Fire alarms save lives. When you rely on something to that degree, it is vital that you take steps to ensure it is ready to do its job should the need arise. It’s precisely why fire alarm servicing is so important. But just how often does a fire alarm need to be serviced?
Let’s take a look in more detail at the subject of fire alarm servicing so that you can be certain you are meeting your responsibilities to both the law, and the occupants of your premises.
Why is fire alarm servicing so important?
Fire alarms alert occupants in the event of a fire and in doing so can prevent loss of life. Every year in the UK there are almost 20,000 fires, so it is easy to see why having a fully functional fire alarm system is absolutely crucial.
Fire alarm servicing and legal obligations
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, all premises in England and Wales used for non-domestic purposes, with a small number of exceptions, must abide by these regulations.
Most commercial properties will require a fire alarm system under the Regulations, with the exception of smaller premises that do not store high-risk substances, where it is easy to see a fire developing and where a shout of ‘fire’ would be heard by all occupants. Higher risk businesses, however, (e.g. restaurants), are well-advised to install alarms as an additional safeguard.
The Regulations provide that every effort is made to ensure a fire alarm system is suitably maintained in good working order; that it is regularly tested; that the person undertaking the testing and maintenance is competent and, in some cases, that the person is certified and approved to industry standards.
Fire alarm servicing is also an obligation for employers under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
Fire alarm servicing to prevent false alarms
Further to legal obligations, fire alarm servicing is important in order to prevent false alarms. Back in 2014, the problem of false alarms got so bad that the London Fire Brigade launched a charging scheme to start recovering costs from buildings, such as airports and hospitals, with a poor false alarm record.
At the time, it was estimated that false alarms were costing the Brigade around £37 million each year! Aside from this major costs issue, false alarms also prevent the Fire Brigade from attending true emergencies.
How often should a fire alarm be serviced?
British Standard BS 5839, under which fire alarm systems must be compliant, suggests that fire alarms undergo inspection by a competent person at least every six months.
This recommendation is amplified for larger premises with multiple alarms and complex systems, with the suggestion increasing to quarterly fire alarm servicing.
What else should I be doing to make sure my fire alarm is in full working order?
Weekly testing of a fire alarm system is also recommended by British Standard BS 5389, which is the standard the UK government recommends to follow. If you decide not to follow weekly testing, then you will need to explain your reasons to any investigating fire officers who may visit your premises.
Fire alarm testing differs from fire alarm servicing. A service will involve a comprehensive check of the entire fire alarm system, whilst weekly testing aims to check that the fire alarm is in working order.
What does weekly fire alarm testing involve?
The task is usually carried out by the company’s responsible person, although if your premises are very large or you have multiple sites, then you may ask your fire alarm servicing company to undertake the tests for you.
Each test should involve activating a minimum of one fire alarm call point, checking that the alarm sounds and the panel receives the signal. A different call point should be checked every week.
The test should be documented in the fire log book and any problems reported to your fire alarm servicing company immediately.
What if I find something wrong with my fire alarm?
Issues do sometimes arise with fire alarms. Some of the most common include:
- The fire alarm panel displays a fault
- The fire alarm panel is making a sound
- There is no power going to the fire alarm panel
- An alarm is sounding but there is no fire
Such issues mean that your fire alarm system is not suitably maintained, so they must be reported to your fire alarm servicing company without delay. They should attend within at least 24 hours, or within 4 hours if the alarm has been disabled.
Professional Fire Alarm Servicing from IQ Fire Solutions
At IQ Fire Solutions, our specialist engineers are fully qualified to British Standard BS 5839 and have many years’ experience. We offer a proactive service, geared towards maximising the lifespan of your fire alarm system and reducing unnecessary costs. With our helpful approach and competitive rates, you and your premises are in safe hands with IQ Fire Solutions.