A fire alarm is also known as a smoke alarm and a smoke detector. It is basically a device that emits a signal, whether it is a siren, horn or buzzer, as an alert that a fire has started. Advantages of fire alarms include an early warning benefit, low cost and the opportunity to place the device in chosen locations.
Many fires occur at night or in a room or section that no one may be in at the time. The audible alert from the fire alarm can wake individuals up who may otherwise sleep while inhaling smoke. The alert can also provide an early signal during the day to individuals who, if not for the alarm, would not have the time needed to escape the home or building before the fire spreads out of control.
Another advantage of fire alarms is the flexibility to place them in specific rooms and areas of your choice. Although there are guidelines about certain areas to avoid, such as spots too close to bathrooms, where steam from showers and baths will inadvertently trigger the alarm, you do have options for where to install the units. For example, shared hallways for multiple bedrooms can be the location for a single fire alarm, or you can install the alarm in a bedroom that is usually closed off to other rooms.
When installed as part of a house or building's fire alarm system, instead of as single, self-contained units, fire alarms provide additional protection whether inhabitants are inside the dwelling at the time of the alarm or not. When the monitoring station that the system is connected with receives the signal, it can send emergency medical help for individuals who need it, and fire department personnel can assist those who need help exiting the home or building. Also, as part of an overall system, one fire alarm that goes off triggers all the other fire alarms to go off, providing an alert to anyone within the vicinity.
A fire system that is remotely monitored on a continuous basis is normally part of an agreement with an alarm company that also includes burglary alarms. Maintaining this fire alarm service is more costly. However, when used as single, standalone units, fire alarms are an inexpensive way to provide protection from smoke and possible fires. The only additional expense for the alarm is usually the cost of replacing a lithium 9-volt battery, which the alarms normally use. The fire alarm unit itself is usually around $20, as of May 2011.