All business owners are required by law to protect their commercial properties and their staff when it comes to fire safety. But getting it right can be a confusing process. There are so many protocols and procedures to follow – especially around the installation and continued maintenance of your fire alarm system.
The code of practice that must be adhered to when installing your fire alarm system is the British Standard BS 5839. Under the Health and Safety Regulations, you are obligated to carry out regular services as a business or organisations.
Fire alarm systems are not all created equal and numerous different setups depend on what your requirements are – including the location, size and type of the premises and what they are used for. For smaller buildings with limited people working inside, conventional alarms may be satisfactory. But for more extensive setups, you might need to have a system with an electronic address, so that you can quickly identify the location of a fire. There are also some systems that connect to Wi-Fi. Fire alarm systems are categorised and fall into different grades.
Choosing and installing the appropriate set up for your needs is vital. So, you must seek advice from and have the installation completed by a code compliant professional. If you’re unsure as to whether you have the correct system installed, you can have the same professional carry out a fire risk assessment. They will be able to advise you if any changes need to be made.
The fire safety regulation only states that you should make every effort to adequately maintain your fire alarm system. A lot of companies believe that annual inspections are sufficient. However, BS 5839 suggests that these inspections should be carried out every six months. For larger properties with more complex systems, the recommendation is for quarterly inspections to take place.
Why does my fire alarm system need to be serviced?
The most important reason to make sure that you are up to date with your fire alarm maintenance is to ensure that they are in optimal working order, in case you should experience a fire at your commercial property. If a fire can be detected immediately, it can be tackled more easily and your building can be evacuated – keeping your staff safe. Fire spreads fast, so if it’s missed on breaking out – the consequences can be truly devastating.
The other reason to have your services completed regularly is to ensure that you do not suffer from malfunctions such as false alarms. These can come at a financial cost to the business if the fire service is called to a false alarm. And they also desensitize employees to the alarm, which would be dangerous if they fail to respond to a genuine alarm.
In addition to the annual, biannual or quarterly professional inspections of your fire alarm system, you should also carry out regular on-site tests.
How do I test my commercial fire alarm?
In addition to your professional service, you should carry out a spot test weekly. This is usually as simple as switching on your alarms to identify if there are any problems and having your staff practice your procedures for evacuation in the event of a fire. A member of staff should be designated as responsible for fire safety and ensure that these tests are carried out.
BS 5839 recommends that this is performed weekly and documented in an allocated fire logbook. Most businesses employ this routine. However, if for whatever reason you plan to perform fewer regular checks, you’ll need to provide a reason for this to the fire safety officers who may wish to visit your premises. If you spot a fault during your weekly tests, you need to call the company that services your system immediately.
To talk through your fire system installation and maintenance requirements, get in touch with us at Swift Fire Safety on 01733 60295