Can Fire Alarms Be Used For Terror & Bomb Threats?

When considering security and emergency planning, it's important to think about the many possibilities of things that could happen. Whilst uncomfortable to think about, a terror or bomb threat in a school or education environment is a possibility, so it's important to have a plan in place, in case the worst happens.

However, this raises a question, do you need a specific terror or bomb alarm, or could you use the school fire alarm system as a multi-purpose emergency alarm? The short answer is no, however your fire preparedness plan can be very useful when considering plans for other emergency situations and there are some alarm systems which can be used for multiple different alerts.

The Differences Between Terror And Fire Plans?


At first it may seem like there would be no difference between fire and terror related alarm systems, after all in the event of an emergency the alarm sounds and everyone evacuates. However, different emergencies necessitate different emergency responses. For example, the safe distance from a fire is considerably shorter than the safe distance from an explosion. If the same alarm is used, how are the people evacuating expected to know where to assemble at?

With the typical fire evacuation, your assembly point needs to be a reasonable distance from the building; so that all those evacuating there can be kept well away from flames, smoke, and debris. Usually around 50 feet or 15 metres will suffice, depending on the size of the building or fire. However, with a terror or bomb threat you should be at least 500 metres from the location and if possible your meeting place should not be a car park. Additionally, you should have at least two assembly points for rendezvous, which should be in opposing directions.

Fire Alarm

Due to these differences, a one size fits all solution isn't reasonable for evacuation alarms. However, if you installed a multi alarm system with different sirens and sounder tones in order to indicate different threat levels, then perhaps the fire alarm system could indeed be repurposed to fit numerous roles.

The main reason you need different sounder tones is because of the different types of appropriate emergency response. In event of a fire, you need to meet at the assembly point, in a terror event you need to meet at one of the 2+ rendezvous areas; of which you'll need a way to identify which area you're evacuating to. However, there is another consideration your alarm system will have to take into account. Some circumstances will render an evacuation too dangerous and as such you'll need a specific sounder tone to alert people to commit to an invacuation.

The Difference Between Evacuation And Invacuation

As described on the website, “There are occasions when it is safer to remain inside." Essentially an invacuation is sheltering inside the building you are currently in. This means moving away from external windows and walls.

How Should You Rehearse Evacuations?

Familiarisation of evacuations and emergency plans is essential to a swift and effective response in the event of an emergency. As such, it's of the upmost importance that you school practices a range of evacuations so that they maintain a high level of readiness and ensures that both staff and students know what is expected of them when different alerts occur.

Additionally, it's also important that people remain calm during an evacuation, regardless of the threat. A panicked rush to the assembly point could cause people to fall and be trampled, resulting in serious injuries. As such, evacuation drills and rehearsals are an essential tool to help reduce panic and keep both staff and students calm in the event of an emergency situation.

Want To Learn More About Fire And Security Alarms? Visit Our Blog

As alarm specialists in London with over 30 years of experience, it's fair to say we know a thing or two about installing and maintaining alarm systems. So if you would like to learn more about fire alarms, security alarms, or evacuation procedures, we recommend visiting our blog.

For example, you could read about how often fire alarms should be tested, how often you should rehearse evacuations , and the differences between various different types of alarm products including conventional, analogue addressable, wireless, and air sampling systems.

School Alarm Systems London From Diamond Fire And Security (UK) Ltd.

With over three decades of experience providing installations for localauthorities, educational properties, and housing associations Diamond Fire And Security (UK) Ltd. is the ideal choice for schools located in London, Bedford, Bedfordshire, or Milton Keynes. We can provide a range of systems including both conventional andsophisticated fire alarms and all of our installations are guaranteed parts and labour for Two Years.

If you would like to make an enquiry or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch and speak to a member of staff. You can contact us by calling 01234 825018, or you can contact us by email by sending any questions you have to us at


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Tel:+01234 825018