. This makes them popular in modern offices, galleries, stately homes and other heritage buildings.

As one of the leading fire safety companies operating across South East England, including London and Surrey, Scutum South East is pleased to be able to supply, install and maintain some of the most modern and most effective aspirating fire and smoke alarms on the market. If you think you might benefit from this kind of detection system, we can make a free site visit to assess your premises and help you decide on the best next step.

Get in touch with us now to talk to one of our expert advisers and find out more.

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About Scutum South East

Scutum South East is a leading expert in fire safety and security solutions for businesses and organisations located across South East England, including London and Surrey.

From fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire risk assessments to access control, CCTV and intruder alarm systems – and a lot more besides – we offer a comprehensive range of products and services designed to keep you, your business and your staff and visitors safe.

With decades of industry experience to call on, we’re proud to hold accreditations from leading trade associations and bodies such as British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the British Fire Consortium, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).

If you’d like to find out more about Scutum South East, get in touch with our friendly team or explore our products and services on our site.