In the UK, commercial & industrial fire alarm regulations can be confusing if you’re not an informed professional. So we have tried to simplify it bring you up to speed with the latest legislation.
The Regulatory Reform or Fire Safety Order 2005 (RRO) forms the fire regulations. Also recommended by the UK government is all detection systems and fire alarms, which have been installed should be maintained accordingly complying with BS 5838 of the BS Standards.
Even though all necessary literature regarding the rules regulations and standards are ready available there is still confusion regarding the précises legislation allowed.
Common frequently asked questions:
Q1. Do I really need a fire alarm?
Current regulations here in the UK require all business properties to have a fire detection system suitable for their premises so if there is a fire outbreak it can be detected immediately and all workers and occupants of the building be notified to vacate the building by the nearest exit available. This legislation does not always mean that every business property will require a fire alarm system. There is a criteria of which if your business premises falls into you will not need one such as:
IF ONE OR MORE THAN ONE OF THE ABOVE STATEMENTS DO NOT APPLY TO YOUR PLACE OF BUSINESS PREMISES THEN YOU WILL MORE THAN LIKELY REQUIRE A FIRE ALARM SYSTEM.
If you’re unsure at all then you need to have a Fire Risk Assessment carried out, which is a part of your business safety plan, to identify all areas of risk and conclude if you need an automatic fire detection system or not.
Q2. What type of fire alarm do I get?
Currently on the market you can choose between three systems that are mainly used.
UK regulations & legislation does not specifically state an exact type of system that you must use in your building. You must decide which system is most suitable for your business and building needs. We can help you design and install a tailor made system to suit you and your building needs complying with BS 5839 specification requirements giving you piece of mind that your insurance remains valid at all times.
Q3. What are the different grades & categories of fire alarm systems?
Grades define the construction of the fire alarm system and the categories define the zones or areas of the building it covers. Grades – Start at A and finish at F. A is the highest top grade with F being the lowest grade at the bottom. The Lowest grade system is usually found in residential buildings starting at D to F. They are not wired via a central control panel and usually do not have a battery power backup system fitted. A business requires a more advanced system to conform to UK rules, regulations and legislation so they require a system grade from A to C. These higher-level systems are directly wired via a central panel fed by mains power and have a form of backup power supply.
Categories – This is split into two (P & L) systems:
The category and grade of a fire alarm system you require is determined on the layout, size, nature and infrastructure of your business and the size of the building. All information regarding the correct category and grade of the fire alarm system you require will be contained in your Fire Risk Assessment or we can help you design and install a tailor made system to suit you and your building needs complying with BS 5839 specification requirements giving you piece of mind that your insurance remains valid at all times.
Q4. Who can install my fire alarm system?
There is no legislation in the UK as to who is allowed to install a fire alarm system. The only stipulation is that they must be a competent person. With this in mind any person installing a fire alarm system must abide the following:
Q5. How often will my fire alarm need servicing?
The regulations here in the UK only require your system to be ‘adequately maintained’. Recommendations from the government and BS 5838 say that a competent person should carry out an inspection every six months.
To be safe if your business premise is on the large side it is advisable to carry out a service every three months so as to avoid one of the many components in your system from failing.
Q6. Why is the servicing important?
It is important to keep your fire alarm system in good working condition for two reasons:
Reason one is just obvious but the second reason is often overlooked but can cost a business a considerable amount of money over the year.
False alarms also cost money to the civil servant government bodies such as the fire brigade and police. It can take up valuable time and resources that could be required on a real emergency situation. Its also prudent to remember that if your business has a track record of false emergency call outs, the fire brigade will now levy charges against your business. So it’s a good idea all round to keep your system serviced and maintained.
Q7. Why do I have to do a weekly test on my fire alarm system?
When performing a weekly test it is very different from having it serviced. A service is a like an MOT for a car. It is thoroughly inspected to find fault in any way. A test performed weekly is like you checking the water and oil in your car. It’s a spot check to clarify its working ok and to single out any problems. It is a regulatory requirement necessity for buildings and premises that require them so weekly testing is vital and important.
This is stipulated in BS 5839 of the British Standards regulations set by government. If you do not comply with these regulations and got found out or caught you will be held liable and asked to explain your actions on an investigation from a fire officer.
Q8. How do I do a weekly test on my fire alarm system?
You can assign a ‘responsible person’ to perform a weekly test to your fire alarm system. Or, if you own a number of buildings containing fire alarms it may be prudent to assign a fire alarm company to this on your behalf. On each test the minimum required is for one fire alarm call point to be activated and confirm that the panel receives the activation and the alarm is set off. A different call point should be chosen each week.
When a successful test is completed just reset the fire alarm control panel and record the check and location of the test in the fire alarm logbook. However, if a problem arises immediately contact your chosen fire safety company.
Q9. What do I do if something goes wrong?
Things that can go wrong are:
In the event of any of the above happening you must notify your fire protection company immediately. They need to respond on site within 24 hours of you notifying them for minor faults and within 4 hours for a major fault. If a fault occurs the system cannot be considered as ‘adequately maintained’ making you and your business non compliant with current fire alarm regulations.
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We are based in Plymouth Devon so we cover the complete South West. We have a team of skilled electricians who are passionate about their work and have been doing it for over 15 years.
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Please feel free to call us for help or advice.
If you are interested in booking a survey for any of our services or just a safety check, please contact Acorn Electrical & Mechanical (AEM) and a member of our team will be happy to help or advise you. CALL now on 01752 201077 or 07528 889733