Notification devices: fire alarm horn, speaker, and bell
Audible and visual notification devices are responsible for alerting you in the event of a fire emergency. Consequently, these are considered some of the most important components of a fire alarm system. Different types of buildings and situations require different types of notification devices, and in this article, we will explore the audible ones: the fire alarm horn, speaker, and bell.
The right type of audible device for my fire alarm system
First, you will need to consider the size and occupation type of your building. Low-rise constructions, for example, usually require horns. Every building with an enclosed structure below 35 meters (or 115 feet) can be considered low-rise. Meanwhile, high-rise constructions need the installation of speakers.
Another thing to consider is the purpose of your building and its occupancy type. General office buildings, for example, require the installation of a fire alarm system on public-mode signaling. It means that you will have to install notification devices in every room. Places like health care facilities and some educational facilities, on the other hand, require private-mode signaling. In this format, only people with direct instruction will be alerted in an emergency.
Generally speaking, if you design a non-voice fire alarm system, you will use horns or bells. If you design a fire emergency voice/alarm communications system, you will need to use speakers.
You can install horns on the inside or outside of a building. The sound it emits can be adjusted to fit different patterns and volume requirements, but it has been standardized over time. That happened so people can identify their tone instantly, doing an association with a fire emergency.
To alert the occupants of a building, horns emit non-intelligible signals at a specific decibel level, which can vary according to the average ambient sound volume. Therefore, the decibel level needs to be effectively higher than the ambient sound.
You can also have different types of horns in the same building, for example, weatherproof horns, horn strobes, and low-frequency horns.
These devices are most recommended for outdoor use since they are resilient to weather conditions. Since weatherproof horns have a high tolerance for humidity and high or low temperatures, you can install these on outside walls, stairs, or any other surface.
This device offers a combination of audible and visual notifications. Since many facilities require both features, the use of one device only is much more practical and efficient. While the horn produces a loud sound, the strobe can notify people who might have a hearing impairment.
In buildings where you find people sleeping, such as in hotels, health care facilities, or apartments, the low-frequency horns might be required. Research findings suggest that a low-frequency tone could be more effective in waking high-risk individuals during an emergency. Therefore, low-frequency horns are perfect for situations like this.
While notifying people in emergencies, horns won’t give any specific information on what is going on exactly. Meanwhile, if you have speakers installed, you can provide customized directions and instructions.
Speakers can be programmed to emit recorded messages, and some types have a built-in microphone for live messages. Additionally, a voice evacuation system can emit non-intelligible signals, as horns do. These signals still need to meet all the audible requirements for decibels and patterns. Meanwhile, the voice messages need to be fully intelligible to ensure the occupants of a building will understand the instructions. The message is not emitted as loud as the horn sounds, but it provides a clear picture of what is happening.
Besides working as an alert in the event of a fire, some devices can also alert people in other situations, such as extreme weather conditions or active shooters. In the same way as horns, you can find different types of speakers for various applications.
These devices are most recommended for outdoor use since they are resilient to weather conditions. Since weatherproof speakers have a high tolerance for humidity and high or low temperatures, you can install these on outside walls, stairs, or any other surface.
This device offers a combination of audible and visual notifications. Since many facilities require both features, the use of one device only is much more practical and efficient. While the speaker emits a clear message, the strobe can notify people who might have a hearing impairment, for example.
High Fidelity Speaker
High fidelity speakers can provide you with the best quality voice messages, ideal for emergency situations. These devices work across a frequency range of 300 to 8000 Hz and are designed for high fidelity sound output. This means that this equipment will have inaudible noise and distortion, reproducing sounds as they were originally recorded.
When talking about fire alarm bells, there are two main types: electric and water-activated bells. Electric bells connect to security systems, fire alarm systems, or electronic devices that activate when water flows through a fire sprinkler system. In contrast, water-activated bells only ring when a supply of pressurized water passes through a pipe.
You can still find fire alarm bells in many places, like schools, libraries, and parking garages, but their use has been reduced over the years. It is not very usual to find bells in new constructions, for example.
Engineers designed this device to meet specifically the requirements of the private-mode signaling mentioned before. It emits a distinctive chime tone to alert trained personal. Once aware of an emergency, it is their responsibility to help evacuate and relocate people to the safest area.
Regardless of your choice between fire alarm horn, speaker, bell, or chime, all of them play a vital role in warning people in the case of an emergency. At The Fire Alar Supplier, you can find several types of notification devices from the United States’ most well-known brands. Have a look at our shop and find exactly what you need for your fire alarm system.