If you’ve followed our blog at all over the years, you know that we take an all-encompassing approach to creating a home security plan. This proves contrary to many companies, who generally focus strictly on security against a break-in. Instead, we provide security that includes taking measures against burglary, porch theft, environmental threats, and more! Additionally, our monitored residential fire security has long remained one of our most important and effective offerings. This equipment will alert you to a fire or carbon monoxide-related emergency. Furthermore, it will also reate a dispatch from the local fire departmemt. Therefore, this security can save your home and, in some cases, even the life of you or a family member! In this post, we show you how we add this valuable security.

First, we’ll explain the use of strategically-located “spot” detection against these threats. Homeowners with an existing fire alarm system in place can install additional monitored detectors as desired. Then, we’ll look at how we create and install complete monitored fire systems for homes. This option fits homeowners who want every required smoke and CO detector location to have monitored equipment installed. This section will include an overview of the laws behind fire system design, as well as some scenarios for design requirements based on the age of the house. Now, let’s dive in with a focus on adding monitored fire detection in important areas of your home.

Adding “Spot” Detection to Your Alarm

More often than not, our customers have previously-installed high-voltage smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in place when we help them design their security. In these cases, we can add as little or as many monitored smoke detectors as desired. For example, many customers have us install one detector on each floor. Other times, they choose rooms that have particular fire or safety hazards. For example, bedrooms where kids sleep make a great spot to add monitored fire detection. As a note of clarification regarding terminology: Smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide “alarms” are high-voltage or battery-operated devices that detect the presense of these dangerous conditions and sound an alarm. On the other hand, smoke, heat, and CO “detectors” run off of either low-voltage wiring or batteries, and create both a local siren response and a response from a connected security system, which creates the fire department dispatch mentioned earlier.

A System Sensor smoke detector.

Monitored smoke detectors, such as this one by System Sensor, create an immediate fire department dispatch to any fire or carbon monoxide-related emergency at your home.

On the CO-detection side of things, we similarly install these detectors in areas where the presense of carbon monoxide could cause the greatest damage, or where your home experiences the potential creation of carbon monoxide. For example, installing monitored CO detection near sleeping areas can add tremendous security. After all, carbon monoxide poisoning most frequently sneaks up on those who cannot catch the advent of CO due to being asleep. As far as at-risk areas of your home, garages and areas near furnaces and water heaters make great installation locations. Creating the quickest possible response to the advent of a CO emergency goes a long way towards helping you stop the spread before it travels throughout your home. Now, let’s turn our attention to installing a full monitored residential fire security system, rather than simple spot detection.

Creating a Complete Monitored Fire System

As we mentioned earlier, most of our security customers have a fire alarm system in place when we start working with them to design their security. However, we also work with some customers that want to start from scratch and create an entire system of monitored smoke, heat, and CO detectors. Sometimes customers do this voluntarily, especially in the early stages of building a home. This represents the perfect time for us to wire and install monitored detectors in their proper locations. Other times, insurance companies require the installation of a monitored fire system in order to continue insuring older homes, especially of the historic variety. In this section, we break down how we handle these situations. To begin, let’s define exactly what we mean when we discuss creating a “complete” fire detection system.

Defining a “Complete” Fire Detection System

When we refer to installing a complete fire detection system, we mean that we are installing this equipment in each and every location required by local regulations. In this section, we’ll explain where these requirements come from. In the next, we’ll go over the actual requirements in detail. When it comes to smoke, heat, and CO detector placement guidelines, local law takes priority over any national codes or regulations. However, each state takes their lead from national fire codes.

In particular, the National Fire Protection Association (or “NFPA”) creates guidelines that states can adopt at their own pace. Specifically, the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, known as “NFPA 72,” contains required minimum locations for residential fire equipment. However, the fire code does not represent a “blanket” set of requirements. Instead, these regulations change based on the age of the house. As fire codes tightened, builders had to design homes with new regulations in mind. For this reason, very old homes do not hold as stringent requirements for fire detection as newer ones. With this background under our belts, let’s get into the specifics behind the code’s requirements!

Where Do We Install Detection Equipment?

When we discuss the evolution of the fire code, we must keep a few key years in mind. First up, 1975 represented the introduction of a national fire code. This code stated that homeowners must install a smoke alarm or detector in each of the following areas in homes built before 1975:

  • Every “habitable” level of the house. This means a finished attic would need an alarm, for example.
  • In the basement.
  • At the top and bottom of every staircase.
  • On the ceiling outside of every sleeping area.
  • In common areas of two-family dwellings.

Additionally, homes built in 1975 or later also had the requirements of an interconnected set of alarms/deetctors. This means that when one device sounds, so do all the others. Finally, homes built in 1975 or later must have one alarm or detector per 1,200 square feet of living space.

The NFPA 72 Fire Alarm Code Book

States create their fire alarm regulations largely based on the guidelines found in the NFPA 72 fire alarm code.

As far as later changes go, 1997 also introduced a major code addition. Houses built in this year going forward also require alarms or detectors installed inside of every bedroom. 2006 saw our state add the requirement of CO detection installed on each floor of a home, near sleeping areas. Finally, the 2008 version of NFPA 72 added the requirement of heat detection in attached garages. Of course, we also recommend installing detection above and beyond the legal minimum requirements!

Creating Monitored Residential Fire Security for Your Home

We hope that this post helps you find the monitored residential fire security solution that works best for you! Moreover, we also invite you to contact us with any questions this post may raise for you. We will happily answer any security-related inquiries you may have. Additionally, we also encourage you to take advantage of our free site survey program. We offer complimentary security audits and equipment quotes for both new and existing customers alike. While on site, we can address any fire security-related concerns you may have. Furthermore, we can also present suggestions of our own based on observations made during our visit.

Perhaps you have some security in place now, and wish to add some monitored fire equipment to your array of security products. Or, maybe you have very little in the way of security now, and wish to incorporate the fire security described here right from the start. Either way, we are here to help. Together, we can create a complete security plan for your home that also includes this valuable monitored fire detection. In doing so, we can help you keep your home — and everyone in it — as safe and secure as possible!