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Are Fire Alarms Mandatory in the Workplace?

Mar 1, 2024 | Fire Alarms, Fire Safety

Fire Alarms in the workplace

According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, all UK businesses must have some form of fire warning system. In most cases, that will take the shape of a fire alarm. Fire alarms are the safest and simplest forms of fire detection and protection, helping you to ensure that your employees, customers, and property are never put at unnecessary risk. But in order to ensure the maximum protection, you need to be certain that you have the right fire alarm system for your business. And that it is properly cared for. So, what do you need to know about fire alarms in the workplace?


Fire Alarms in the Workplace: Everything You Need to Know


Why workplace fire alarms are important


As well as being a legal requirement, fire alarms in the workplace are intended to save lives and property. And this is reflected by the two fire alarm system types. There are L (Life) systems and P (Property) systems. The first have been devised to give you as much time as possible to evacuate your building safely. The second are to help you address a fire as early as possible, and thus limit the damage to your building and its contents. Of course, in most cases, you’ll be wanting a fire alarm system that does both. So, before choosing the fire alarm system for your business, you’ll need to understand the categories of alarm within those types. And which one best suits your premises and your business type.


What are the different categories of workplace fire alarm system?


There are eight core fire alarm categories.

  • M – This is a manual fire alarm system based around break-glass call points. These have no automatic detectors. So, while useful, they are limited.
  • L1 – This stands for Maximum Life Protection, and these systems are usually installed throughout all areas of a building.
  • L2 – Additional Life Protection systems are typically installed in designated parts of a building only.
  • L3 – Termed Standard Life Protection, these systems are designed to provide enough warning for a whole building to be safely evacuated.
  • L4 – Modest Life Protection alarms are installed in escape routes, such as corridors and stairways, where there may be high circulation.
  • L5 – Localised Life Protection systems are designed to protect specific areas of a building in order to answer a particular fire safety concern.
  • P1 – This refers to the Maximum Property Protection fire alarm system. These are usually installed throughout a building to protect all areas.
  • P2 – And lastly, we have the Minimum Protection system, which, as the name implies, are only installed to protect specific parts of the building.

How do you know which type of fire alarm system is right for your workplace?

Your fire risk assessment will help you to work out which fire alarm systems you require for your building and business type. And this latter part matters because different business types hold different degrees of risk. A restaurant, where flammable oils are used on a regular basis, for example, may have a higher fire risk than a small retailer. If you are at all unsure about which fire alarm system is right for your business, it is always wise to seek professional advice.


It doesn’t stop with fire alarm installation

Getting the correct fire alarm installed is vital for all businesses. But it’s only the first step towards complete fire protection. To ensure that your business remains as safe as possible, there are other things you need to do.

Fire alarm testing

If you have a fire alarm installed, you are legally obliged to test it at least once every week. This will allow you to detect any faults and ensure that the system is fully operational should it ever be needed. As well as testing your fire alarm, you need to make sure that it is well maintained. And this involves having it serviced at least every six months.

Fire drills

Having fire alarms in the workplace is pointless if your team doesn’t know what to do when they sound. So, having designated fire assembly points, an evacuation plan, and regular fire drills is an essential part of your fire safety training. Drills not only provide clear guidance for your teams in the event of an emergency. But also familiarity, which can help to make a genuine fire event less frightening, and an evacuation more successful.

Fire risk assessments

We’ve already mentioned fire risk assessments, but as well as helping you to identify the correct fire safety systems needed for your workplace, your fire risk assessment should be used on a regular basis. It can help to identify new hazards. Provide a prompt list for reviewing equipment, such as fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Allow you to identify anyone at additional risk – has a staff member recently broken an arm, injured their back, or developed any health problems that may impact their safety in a fire? And, importantly, it enables you to address any problems and take a more proactive approach to fire safety.


Fire alarms in the workplace are designed to avoid loss. Helping to protect lives and property, they are an invaluable asset for any business. But they can’t provide full protection alone. To get the most from your fire alarm system you have to ensure that you have the right model for your business. Then you need to test it, maintain it, and build the correct infrastructure around it. That includes employee training, and hazard management. Keep these things in mind, and your workplace will have the best fire protection possible.


1st Class Fire Protection has been serving the businesses of Norfolk, Suffolk, and the surrounding areas for more than 25 years. Get in touch to discuss the fire alarm and fire safety needs of your business.


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