The short answer is yes, an alarm bell can be mounted outside. However, to give a more detailed answer we need to dive into both the use case for the bell and the necessary accessory.
Quick Response Fire Supply offers three different size fire alarm bells: six inch, eight inch, and ten inch, in both 120-volt and 24-volt. While the bells are different sizes, the 120-volt and 24-volt bells share a similar mounting bracket. This is important because we offer a single weatherproof back box designed to protect the wiring from the elements that works across all six bells we offer. More on our back boxes in a moment.
The use case for your bell will determine if it can or should be mounted outside. If the bell is being used as part of a fire sprinkler system - notably, the intended use case for the bells sold here at QRFS.com - then it is very important that there is a bell or other horn/siren and it is mounted in the proper location. Per National Fire Protection Association Publication 13, "Waterflow alarm devices shall be listed for the service and so constructed and installed that any flow of water from a sprinkler system ... will result in an audible alarm on the premises within 5 minutes after such flow begins and until such flow stops." [2016 Edition: 6.8.1] Dig deeper and you'll find that the bell should be located either indoor or outdoor based on system design and need. The final say in bell type and location for a fire sprinkler system is up to the Authority Having Jurisdiction [AHJ] or building codes. These will vary by geographic location.
Bottom line, a bell mounted as part of a fire sprinkler system will have a specified location and that location can be outside.
We also have many customers who use our bells for reasons independent of a fire sprinkler system. For example, one customer wired an alarm bell to his business doorbell so staff in his noisy workshop would be able to hear when a visitor arrived. Another customer who was worried about burglars wired his alarm bell to a motion sensor in front of his garage a few hundred yards from his house. While the use cases vary, the ability to safely mount the alarm bell outside has been key.
So what's the trick? As mentioned earlier in this post, having a high quality, weatherproof alarm bell back box is key. Unlike other back boxes, ours are anti-corrosive and fully weatherproof due to a thick gasket that seals the wiring from Mother Nature worst. They feature a pre-cut opening through the bottom for conduit and wires and are fire engine red to match the bell.
Fire Alarm Bell Back Box from QRFS
Did you find this blog helpful? Do you have a unique use case for a fire alarm bell? Any horror stories about a bell mounted outside without a back box? Tell us about it in the comments below.