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How Do Fire Alarms Work in Commercial Buildings?

How Do Fire Alarms Work in Commercial Buildings?

Fires can devastate a business. Whether you own stores, warehouses, offices, garages, hospitals, and hotels, big or small; fires can be a great threat to a business’ livelihood. Having a fire alarm can protect not just your goods and your property but also your customers and staff.

There are many reasons why a fire can occur, the main causes are cooking or heating equipment going awry, an electrical or lighting equipment failure, or an intentional criminal act or vandalism. Due to the risks and the damage that can be caused by such an incident, fire alarms are of the utmost importance. Commercial fire alarms use sophisticated sensors that will detect excessive heat and rising levels of carbon monoxide to avoid poisonings and detect fire and smoke. Once the fire alarm has detected an issue, it will trigger an alarm warning the people in and directly outside of the building.

How Do Commercial Fire Alarm Systems Work? - 4 Steps

How Do Commercial Fire Alarm Systems Work

A fire alarm is vital for any commercial property. Let’s take a tour of the step by step of how commercial fire alarm systems work.

Step 1: Fire Alarm Is Triggered

When a fire alarm system is triggered, it is impossible to miss it; a loud siren will start blaring, alerting everyone in and around the premises of the danger. Something like smoke or fire can trigger the alarm, but it can also be activated manually by someone in the building by pulling on one of the many red levers designated for fire alarms.

Step 2: An Alarm Is Sent

Once the fire alarm is set off, it will automatically alert the authorities. Your fire alarm system will either send this SOS message via telephone or via a mobile network, depending on the original setup. This is when fire drills are activated, and having an established exit strategy is vital.

Step 3: Authorities Are Notified

When the monitoring center receives the distress message, they will immediately dispatch the appropriate resources. This means that the police, ambulance, and fire department will all be sent to your address.

Step 4: The Customer Is Notified

After the relevant authorities have been dispatched, there will be a signal for the monitoring center to notify the customers, to keep them informed regardless of whether they are at the scene or away.

How Do Commercial Fire Alarms Work

If There Is Phone Line Monitoring

A fire alarm system traditionally works with a POTS, which is a plain old telephone. This phone line must be strictly reserved for the fire alarm system and must not be shared under any circumstances. This edict comes directly from the NFPA 72, which is published by the National Fire Protection Association every 3 years to aid in the safe and uniform installation of fire alarms in the United States. Phone line monitorings are secure and stable because a copper line is used to send messages and communicate signals to the fire alarm monitoring company.

If There Is Cellular Monitoring

These days, many businesses are looking for convenience and to cut unnecessary costs; when a POTS is used to monitor the fire alarm system it can get costly. Thanks to technology and the increasingly popular wireless world, fire alarm systems can be set up to send a distress message via a wireless network using a cellular tower. Cellular monitoring is becoming the go-to option for commercial establishments everywhere.


Accidents and fires can be prevented, however, sometimes misfortune strikes. It is important to be prepared. Contact our specialists at Forbel Alarms for a free consultation on the installation of a fire alarm system on your commercial property.


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Dzmitry Beliayeu
Dzmitry Beliayeu

Dzmitry Beliayeu is a commercial building security expert, technology consultant, and licensed alarm contractor

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