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Posted on May 23, 2011

What Are the Different Types of Fire Alarms?

Do you know what type of Houston fire alarm you need to install in your building? There are three major categories of fire alarms, all of which offer slightly different types of fire protection:

  • Thermal fire alarms – activated by heat
  • Ionization fire alarms – activated by smoke and gas (from flaming fires)
  • Photoelectric fire alarms – activated by smoke (from smoldering fires)

Needless to say, each type of fire alarm is designed for different applications, meaning that each has distinct advantages and disadvantages for your building.

Types of Fire Alarms

Thermal fire alarms –used primarily by large commercial or industrial facilities, thermal fire alarms are arguably the least safe type of fire alarm because they go off only when temperatures reach a certain level, meaning they can only detect a fire once it’s reached a set level of intensity. While thermal fire alarms may not seem like the best choice for most standard office buildings, they can be very useful in other buildings where smoke or heat is normally present and can trigger false alarms with normal fire alarms.

Ionization fire alarms – ionization fire alarms measure changes in electrical currents caused by tiny charged particles in the air. Using a harmless source of radioactivity, they ionize the air within the detector, allowing a small electric current to pass through. Smoke particles enter the detector and disrupt the flow of electric current. If the air flow drops below a certain level, an alarm triggers. Ionization fire alarms are highly effective against smoky fires and, since they run on normal batteries, they can be installed anywhere and will work in the event of a power outage.

Ionization fire alarms are typically not effective against thinner smoke from smoldering fires.

Photoelectric fire alarms – photoelectric fire alarms use a small lamp to shoot a beam of light across the detection chamber. Next to the light source but hidden from direct exposure to the beam is a light sensitive photocell. When smoke enters the detection chamber, it causes the light beam to scatter and move in all directions, with some light hitting the cell.

In a sense, photoelectric fire alarms are the opposite of ionization fire alarms – they react well to smoldering fires, but are not as effective against flaming fires.

If you want to upgrade your Houston, Texas building’s fire protection, call Kauffman today. We have years of experience in installing thermal, ionization and photoelectric fire alarms and can answer any questions you may have about your fire alarm.

We provide estimates for new and replacement fire protection systems throughout Texas (TX) in:

  • Alvin
  • Angleton
  • Austin
  • Baytown
  • Beaumont
  • Bellaire
  • Clute
  • Conroe
  • Deer Park
  • Dickinson
  • Freeport
  • Friendswood
  • Galena Park
  • Galveston
  • Houston
  • Humble
  • Huntsville
  • Jacinto City
  • Katy
  • La Marque
  • La Porte
  • Lake Charles, LA
  • Lake Jackson
  • League City
  • Missouri City
  • Orange
  • Pasadena
  • Pearland
  • Port Arthur
  • Richmond
  • Rosenberg
  • San Antonio
  • Schulenburg
  • South Houston
  • Stafford
  • Sugar Land
  • Texas City
  • The Woodlands
  • Victoria
  • Waco
For more information, contact us online or call us now at (713) 893-1090.
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