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What are Your Fire Alarm Maintenance Legal Requirements?

fire alarm maintenance legal requirements

Guide To Your Fire Alarm Maintenance Legal Requirements

As a responsible business owner, you’re probably already well aware that you have certain obligations when it comes to fire safety. The problem is that fire alarm regulations for commercial properties aren’t always easy to understand. And while you might know that you’re obliged to have some form of fire detection and alarm system, getting to grips with the legal requirements of fire alarm maintenance might not be that straightforward.

So, what do you need to know if you want to keep your employees and property safe, and stay on the right side of the law?


Everything You Need to Know About Fire Alarm Maintenance Legal Requirements


What is the current UK legislation on commercial fire alarms?

You can find the full details of your fire safety obligations in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). But in brief, it amounts to the following.

  • If you employ more than five people who work on site, you must have some form of fire alarm system installed
  • Your fire alarm systems should be installed by a competent professional (ideally British Standard BS 5839 compliant and BAFE registered)
  • A professional fire alarms expert should inspect your alarm system every six months, and relevant maintenance and repairs made according to the service engineer’s recommendations
  • You should also keep a record of all fire alarm maintenance and servicing in your logbook
  • Additionally, businesses need to appoint a fire safety marshal, carry out regular fire risk assessments, ensure that staff understand all fire safety procedures, and conduct regular fire drills


Different Fire Alarm Types


What are the fire alarm maintenance legal requirements?

According to BS 5839, commercial fire alarm systems should be inspected at least every 6 months. For larger premises where more complex systems may be utilised, quarterly inspections are recommended.

These inspections should be carried out by a competent fire safety professional. To be sure that your engineer has the requisite qualifications and experience, look for BAFE accreditation.


Additional requirements

As well as the six monthly or quarterly inspections, you should be testing your fire alarms on a weekly basis. This allows you to identify any potential problems – and take action – before they become a health and safety risk for your business. And don’t forget to document your alarm tests in your fire logbook. This can help protect you against potential repercussions should a fire break out.


Why do you need to maintain your fire alarm systems?


Aside from the legal requirements, fire alarm maintenance is necessary to protect your employees, your customers, and your assets.

Above and beyond anything else, fire alarms are there to save lives. And there is little point in installing them if you are not going to ensure that they remain functional. Fire alarm maintenance regulations are primarily there to safeguard people and property.

However, it’s also worth remembering that servicing your fire alarm can prevent errors, such as false call-outs, too. According to Home Office statistics, in England alone fire and rescue services attended around 226,000 false fire alarms in the year 2017/18. That’s 41% of total call-outs. Not only can that result in the not insignificant call-out cost being passed on to your business, but it could prevent genuine fires from being attended to. It also runs the real risk of desensitising your employees to fire alarms, which could prove dangerous further down the line.

And of course, every false fire alarm results in disruption for your business, loss of productivity, and potential loss of custom.


The different types of fire alarms and what they do


There is no legislation detailing which fire alarm system should be deployed in any particular setting. Your choice of system will come down to the requirements you identify when you carry out your fire risk assessment. For this reason, it can be a good idea to have your premises professionally assessed before you select your fire alarm type.

There are 3 main types of fire alarm system:

1. Conventional Fire Alarm

  • Most suitable for smaller spaces and lower risk properties, conventional fire alarms divide your premises into broad zones
  • These zones are monitored as a whole and if a fire breaks out, the alarm panel will identify the zone within the building itself


2. Addressable Fire Alarm

  • Designed for larger and higher risk premises, addressable fire alarms employ detection devices with individual electronic IDs – a bit like the IP address that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network
  • This means that if one of the devices triggers an alert, it allows you to identify exactly where the problem is. Not just which zone of your premises, but the precise location within that zone


3. Wireless Fire Alarm

  • One of the latest designs, wireless fire alarms can be installed without significant structural disruption
  • These systems perform in much the same way as addressable fire alarms, relaying precise information about alert locations. They just do it using wireless communication


Fire alarm categories

As well as the three main types of fire alarm, there are two different categories for you to select from.


Category P

Category Description of cover
P1 Detection is installed everywhere in the building, including voids in the construction.
P2 Detection is used only in certain areas to manage a particular fire risk


Category L

Category Description of cover
L5 Detection is only installed in areas where a particular fire risk needs to be controlled
L4 Detection is installed in circulation areas only, such as corridors and stairways
L3 Detection is installed in circulation areas and rooms which open onto circulation areas
L2 Detection is installed in circulation areas, rooms that open onto circulation areas, and additional high-risk areas
L1 Detection is installed in circulation areas and every room of the building including cupboards


Understanding your fire alarm maintenance legal requirements can be integral to the safety of your business. It can protect your employees, your customers, and your assets. But it’s also worth remembering that as a business owner, minor fire safety compliance breaches can cost you up to £5,000 in fines if you are caught out. For major breaches, you can face unlimited fines and up to two years in prison. It’s not a risk worth taking if you don’t have a compliant fire alarm system.


If you need support with your fire alarm system maintenance or you would like to book a professional service of your fire alarms systems then, 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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