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    Help and Advice Are Fire Alarms Mandatory in the Workplace?

    Are Fire Alarms Mandatory in the Workplace?

    Fire alarms in the workplace are subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It states that you, as a business, must make sure that the following is adhered to in regards to detection and alarms:

    ‘the premises are, to the extent that it is appropriate, equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms

    This means that, while the law doesn’t explicitly demand you install fire alarms in every business, they are all but mandatory to ensure lives are safeguarded. 

    The only situation in which you might argue against requiring a fire alarm system is if you have fewer than five members of staff, all working in the same small space where the alarm can be quickly and easily raised by shouting to each other due to proximity.

    The above scenario is relatively rare these days, especially for offices and other workplaces where employees are spread across large, open plan spaces, across multiple floors or even across multiple buildings. So let’s look at the importance of fire alarms, their grades and categories, and other important fire-alarm-related topics.

    Are fire alarms mandatory in the workplace


    Why fire alarms are important

    We’ve already covered how they’re important legally. As a business, you have a duty to meet fire safety regulations, but in truth, it should go beyond legalities for two main reasons:

    • To safeguard lives – Fire alarms are important in the early detection and warning of fires. This allows anyone in your building to evacuate safely and with plenty of time. Above all else, saving lives is the priority.
    • To prevent loss of business – A fire in your business can be devastating to your operations, but if it’s detected early it can hopefully be dealt with quickly either with an appropriate extinguisher or by the fire and rescue services. This can help limit damage and keep you in business.

    Fires can be caused by many things – sometimes accidental and sometimes due to negligence – but if you have an appropriate fire detection and alarm system, you give yourself a better chance of limiting the devastation they can cause.

    Grades and categories of fire alarms

    BS 5839-1 is the British Standard that categorises different fire alarm systems. These are designed to better plan which type of fire alarm system is most suitable for your workplace based on the building, the risk level and your operating practices.

    Fire alarm types
    • Category M – Manual fire alarm system – break-glass call points, no automatic detectors incorporated
    • Category L1 – Systems installed throughout all areas of the building
    • Category L2 – Systems installed in defined parts of the building only, including all parts necessary to satisfy the recommendations of the code for a Category L3 system
    • Category L3 – Systems designed to give warning of fire early enough, allowing all occupants to escape safely (with the possible exception of those in the room the fire originates in)
    • Category L4 – Systems installed within those parts of the escape routes comprising circulation areas and circulation spaces, such as corridors and stairways
    • Category L5 – Systems in which protected area(s) and/or the location of detectors are designed to satisfy specific fire safety objectives (other than that of a Category L1, L2, L3 or L4 system)
    • Category P1 – Automatic fire detection systems designed to protect the property – systems installed throughout all areas of the building
    • Category P2 – Automatic fire detection systems designed to protect the property – systems installed only in defined parts of the building

    Unsure which fire alarm system is right for your workplace? Contact us today and we’ll help you get the appropriate detection and alarm system for your building.


    The importance of fire assembly and fire call points in the workplace

    Manual break-glass call points are important because they allow for anyone to raise the alarm in your building when a fire is first detected. The earlier this can be done, the more time people have to leave the building in a calm and organised manner.

    A fire assembly point is important because it gives the people in your building a clear direction when evacuating the building. People can then congregate a safe distance from the building and designated fire wardens can take a register to establish that everyone has made it out of the building. In addition, it allows fire and rescue services to access the building and assess without worrying about people crowded close to the premises.


    The importance of fire risk assessments in the workplace

    A fire risk assessment should be carried out in every business to review and improve fire safety within the building. You should keep a written record of these findings if you have five or more employees.

    These are important because they help you to: 

    • identify the potential hazards
    • identify those at risk
    • evaluate, remove, reduce and protect against the risk

    Over time, you can review your fire risk assessment, having them carried out again periodically as well as when there are major changes to your building, the way you use it or the number of staff you have. 

    This will ensure you are doing your utmost to protect the people in your building and can highlight where you can improve. If you’d like to arrange a fire risk assessment for your building, don’t hesitate to contact our expert team today.


    The importance of fire evacuation plans in the workplace

    Having a fire alarm, fire assembly point and register is no use if you don’t have an evacuation plan. This plan should detail the nearest, most appropriate fire exits as well as details of how to evacuate anyone with mobility issues.

    In addition, you need to make this plan clear for everyone in your building. This can come in the form of staff training and fire drills (something we’ll touch on more in the next section), but also in the form of signage for anyone who is not familiar with the building, such as guests and visitors.


    The importance of staff fire safety training in the workplace

    The final piece of the puzzle when it comes to protecting people is staff training for those in your workplace. With an evacuation plan, the right alarm system and regular fire risk assessments, all you need to do now is prepare your staff for evacuation procedures and train them in the use of fire safety equipment.

    At City Fire Protection, we offer professional fire safety training courses so that you can establish greater confidence in your staff for dealing with emergencies involving fire. 

    You can learn more about workplace fire safety and get fire safety tips with our services, all available across Birmingham and London to help you meet legal obligations and keep people safe. Contact us today for more details or to get a quote for our services.

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