Fire Alarm Servicing: How often should you service your fire alarm?
Every workplace must have an adequate number of fire alarms installed to match the needs of the premises and keep everyone safe in case of a fire. If you are the owner of a business, to be able to prove that you have completed your legal duties as a responsible person, you must also have your fire alarms serviced regularly. Fire alarm servicing is done by a specialist engineer and it’s crucial to ensure that the fire alarm system is working properly for longer.
So, how often should you service your fire alarm? Read along to find out!
Fire Alarm Servicing & Maintenance Legal Requirements
When we talk about fire safety in commercial buildings, the British Standard BS 5839 (see our guide on BS 5839) is the place to look for guidelines. Designed by BSI – the UK national standards body, this document covers everything from planning and installation to the servicing and maintenance of your fire detection system at work.
The official UK fire alarm regulations require your fire alarm system to be ‘adequately maintained’. Admittedly, this is open to interpretation. However, the BS 5839 takes this further by specifying that it’s recommended to book a fire alarm service every 6 months.
Since BS 5839 is the standard recommended by the Government, the safest choice is to follow it and have bi-annual fire alarm servicing done by a fire safety engineer. This will help you prove that you have taken the necessary actions to achieve regulatory compliance if you are requested to do so by the authorities.
Why is fire alarm servicing important?
There are three main reasons why fire alarm servicing is important for you and your business: fire safety, regulatory compliance and false alarm prevention. Let’s look at each one in a little bit more detail!
- Fire Safety: First and foremost, fire alarm servicing ensures that your fire detection system is working as expected; this can save lives in the event of a fire
- Regulatory Compliance: If the relevant authorities come to inspect your business, regardless of whether there has been a fire incident at work or not, you must be able to prove that you have done everything you can to ensure adequate fire safety on the premises. Every time an engineer comes to do fire alarm servicing, this is documented and you can show the paperwork as evidence to support your compliance activities
- False Alarm Prevention: Regular maintenance reduces the risk of false alarms. Recurrent false alarms are a nuisance and cause interruptions to the workflow, reducing your team’s productivity, wasting time and in the end – costing your business money
What’s included in the fire alarm service & maintenance?
Fire alarm servicing must be done by a competent person – this is someone who has the necessary knowledge and training to understand how different alarm systems work and identify, as well as rectify issues with them. This is why maintenance should be done solely by experienced fire safety engineers who hold relevant qualification.
The fire alarm inspection will be done according to a detailed fire alarm maintenance checklist, which looks at all of the working components of the system, including call points, connections, batteries, detectors and signalling systems. The engineer will also look for any changes in the premises that could affect the performance of the fire alarm system and they will investigate the cause of any registered false alarms.
At the end of the inspection, the competent person will assess all their findings to decide whether the fire alarm system is fit for purpose or not. They will also give you a document listing the details of the inspection (date, time, name of the inspector), as well as all their findings and recommendations. You can use this as proof that you are following the regulatory guidelines recommended by the Government.
Bear in mind that if your building is considered high-risk, the engineer may also recommend that a fire alarm servicing and maintenance is done more frequently; usually, every four months instead of the general guideline of every six months.
What else is required for compliant fire alarm maintenance?
In addition to the bi-annual fire alarm servicing, your fire alarm maintenance practices should include weekly fire alarm tests and daily maintenance checks by the users. This is usually done by the appointed fire marshal at your workplace.
The daily fire alarm checks only include a quick visual inspection by the fire warden. They will look for things like visible damage, such as missing tags, broken glass and any other sign of tampering with the key components of the fire alarm system.
The weekly fire alarm tests should be a regular, scheduled activity that takes place every week on the same day and time. As part of the process, all manual call points should be checked to see if they work correctly and the fire alarm should be sounded to find out if it can be heard throughout the entire premises. The correct fire alarm testing procedure should be followed to ensure that the fire detection system works as intended in between the professional checks.
If the fire warden spots anything wrong with the fire alarm system, this should be reported immediately and you as the responsible person will have to address this by scheduling a fire alarm inspection even if it’s not due yet. This is why weekly fire alarm testing can change the frequency of service.
Need fire alarm servicing in the Midlands?
If your business is based in the West Midlands and your bi-annual fire alarm service is due or if you need help planning or installing a new fire alarm system, book your fire alarm servicing with Cardinal Fire – your Birmingham-based fire experts. We offer fire safety services to a variety of sectors including education, office, retail, leisure, construction and manufacturing. Our team will be happy to help you achieve regulatory compliance too!