How often should I be getting my fire detection system and alarms serviced?
As a business owner, you know that you have to have working fire alarms installed. It’s a legal obligation for almost every UK business. But once you’ve got them installed, what then? Do they just look after themselves, or do you need to be a bit more proactive?
Fire Alarm System Maintenance: Know Your Obligations
Why is fire alarm system maintenance necessary?
Your fire alarm system is your first line of defence against injury and property loss in the event of a fire. And with around 22,000 workplace fires occurring in the UK annually, it’s really important that you ensure that your business and your employees are protected.
Contemporary fire alarm systems are highly technical. But if you own a computer or a smartphone, you’ll understand that even the most advanced technological systems can be prone to failure. Regular maintenance is essential to ensure that any faults are identified and addressed. And to make certain that any changes made to the building since installation do not impact the efficacy of the alarm system. This is not only to guarantee legal compliance. But to safeguard the people who use the building.
As well as protecting your property and people, fire alarm system maintenance is necessary to prevent false alarms. In the year ending June 2020, fire and rescue services attended 231,510 false fire alarms in England alone. In London, false fire alarms cost the fire service around £37 million each year. And put those who are genuinely in need at risk.
What are the laws around fire alarm system maintenance?
To comply with British Standard BS 5839-1, you will need to ensure that your fire detection and alarm systems are serviced at least every six months. Servicing needs to be carried out by a competent provider. Ideally, someone who is BAFE registered (British Approvals For Fire Equipment).
For businesses with larger premises or more complex needs and fire alarm systems, it is recommended that servicing happens quarterly.
Can I maintain my fire alarm myself?
To be fully compliant, you need to have your six monthly or quarterly fire alarm system servicing conducted by a competent person. This usually means a qualified engineer, who is BAFE registered. But you can – and should – be testing your fire alarm on a weekly basis. This will help you to detect any problems before they become a threat.
What can go wrong with a fire alarm system?
If well-maintained, fire alarm systems can last for years. Keeping buildings and occupants safely protected. But there are issues that can lead to system failure. These include:
External damage – Whether it’s contractors inadvertently damaging the electrics or sensors, or a water leak damaging the motherboard, there are various issues that can impact the performance of your fire alarm system. And if they go undetected, they could prevent your fire alarm from sounding when it is needed.
User error – Fire alarms can be complicated if you haven’t been trained to use one. It’s easy to miss a system error if you don’t know what you’re looking for. And it’s been known for programming errors to accidentally occur. In the course of fire alarm system maintenance, your service engineer will be able to identify any such errors. And correct them.
Vandalism and accident – It’s sad to think that someone might deliberately seek to vandalise a fire alarm system. But it happens. Depending on the location of the equipment, it is also possible for elements to be accidentally damaged, and for the person responsible to be totally unaware. If regular servicing is not performed, these issues can lead to system failure.
What do you need to know about fire alarm testing?
The Fire Industry Association recently reported that a third of UK businesses are failing to test their fire alarms on a regular basis. This is also a matter of legislation. To ensure that your fire alarm system is working fully, all businesses need to test their fire alarms on a weekly basis. Fire alarm testing is usually carried out in-house by a fire marshal, manager, or other responsible people. Each test should be recorded in your company’s fire safety log book. And any errors detected should be acted upon appropriately. This usually means reporting the issue to your fire alarm servicing company.
If you operate a business in the UK, you will almost definitely be required to have a fire alarm system in place.
The only exceptions relate to very small premises, where no overt fire hazards, such as flammable chemicals, are deployed. And where all business takes place in a single, ground floor room, where all employees would be able to hear a shout of ‘fire’ in the event of an emergency. For all other business types, a fire alarm system is obligatory.The onus is on you, as the person responsible for the safe running of the business, to ensure that any fire alarm systems installed on site are in good working order, and regularly maintained.
1st Class Fire Protection is an industry-leading fire protection company serving customers throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, and the surrounding areas of Cambridgeshire. If you are looking for fire safety advice, or want to discuss your fire alarm system maintenance, then get in touch today. Our experienced team of engineers can help your business stay protected.