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05/01/2015 / Graham Lowe


With so many fire detection systems available, as an end user you may feel overwhelmed by the choice, so where do you start when it comes to selecting a new system?

Here’s our step-by-step guide to selecting the right solution.

Step 1: Understanding System Categories

Fire alarm systems are placed into the categories M, P1, P2, L1, L2, L3, L4 or L5, according to the functionality they offer and the applications they are suitable for. A fire safety consultant will be able to confirm what category of system is the best fit for your building. You can also read our handy BS5839 pocket guide to find out more about each of the categories.

Step 2: Consider the needs of your building

It is great to be innovative and have access to cutting-edge technology, and it is something that we pride ourselves on. However, it’s not necessarily the case that the newest, most recently-launched technology is the most suitable for the individual needs of the building in question. You need to take into account the specific requirements of the project when selecting fire safety solutions to ensure you choose products that offer the right features and benefits.

It may be advisable to consider the following:

  • What approvals does the system have?
  • What type of protocol does the system have – is it flexible?
  • What regulations does the system comply with?
  • What quality are the components?
  • Are the products protected from the environment to ensure reliability?
  • What life expectancy does the system have?

If you have a number of design proposals, you may decide that putting your answers into a table will help you clearly identify the most suitable solution.

Step 3: Work out the maintenance and repair costs

The total cost of ownership (TCO) for manufacturers’ products and their life expectancy can vary considerably – impacting on building owners’ finances.

A system with a life expectancy of five years, for example, is not going to be the most cost effective solution in the long run, and will end up costing you money further down the line. Products that require additional maintenance over their lifetime to keep in good working order will also prove more expensive long-term, as will systems that offer unreliable performance. You can read more about working out the cost of safety products across their life time in our blog on TCO.

Step 4: Talk to the experts

You should always make sure you speak to fire safety experts during the selection process to discuss the different options available. Once they have made their recommendations you may wish to speak to the product manufacturers as well, as they will be able to provide information on how their portfolio complies with European and local standards. This information will also be available from installation companies who have a strong partnership with the manufacturer, so always ask for this when considering a tender.

To find out more about how to make the product selection process more effective, you can talk to our experts at Hochiki Europe on 0044 (0)1634 266 566, or email

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