As you might expect, there is a wide range of regulations and standards relating to fire safety. One of the most important of these is BS 5839 which relates to fire detection and alarm systems for buildings.
Explaining British Standard BS 5839
While fire alarm regulations are covered under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005, additional recommendations backed by the Government state that all alarms should be installed in accordance with British Standard BS 5839. This includes both domestic and non-domestic properties. The standard defines the design, installation, maintenance and commissioning of fire detection systems and is split into nine parts.
Type of Fire Detection System
The vast majority of businesses must have a suitable fire detection system installed on their property by law. It is important to have a fire risk assessment to determine what the major challenges are for your business and therefore, which fire detection system is the most appropriate.
The legislation doesn’t stipulate what type of alarm system you should have installed. There are options for:
- Conventional fire alarms: Suitable for smaller businesses or premises where the risk of fire is low.
- Addressable fire alarms: Suitable for large premises such as large office complexes, schools and hospitals.
- Wireless fire alarms: Suitable for properties that don’t want excessive wiring, including places of historic interest.
All fire alarms should meet BS 5839 for the category that they are in. If they do not, it’s possible you won’t be covered by your insurance or for regulatory purposes. You will also be putting people at risk.
Which Type of Fire Detection System Should You Install?
There are different categories and grades of fire detection system and it can be confusing. Much will depend on what your property is used for and its size. Grades run from A to F, with A being the most advanced. A domestic property, for example, will generally have a fire detection system that is rated D, E or F. A large or medium size office complex will usually have a grade A, B or C detection system.
There are also two categories of fire detection system: P and L.
P systems are there purely to protect property. L systems are in place to save lives. Again, these should conform to BS 5839, whether it’s a simple detection system or a more complicated voice alarm system.
Installing a Fire Detection System
The company or person installing your fire alarm system should be able to determine which grade and category you require and be able to design a system that meets your needs and complies with the conditions of BS 5839. That means your installer needs to understand the different types of alarms, the regulations that underpin installation and have the ability to implement the appropriate design and system.
Maintaining a Fire Detection System
While the regulations say that a fire alarm system should be maintained ‘adequately’, BS 5839 goes further. It recommends that a fire detection system should be serviced at least every 6 months. For much larger properties where the system is more complex, a quarterly inspection should be the norm.
In addition, businesses or organisations should be regularly testing their fire alarm system to ensure it works properly as well as ensure that all people within the building are aware of what the alarm sounds like and what to do in case it sounds. BS 5839 suggests that you should be doing this on a weekly basis and keep a record of it. If you test less than this and a fire does break out, or a spot check is carried out, you will need to explain why you did not follow the standard.
At FTS Safety Solutions our fire alarm engineers can conduct the initial fire risk assessment, advise and design a fire alarm system fit for purpose and regularly service and maintain your fire alarm system. If you have any further queries regarding fire alarm regulations, explaining British Standard BS 5839 or the ancillary services discussed in this article please call us on 0330 6600264 or email [email protected]
Until next time… stay safe!