Electrical Contracting News (ECN) April 2017 - Page 44

SPECIAL FEATURE FIRE DETECTION & SAFETY BE ALARMED! Martyn Walley, national technical manager at Aico, explains why when it comes to CO alarms, it pays to know the particulars. According to Gas Safe Register, 1.1 million gas jobs are carried out every year by illegal fitters, directly putting the lives of occupants at risk from gas leaks, fire, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. It seems we are too trusting a nation and not willing to ask for credentials. The only way to fully protect an occupant from the dangers of CO poisoning is by fitting a CO alarm. When is a CO alarm necessary? In England and Wales, Building Regulations Document J requires a CO alarm to be fitted when any new or replacement solid fuel appliance is installed. The alarms should be fitted in the same room as the appliance. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, Technical Handbook 2 and Technical Booklet L apply respectively. Both require a CO alarm to be fitted when any new or replacement fuel appliance is installed (except cookers). This covers any fuel burning appliance, including those that burn gas, oil, coal and wood. Alarms should be fitted in the room with the appliance or, if it is an enclosed boiler, just outside the enclosure, plus any room that has a flue running through it. In all cases, the CO alarms must be BS EN50291 Kitemarked. They can be mains or battery powered, although if the latter is the case the battery should last for the life of the alarm. A good quality alarm has been made with reliable components that are designed to function to a high performance and to last. CO alarm types Unlike fire alarms, which come with different sensors to detect different types of fire, CO alarms have one sensor type. This makes alarm selection far simpler as the only decisions that need to be made are: a) Is a CO alarm required (see above)? b) CO alarm power source c) Will the CO alarm be interconnected with other alarms or systems? d) Which manufacturer’s CO alarm to opt for Power source Let’s start with the alarm power source. Mains powered CO alarms are the safest option as they provide added reliability as batteries don’t need to be changed. In the event of mains failure, they have battery back up and if you select ones with Lithium battery back up you don’t have the concern of someone ‘borrowing’ the battery for another device. However, if mains powered alarms are not a viable option there are now good quality battery powered CO alarms that come with sealed in Lithium batteries, such as Aico’s Ei208 range. 44 | April 2017