Upgrading and Updating Fire Detection Systems in Churches & Cathedrals


Churches and cathedrals have been built across the world for centuries. Some churches in existence today are very grand, iconic structures that date back hundreds of years, some are fine examples of more modern architecture and some are buildings that have been built on a budget or repurposed into places of worship.

Dura-Europos church in Syria is believed to be the oldest surviving church building in the world and the newest is likely in its final stages of construction as you read this.

Unfortunately, whether they are new or old, all churches are at risk of fire and if a fire is to take hold patrons, artefacts and iconic architecture are all at risk of being destroyed.

The Fire Risks in Churches

There are many fire risks in churches and cathedrals; candles, renovation works, kitchen facilities, old wiring, lightning strikes – the list goes on. Sadly, churches and cathedrals are also at risk of arson and terror attacks.

Not only is there an abundance of potential ignition sources, but there are also large amounts of flammable materials: drapes; curtains; soft furnishings; wooden pews, beams and alters, all of which can easily ignite and help a fire spread rapidly throughout the building.

The Importance of an Up-to-Date, Reliable Fire Detection System

On 15th April 2019, a fire ripped through the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A structure fire broke out beneath the roof of the 12th-century cathedral and by the time it had been extinguished most of its roof had been destroyed and upper walls were severely damaged. Fortunately, extensive damage to the interior was stemmed by the cathedrals stone vaulted ceiling. Many of the buildings works of art and religious relics were saved but some were damaged or destroyed.

While the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, there is no evidence that it was a deliberate act. Instead, it is expected that the fire was caused by renovation work on the cathedral’s spire.

With the huge risk of fire, and severe consequences, that buildings like this face, it is essential that up-to-date, reliable and well-maintained fire detection is in place to preserve these historic and important buildings.

The Challenges

Given the age of many of this type of building, updating or upgrading a fire alarm can be difficult. There are certain aesthetics that must be preserved and in many cases, these buildings are listed structures and cannot be altered or damaged. This makes updating, upgrading or extending a fire alarm system a difficult exercise. Running new cabling is sometimes not a viable option, but how can we overcome this hurdle and ensure that our churches and cathedrals have a current and reliable fire detection solution?

What is the Solution?

By combining wireless and hardwired fire detection devices to form a hybrid fire detection system we can overcome the challenges presented but churches and cathedrals. Using a hybrid fire detection solution such as Wi-Fyre, wireless devices can be added to an existing hardwired fire detection system and thus, the system can be extended, repaired or upgraded without the need for installing new cabling.


Wi-Fyre uses a Wireless Transponder, installed into existing fire alarms wiring via a compatible interface, to communicate with wireless field devices. Each transponder can then communicate with up to 30 mixed wireless field devices such as wireless manual call points, wireless detectors, wireless sounders and wireless input/output devices.

Wi-Fyre has six user-selectable modes of operation for increased compatibility with a range of fire detection types:

  • Conventional
  • Addressable (Collective)
  • ProFyre 2-Wire Addressable
  • ProFyre Addressable
  • Standalone
  • Reflective

A Wi-Fyre Survey head is also available and must be used to ensure that the signal between the transponder and the connected device is strong enough for the system to operate efficiently.

For more information about Wi-Fyre, please feel free to give us a call on +44 (0)1329 835024 or email [email protected] where we would be happy to answer any questions.

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