Manual Call Points In Fire Alarms: A Quick Overview

a red and black fire alarm control

Fire alarms have come a long way. Their technology has significantly improved, from manual operations to automated facilitations.

Modern fire detectors distinguish themselves by high-performance audio and visual alerts and precision smoke detection. Yet, manual call points in fire alarms still play a vital role and are phenomenally useful.

Understanding Manual Call Points in Fire Alarms

Manual call points are devices installed on walls within buildings, typically at eye level and in prominent locations such as near exits, in corridors, and adjacent to stairwells.

A manual call point (MCP) is an alarm in a box with a button or level that you must manually push to trigger it. It has a protective glass or plastic casing that you must break to trigger it.

A single building can have multiple manual call points, but they are easily distinguishable with proper labels and signs. Glass-type MCPs aren’t in circulation and are mostly replaced by plastic casings that you can remove to trigger the alarm.

Types of Call Points

Photo by Josh Sorenson

Conventional call points and wireless call points are available in the market. If you seek specialized operations, weatherproof options are available for harsh environments. Similarly, waterproof call points are also quite common.

There are two distinctions of manual call points – a button type and a key type:

  • Button Type call point requires you to press the button to activate it.
  • Key-type call point requires a key to activate and eliminate the risk of fake alarms.

There are also battery and wired manual call points. Battery-operated call points are proven to be maintenance-friendly and more accessible to move and install. You can explore different types of manual call points on this site.

Quick Colour Distinction

Manual call points are available in three colors – Red, Green, and White.

  • Red Call Points are the official fire call points that activate fire alarms and other related safety systems.
  • Green Call Points are primarily used to release a door to evacuate the building manually.
  • White Call Points are customizable and usually have signs explaining their function. However, they can’t be used for fire systems.

Manual Call Point Installation Guidelines

fire alarm between the extinguisher and the fire hydrant box
Photo by Jan van der Wolf

Manual call points are necessary for buildings and areas such as construction sites, schools, shopping centers, and other accommodations. They need to be installed near the escape route, and there can be multiple call points.

You must follow proper regulations and install red manual call points for fire systems.

Here are a few other points to consider:

  • Fire Call Points should be installed in high-risk areas.
  • Each floor should have a manual call point at max 30-45 meters distance. Twenty-five meters for high-risk areas.
  • Manual call points should be easily visible and reachable in public places. 
  • In areas with a high risk of false alarms, manual points should be key-based or not easily accessible to the general public (e.g., in bars). Consultation with fire authorities is necessary.
  • The average height of installation for MCP is 1.4 meters but can be decreased in disabled people areas.
  • Clear signage should indicate the location of MCPs to ensure they can be easily found in an emergency.
  • Installation should comply with local fire safety regulations and standards, which may dictate specific requirements for placement and usage.

Automatic or Manual Call Points

emergency red button
Photo by Jakub Zerdzicki

In a fire safety system, automatic and manual call points are essential. There isn’t a single choice. Automatic call points detect heat, smoke, or fire and trigger the alarm. Manual call points need a person to activate them.

Automated systems are used for precision and reliability. However, there are rare cases of them not working. In such cases, manual call points prove effective. If you’re unsure about call point installation, consider these points:

  • Access the fire hazards in your location.
  • Identify the risk, damage, and people factors.
  • Check if you can reduce the risks or hazards.

Design and Functionality

lighted running signage
Photo by Matthias Zomer

Manual call points come in various designs, but they generally consist of the following key components:

  1. Activation Mechanism: The activation mechanism can be a glass pane that must be broken or a plastic element that is pushed to activate the alarm. Modern MCPs often use resettable elements to avoid the need for replacing glass after each use.
  2. Indicator: An indicator, often an LED, shows that the MCP has been activated and that the signal has been received by the fire alarm control panel.
  3. Casing: The casing is usually made of durable, fire-resistant material to protect the internal components and ensure longevity and reliability.
  4. Mounting: MCPs are designed for easy installation and are mounted on walls in easily accessible locations.

Maintenance and Testing

Regular maintenance and testing of manual call points are essential to ensure their reliability and functionality. Maintenance procedures typically include:

  1. Visual Inspections: Regular checks for any visible damage or obstructions that might impede access to the MCP.
  2. Functional Testing: Periodic activation tests to ensure the MCP correctly triggers the fire alarm system. Modern systems allow for testing without breaking the glass or resetting the device.
  3. Record Keeping: Documenting all maintenance and testing activities to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations and to track the performance and reliability of the MCPs.

Installing fire alarms and safety systems at home is also a vital step. Detecting early signs of home damages and potential risks may assist you in making the right decision. The cost of the entire system may vary depending on the number of installations and the type of system you opt for.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, please read my full affiliate disclosure here.

I also use Artificial Intelligence Image generators to create some of my images. These are to show you examples of my ideas and inspiration when I cannot produce the real images myself.

manual call points in fire alarms: a quick overview

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