Fire Alarms – What are your responsibilities?
Fire Alarms – what are your responsibilities as the responsible person to maintain and test your system.
If you want more information on the technical specification or the legal side of testing your fire alarm you should refer to the British Standards BS5839 or the Regulatory Reform Oder 2005.
The responsible individual for the premises must carry out a weekly test of the buildings fire alarm system under the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 article 17. Please be advised; the weekly test is not a replacement for the service and maintenance that is to be carried out by a professional fire alarm company or a competent person but are in place to supplement them.
Your fire alarm company should be servicing your alarm no less than every six months. However, according to the size of the system and quantity of devices to be tested, the frequency of the maintenance visit can be increased to quarterly every three months or on large sites every month.
The responsible person does not have to carry out the test themselves; they can delegate the responsibility to a suitable individual such as a member of the maintenance staff to carry out the weekly test on their behalf. However, both the responsible person and the nominated individual must have the authority to sanction any work deemed necessary to keep the fire alarm operational.
It is also up to the responsible person to ensure that the fire alarm log book is kept up to date and the following events are recorded;
Dates and times of alarms
Genuine faults and tests and whatever cause were listed.
Dates, times of defects or faults. What action has been taken, who it was reported to and when? Dates of the test of the system, dates of servicing, dates and times of any disconnections and disablements and any changes that have been made to the system.
At Fire Systems Ltd, we provide all our clients with a fire alarm log book free of charge when they have their fire alarm maintained by us. This enables our clients to keep on top of their weekly checks and keep appropriate back data for their historical records. This is useful to help spot recurring faults with the alarm.
To carry out the weekly fire alarm test, it is advised that you do the following:
Test at least one of the manual call points connected to the fire alarm to check the ability of the equipment to send a signal to the panel.
Sound the alarm, and operate any other devices fitted to the system.
Things that you’re going to need to perform your test:
A call point key to reset the unit after it has been activated, any access codes to enter into the fire panel, the fire alarm log book, and access to turn the fire alarm offline with the monitoring company if it is monitored. You will need to do this before testing if you are monitored to avoid any calls to you. During the test, isolate the system if required prior to the test. If one fire alarm panel is networked to another, ensure that on alarm, all panels are activated. Ensure any access control doors that are released on fire open with the alarm when it is sounded. Ensure that any access control doors that are closed on fire are fully shut when the alarm is sounded. If a deaf message system is in place, check that a message was received. If you are the responsible person, please make sure you carry out these weekly tests without fail.
So many businesses and commercial sites neglect these tests as non-essential. But remember that the lives of everyone in your premises, and potentially around it, are dependent on your fire alarm for the appropriate warning in the event of a fire. As per government statistics, it can only take 30 seconds for a small flame to become completely out of control and turn into a major fire and smoke under fire conditions and can travel from between 120 to 420 feet per minute. These statistics mean that we can conclude that in the event of a fire, every second counts. A whole building can be engulfed in flames and smoke in minutes. So making sure your alarm gives you as early a warning as possible, and all doors open and shut as required on alarm, is vital. This will aid escape and minimize the likelihood of casualties.