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Fire Alarm Regulations UK for Commercial Buildings

Jul 28, 2023 | Fire Alarms, Fire Safety

Fire Alarm Regulations UK

Everything You Need to Know About Fire Alarm Regulations (UK) for Commercial Buildings


If you are responsible for a commercial property, you are legally obliged to ensure that it complies with all current Fire Alarm Regulations (UK). But what are they? Legislation is often technical and confusing, so how can you be sure that your business fully complies?

This short guide will cover all the essential information that you really need to know.


Do I need to install a fire alarm in my commercial property?


Current UK legislation states that all commercial properties must have an ‘appropriate fire detection system’. While this does not directly state that a fire alarm should be installed, the inference is there. If you do not have a fire alarm in place, then you need to devise some other system of fire detection and a means of alerting anyone within the building in the event of a fire. And in all honesty, a fire alarm is probably easier!

As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees. And that includes making sure that any systems are implemented and abided by.


Are there any commercial property types that are exempt to fire alarm regulations (UK)?


Legally, there are exceptions to the rules. If you are operating within a small, open-plan, single storey property where a fire would be easily seen from any point, and a shout of ‘fire’ could be heard from all points, then an alarm system may not be legally required.

But if you are storing hazardous materials, or conducting potentially risky activities – welding, cooking, using flammable chemicals, you would still need a fire alert system in place. According to fire alarm regulations (UK), you are also obliged to have a fire detection and alert system in place if any vulnerable parties – anyone who requires mobility aids, for example – also use the premises.

All caveats aside, we would always recommend, for your safety, that a smoke alarm or heat alarm be installed in every area of your business that poses a potential fire risk.


What sort of fire alarm do I need for my business?


The type of premises you operate from dictates the type of fire alarm you need. There are two basic fire alarm categories (L systems, which protect life, and P systems which protect property). Within each of these alarm categories, you will find graded models, with the grades running from L1 to L5 and P1 to P2. These are the models that fire alarm regulations (UK) categorise as suitable for commercial properties. And there are three main fire alarm types within those categories (see below). Your Fire Risk Assessment will help you discover which alarm system is right for your premises.


Fire alarm types:

Conventional: These alarms process information via zones. So, while they can’t tell you exactly where a fire detector has been triggered, they can give you a rough idea.

Addressable: The addressable fire alarm system is a lot more accurate than the conventional, providing exact trigger location information.

Wireless: These systems are also able to deliver a high degree of accuracy. The only real difference is that it’s an unwired system.

Fire operation systems:

Lastly, you need to decide how you wish your fire alarm system to operate.

Ionisation: These detect small particles of smoke produced by fast flaming fires. Although they will activate for slow-burning fires, they’re less sensitive.

Optical: These alarms provide a faster response to larger particles of smoke produced by slow-burning fires. They will activate for fast flaming fires, but less promptly.

Heat Alarms: These alarms are insensitive to smoke, but are instead triggered by an increase in temperature. Their main drawback is that they only cover a small area, so more units will be required for a large building

Combined Optical Smoke and Heat Alarms: This form of alarm combines all three sensor types and is considered to be the most efficient.

Selecting the right fire alarm is a complicated process, and it can be difficult to work out exactly what you need for your business. If you need guidance within the Norfolk area, 1st Class Fire Protection can help.


Can I install my own fire alarm system?

If you want to ensure that your fire alarm system is fully functional, safe and complies with all UK fire alarm regulations, it should be installed by a BAFE (British Approvals of Fire Equipment) accredited company.


Do I need to do anything else?

Fire Alarm Regulations Testing System


Like any other safety system, your fire alarm system needs to be monitored and maintained. So:

Fire alarm testing

According to British Standard BS 5839, all commercial properties need to test their fire alarms weekly. This is important because it helps to ensure that your fire alarm system is fully operational should it ever be needed. Testing will allow you to identify any system faults, and keeps you compliant with Fire Alarm Regulations (UK).

If, in the event of a fire, your fire alarm system should fail, and you are found to have neglected testing and maintenance, you may face prosecution for any injury sustained by the people in your care.


Fire alarm servicing


Just like testing, the onus is on you, as an employer, to ensure that any fire alarms within your business are ‘adequately maintained’. The UK government recommends that service and maintenance is carried out at least every six months. It is advised that this work be completed by a professional BAFE accredited company.

The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, like the testing, you do not want to Fire Alarm Regulations Signbe responsible for causing injury or loss of life – or even the inconvenience of loss of business – through lax fire alarm maintenance.

Secondly, no one likes being called out of bed in the early hours to attend to a false fire alarm. And the attendant fees are pretty unpalatable too. Frequent false fire alarms also run the risk of desensitising staff members, which can put them at risk of harm if an alarm genuinely sounds.

Selecting the right fire protection for your business isn’t just about red tape and fire alarm regulations (UK) compliance. It’s about safety for your employees and customers. Peace of mind for you. And simply doing the right thing.


If you need support with fire safety for your business and would like a professional assessment to ensure your property is in full compliance with UK legislation, please get in touch with 1st Class Fire Protection today either on 01603 742741 or request a call back with our expert team.

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