Can Fire Alarm System Smoke Detectors Replace 120 VAC Smoke Detectors?

Chirping Detector


When it comes to renovations of multi-residential buildings or transient occupancies (hotels, SROs, etc.), one of the considerations that designers of record has is long term costs to the owner.  An item the often gets overlooked are the living unit smoke detectors.  Most assume that local, 120 vac powered (AKA ‘single station’) smoke detectors are either their only option,  their least expensive option or that this type of detector is required by code.  None of these assumptions are true, especially for the long term impact to the owner.

Multi-unit residential occupancies will usually have a fire alarm system installed for common area protection, so it makes sense to see if that system can be extended into the residential spaces in order to simplify life safety installation requirements.  Modern fire alarm system smoke detectors can be programmed to function like a single station smoke detector, but with the added feature of being monitored for functionality.  This gives the building owners added protection for their occupants and can even reduce their insurance rates.

The perception of being more costly to install may keep designers and contractors from using system detectors in this application.  However, initial costs should be similar, since sleeping areas now require smoke detectors to be powered by the building’s electrical system.  Extending the low voltage fire alarm circuit into the living space rather than finding a new power source then installing a separate conduit saves on equipment and labor, as many municipalities do not require fire alarm circuits to be in conduit.

The bottom line is where new construction or major renovation is involved, utilizing the new technology modern fire alarm systems offer is not only a cost efficient way to meet code, it’s also the most reliable solution to give occupants early warning of fire.

Affiliate Fire Systems has installed the Gamewell-FCI family of products in many hotels, dormitories and multi-tenant residential buildings, utilizing system smoke detectors as single station devices.  Our team works with designers, installers and owners to provide the most efficient use of resources.  Give a call if you have any questions on how we can save you time and money in your installation.

Gene Rowe

About Gene Rowe

Gene Rowe serves as the Director of Business Development for Affiliated Customer Service. He brings twenty three years of fire alarm and emergency voice systems experience to the table with both an operational and marketing viewpoint. A US Army veteran, NICET certified, an executive board member of the IL-AFAA and a member of the NFPA, he began his career establishing operational expertise as a technician, developed graphic skills with CAD design as a general engineer, gained a ‘big picture’ mindset by moving to project management and finally a marketing perspective directing business development efforts. By interfacing with a broad range of diverse organizations such as the AFAA, CAA, AIA, CEA and the IFIA, he combines concerns of the owner, designer of record, contractor, distributor and approving authority to bring a unique perspective to Affiliated.

An avid marathon runner, he resides in west suburban Chicago with his wife and two sons. He's served the community as a Cub Scout Leader, as well as coaching multiple levels of travel and park district basketball and baseball teams. Professionally, he serves as the Treasurer and is on the Board of Directors for the Illinois chapter of the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (IL-AFAA).

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