Fire Alarm Regulations for Commercial Buildings
Confused by the regulations for fire alarms? There are a number of key regulations that you need to be aware of if you operate commercial premises. ‘Commercial premises’ can be defined as any property which is not a private domestic dwelling and can include buildings such as:
- Retail premises
- Bars & Restaurants
- Tenanted properties
- Educational premises
- Factories & Warehouses
This month, at City Fire Protection, we’ll walk you through the regulations on fire alarm testing and sounders, but first, some more details about where the regulations come from.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, sometimes referred to as the RR(FS)O, covers fire safety for non-domestic premises, including ‘fire fighting and fire detection’ as per part 13 of the order. The order states that “to the extent that is appropriate” premises should be “equipped with… fire detectors and alarms”.
This does not mean all premises require a fire alarm, however, since due consideration should be given to the size and purpose of the space to determine whether a fire alarm is required. Often, if a space is small, open plan and can be evacuated swiftly by one person announcing a fire (due to there being very few people present), then it’s possible to do without a fire alarm. This scenario is rare, which is why it’s usually recommended you seek professional fire risk assessment for your property to best establish your requirements.
In addition to the RR(FS)O, there is BS 5839-1:2017, which covers planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance for fire detection and alarm systems. This is the British Standard, which acts as a national standard and is recognised as ‘best practice’ for fire alarm systems. The British Standard helps provide more prescriptive language to help you fulfil the legal obligations of the RR(FS)O.
Fire Alarm Testing Regulations
Fire alarm testing should be undertaken in two parts: non-maintenance testing by the user and UKAS accredited, third-party certified maintenance and servicing by professionals. Here are what those two elements should cover and how often they should be carried out.
In accordance with the British Standard, user testing should be carried out at a set time weekly, using the manual call point during working hours. If some employees are not usually present during the scheduled test, a further monthly test can be carried out at a different time. Where there are multiple manual call points, the user should test a different one each week to ensure they are all tested over time. When carrying out the test, it should last no longer than a minute.
There are also recommendations for monthly testing if you have an emergency generator or vented batteries for standby power supply.
BS 5839 recommends fire alarm systems are inspected at least every six months by a ‘competent person’, usually a specialist fire safety company such as City Fire Protection. This professional testing will cover factors including, but not limited to:
- Logbook inspection
- Visual call point inspections
- Visual inspection of detectors and other devices
- Inspection of any building changes (layout, alterations)
- Changes to use or occupancy levels
Failure to meet the six-month inspection quota means that your system will not be deemed compliant with British Standards, something which could cause issues if you are tasked with proving that your building meets required fire safety regulations.
Fire Alarm Installation & Maintenance Professionals
In order to ensure your building – whether it’s used for retail, as office space or for tenants – has a fire alarm which meets the regulations set out by the government and the relevant industry bodies, you will need specialist fire alarm services from a professional organisation.
This can help to save lives since a fully operational system will alert people to a fire at the earliest possible moment. Professional installation, along with regular fire alarm maintenance and inspection can also save you time and money, since it will mean fewer false alarms occur, thereby reducing unnecessary downtime for your business.
If you have an old alarm system in need of replacement, or you’ve recently acquired a commercial property and need a fire alarm fitting, City Fire Protection are on hand with a specialist team of engineers to help you ensure your building meets fire safety guidance and regulations. We’re SafeContractor and BAFE accredited, so you can trust that our work will help you meet relevant regulations and standards.
You can speak to our friendly team today over the phone to discuss fire alarm requirements for your building, or use our quick quote form to tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll be in touch quickly to answer your enquiry.