Posted March 1, 2019

Wireless Fire Alarms – Your Questions Answered

Whilst technology has progressed significantly over recent years, people still have questions about wireless fire alarm systems.  So we interviewed Andy Stokes, our MD with over 20 years’ experience installing wireless fire alarms, to get some answers.

In what kind of buildings have you installed wireless fire alarms?

“SS Systems have been installing wireless fire alarms for over 20 years now. We use EMS equipment in the main, who have manufactured quality, reliable wireless kit for many, many years. Wireless fire alarms can be installed in any building – we’ve installed them in historic buildings, many of which are National Trust properties, schools and office buildings.”

Do wireless fire alarms interfere with any other wi-fi system or vice versa?

“Before we undertake the design of any wireless fire alarm, our manufacturers come to site to do a network survey. That ensures that the network signals are sufficient and tells us where to install the communication network around the building. This ensures that the system does not interfere with any other systems and put a network together based on any existing systems so that it does not.”

What are the ongoing battery costs?

“People are pleasantly surprised when they find out there is a 5 year battery life as they think they will only get 6-12 months. The advantages are that the five year plan is cheaper than carrying out a fixed wire test on a hard-wired system.

You required to get this test from a fully qualified electrician who will strip the system down and test the hard wire; it can be expensive and messy. With a battery replacement system it does work out cheaper, and there is the added benefit that there is no disruption.”

How long does it take to install?

“From an installation perspective on a typical business premises/hotel etc it can be very messy. The redecoration materials and labour costs need to be added to the disruption and loss of business caused, as it could take up to 4 weeks more than it does installing a wireless fire alarm.

For wireless systems, on average, one of our engineers will install a system within a week. It’s not intrusive in terms of areas of access and you don’t have to close the business. In a hotel, for example, we can be in and out of a bedroom quicker than a cleaner so the room is not held back.

Initially when you are quoted, the hard-wired system is comparatively not as expensive as a wire-free system, but when you factor in loss of business and redecorating costs then you will see a true reflection of the costs. The installation cost usually evens itself out, therefore, having the latest technology and ease of installation, is well-worth the investment in the longer term.”

Is it more reliable?

“Everything has to be European approved and British Standard. It’s got batteries that need to be monitored. The system keeps an eye on this and sends information to the panel, bringing any need for replacements to the user’s attention. It cannot run out of batteries and die there is a 30 day grace period so it won’t just stop. The information is relayed back every 6 seconds. Our systems haves to jump through lots of hoops to meet the standards, because we have an excellent reputation and a very high standard of code of practice to pass onto our customers.”

Other questions?

We have thick walls, will we have problem with wi-fi or mobile service?

“Wireless fire systems use different technology to what we as consumers know and use on a regular basis. The survey allows us to engineer our way around any issues. We have a system in Carlisle Castle with very thick walls – we’ve not been defeated yet. 15 feet thick walls! We have the technology and network capability to get around any issues”


So there you have it!  If you have any more questions, or want information about commercial fire alarms in general, then please get in touch via our contact us page.  We’ll be happy to take your call.