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.
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.