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THE NEED FOR A FIRE ALARM SYSTEM

(as defined in BS 5839-1:2002)

The need for a fire alarm system in any specific building will normally be determined by the authority responsible for enforcing fire safety legislation in that building and / or by a fire risk assessment carried out by the owner, landlord, occupier(s) or employer(s), as appropriate. In general, it is appropriate to install some sort of fire alarm system in virtually all buildings, other than very small premises that are relatively open planned so that any fire will be quickly detected by the occupants, who will be able to warn others by word of mouth or by simple mechanical devices such as hand-operated bells. Manual fire alarm systems are often sufficient to satisfy legislation in workplaces in which no one sleeps. Automatic fire detection is usually required by legislation to supplement the manual system in premises in which people sleep. Automatic fire detection might also be necessary to satisfy legislation under the following circumstances:

A) Where automatic fire detection forms part of the engineering solution;

B) Where fire protection systems, such as door closing facilities or smoke control system, are to be operated automatically in the event of fire;

C) Where the low level of occupancy of a building, or part of a building is such as to create the potential for fire to prejudice means of escape by the occupants before they are aware of the fire.

CATEGORIES OF SYSTEMS

BS 5839:2002 is the relevant British Standard for Fire Alarm Systems in buildings. Fire Alarms are graded depending on the perceived risk to occupants of the premises. A simplified broad outline to the specific requirements and categories is shown below and should be regarded as a guide only.

Category M Systems

Manually operated No Automatic Detection Devices)

Category L Systems

Automatic Fire Detection Systems which are intended for the protection of life.They are subdivided as follows:

L1 Fire Detection Devices throughout the whole area.

L2 Fire Detection Devices in defined parts of buildings.

L3 Designed to give an early warning to allow occupants to escape before becoming impassable due to fire, smoke or toxic gases.

L4 Fire Detection Devices in escape routes, corridors, stairwells etc.

L5 Systems designed to satisfy a specific fire safety objective.

Category P Systems

Systems designed for the protection of property.

ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

It is recommended in accordance with BS5839 that routine inspection and maintenance procedures are carried out as follows;

FIRE ALARM SYSTEM INSPECTION PROCEDURES

ALL testing and any other events must be recorded in the System Log Book.

DAILY INSPECTION Check the Mains Indicator is lit. Check no other lights are lit or sounders operating. Notify any faults to the installation company.

WEEKLY TEST Turn the key switch/enter code (or follow control panel manufactures instructions) to ARM CONTROLS and press RESET. Check that the WARNING BEEPER sounds. Operate a call point or sensor to test the fire alarm. Check that the alarm sounders operate. Reset the system by pressing SILENCE and then RESET. Each week test a different call point so that all call points and sensors are tested in rotation. Check all call points and sensors and verify that none is obstructed in any way.

QUARTERLY TEST Check all previous Log Book entries and verify that remedial action has been taken. Visually inspect the batteries and their connections. Test the fire alarm as in the weekly test above. Remove the mains supply and check that the batteries are capable of supplying the alarm sounders.

ANNUAL TEST As for the weekly and quarterly tests but check every detector, call point, sounder and all auxiliary equipment for correct operation.

EVERY 2-3 YEARS Clean the smoke detectors to ensure correct operation and freedom from false alarms.

EVERY 4 YEARS Replace Sealed Lead Acid Batteries.

It is recommended in accordance with BS5839 that as an absolute minimum, the annual test be carried out and be certified by a competent Fire Alarm servicing organisation.

FIRE RISK ASSESSMENTS

IT IS A STATUTORY REQUIREMENT THAT A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT IS CARRIED OUT IN ALL PLACES OF WORK AND PROPERTIES WITH MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF PERSONS WITHIN THE PREMISES.

It is normally the responsibility of the occupier or in some cases, the person or organisation responsible for the management of the premises to ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and recorded. Failure to do so could result in a prosecution which in the event of a death could lead to a charge of manslaughter or corporate manslaughter where appropriate.

For smaller premises without special risks an assessment need not be too difficult, just common sense. For example:

Identify potential sources of fire.

Take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of fire from those sources and the risk to workers who might become trapped in the event of such a fire.

Ensure that flammable liquids and substances are properly stored with warning signs where appropriate.

Ensure that there are adequate escape routes.

Ensure escape routes are clearly marked as appropriate and not obstructed in any way.

Ensure that any Fire Escape Doors are working properly and are not locked.

Ensure that any Fire Break Doors close properly and are not wedged open.

Ensure any signage complies with requirements.

Assess the requirement for and the type of Fire Extinguisher.

Ensure that Fire Extinguishers are in good working order.

Assess the need for a Fire Alarm to assist in the safe evacuation of the premises.

Where a Fire Alarm is fitted, ensure that it is properly tested and maintained.

Set out procedures to be followed in the event of fire. Identify and sign assembly points where appropriate.Make sure that everyone is aware of those procedures.

Record your findings.

 



BE AWARE

Prosecutions and and penalties for failing to comply with the Fire Regulatory Reform Act are on the increase. In many cases they have lead to business closures due to their inability to pay the large amounts they have been ordered to pay.

IT IS STATUTORY REQUIREMENT THAT A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT IS CARRIED OUT IN ALL PLACES OF WORK AND PROPERTIES WITH MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF PERSONS WITHIN THE PREMISES. WHERE THEIR ARE FIVE OR MORE EMPLOYEES A WRITTEN RECORD SHOULD BE KEPT. HOWEVER, IT IS WORTH FOLLOWING THE PROCEDURE TO BE ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN THE RISK OF FIRE AND THE SAFETY OF YOUR EMPLOYEES SERIOUSLY AND PROVIDE PROOF IN THE EVENT OF AN INCIDENT.

It is normally the responsibility of the occupier or in some cases, the person or organisation responsible for the management of the premises to ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and recorded. Failure to do so could result in a prosecution which in the event of a death could lead to a charge of manslaughter or corporate manslaughter where appropriate.

For smaller premises without special risks an assessment need not be too difficult, just common sense.

Any Fire Alarm System must be maintained and certified to comply with the recommendations of BS 5839:2002.

Most Fire Alarm Systems are for the protection of life which is why the penalties for non-compliance can be very severe.

It is essential that all escape routes are clear and that fire doors are working properly and not locked when the premises are occupied.

Remember, a snap inspection or a report following a fire could lead to a prosecution or even a closing down order. A death as a result of a fire could lead to a charge of manslaughter or corporate manslaughter.


Fire Alarms

We Install and Maintain Fire Alarm Systems to comply with BS 5839 2002 in commercial premises and premises with multiple occupancy.

All installations are fully certified and include the provision of a log book.


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