A lot of businesses are not testing their fire alarms as frequently or thoroughly as they should be. This is usually not a deliberate attempt to be negligent or cut corners, but because most people mistakenly believe that fires in the workplace are quite a rare occurrence.
When in fact the Fire and Rescue services in England attended 15,815 ‘primary fires’ in non-dwelling buildings in 2016/17 – that’s more than 300 work place fires a week! These incidents resulted in 17 fatalities and 892 non-fatal casualties.
To prevent your business premises from becoming part of these terribly sad statistics, it’s crucial that you maintain your fire alarms properly and test them regularly. Let us take you through what the fire testing regulations are and how frequently you should be carrying out tests.
Is a Fire Alarm a Legal Requirement for a UK Business?
There are different legal requirements for every country within the UK. Each country’s regulations offer a different level of protection, but the short answer is . . . yes. A fire alarm IS a legal requirement in every UK country.
For England and Wales, check the regulations under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
For Scotland, check the regulations under Part 3 of The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005
For Northern Ireland, check the regulations under The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010
If you are in control of a building, even as a business tenant, you are classified as a responsible person and you must ensure that you are adhering to the regulation in fire safety for your country. This will always mean that you must make sure there is a suitable system for detecting fires and warning the people in the building of them. You must also make sure that this system is tested regularly and in the correct way. Each fire alarm system will have a different testing procedure, so you will need to refer to the guidelines sent to you by the manufacturer of speak with the company that installed it for you. Once you get into regular testing, the procedure will become second nature to you.
How often should I test my fire alarm?
In England, it is a legal requirement that your fire detection system is fully inspected and serviced every 6 months. Fire alarm tests to ensure the system is working should be carried out weekly.
How to test a Fire Alarm
As previously mentioned, fire alarm systems will differ depending on the make, model and the type of building they protect. But in general, the procedure is usually carried out as follows:
- Inform all people in the building that a fire alarm test will be carried out imminently
- Check that the alarm control panel has a valid connection to the ARC (alarm receiving centre) and put it into ‘test’ mode
- Make sure you have the manual call point key with you, as you’ll need it to reset the system following the test
- Activate a manual call point, wait for the alarm sounders and use the key to reset it.
- Go back to the alarm control panel, check that the manual call point location is correct and then silence the alarm sounders
- Record the results of your fire alarm test in your fire logbook
- Contact the ARC and confirm that they received your fire signal
- Reset the alarm control panel and take it out of test mode
Swift Fire & Safety is one of the UK’s most responsive fire protection and security companies. We will ensure that your premises have a fully-functional alarm system that meets your specific needs and legal obligations.
Contact us today and let us help you keep your business and employees safe.