Fire alarm regulations state that all business premises must have ‘an appropriate fire detection system’.
Essentially, you need a detection system in place that allows everyone to be warned so they can quickly and safely exit the building.
Do I need a Fire Alarm?
You are unlikely to need a fire alarm system if all of the following statements are true:
- Your premises are small, single-storey
- You don’t store any high-risk substances
- You don’t undertake any high-risk activities, such as cooking
- You don’t have any vulnerable occupants, such as the very young, elderly or disabled
- A fire would be easily spotted if it broke out anywhere in the premises
- A shout of ‘fire!’ would be easily heard by all occupants
If one or more of these statements does not apply to your business, then you probably need a fire alarm system.
What type of Fire Alarm do I need?
UK Fire Alarm regulations don’t specify the exact type of fire alarm you should have, it should just be ‘appropriate’ for your business.
With that in mind, there are three main types of fire alarms that are used in businesses:
Conventional Fire Alarms
Conventional Fire Alarms works on zones, so it divides your business area into different areas. When a fire happens, the fire alarm panel will show you the zone but not the exact location.
Ideal for: Small businesses / Low-risk areas
Addressable Fire Alarm
The Addressable Fire Alarm tells you exactly where the fire is.
Each device has its own unique electronic address which then displays on the fire alarm panel.
Ideal for: Large business /High-risk areas. E.g. Schools, Hospitals
Wireless Fire Alarms
Wireless Fire Alarms operates like the addressable fire alarm system, just without the wires.
It uses a wireless link between the fire alarm panel and its sensors.
Ideal for: Businesses that don’t want a lot of cabling used. E.g. Churches.
How often should a Fire Alarm be serviced
UK fire alarm regulations state that your fire alarm system must be ‘adequately maintained’ but fails to mention a specific time frame to service your fire alarm.
BS 5839 has been more specific and recommends that your fire alarms system should be inspected at least every 6 months.
Why is Fire Alarm servicing important?
The main reason for keeping your fire alarm operating efficiently is to ensure that it will be able to notify all of the occupants in the case of a fire to prevent any loss of life.
Another reason is to prevent false alarm; this is due to the expense of the fire service attending a false-alarm as well as it will stop them attending a real emergency.
In fact, the fire service now charges call-outs if there are a high number of false alarms so to stop this from happening and encourage businesses to keep the fire alarms well-maintained.
Do I have to test my Fire Alarm?
Simply put, yes. This is different from the aforementioned fire alarm servicing. You need to test the fire alarm, weekly to check that the fire alarm is in working order. Each week you should check at least one fire alarm contact point to check that the fire alarm panel receives the signal.
We also recommend that you keep a record of all of your weekly fire alarm tests so that you have the appropriate documentation to show to any fire officials.