Weekly Fire Alarm Testing
To monitor and ensure your fire alarm is operational in the event of a fire emergency a weekly fire alarm test is required.
Testing your fire alarm is a simple procedure and should be carried out weekly.
To most people, the fire alarm panel is an electrical box on the wall, and nobody takes much notice of it, until it is activated. I have visited some buildings whereby the person trained as the Fire Warden does not know where the fire alarm panel is located, or taken me to the intruder panel.
In some buildings, the only time the fire alarm is checked to confirm it is working, is when the fire alarm engineer carries out his fire alarm servicing visit. This visit may be anything from every three months to every six months, depending on the fire alarm maintenance contract that is in place.
However, checking whether the fire alarm is operational is important as the purpose of the fire alarm is to detect a fire at an early stage and evacuate the building quickly, hence giving people as much time as possible to escape the threat of fire.
The person/s responsible for the fire alarm should check if the power light is illuminated whenever they pass the fire alarm control panel. The standards state this should be once a day. Being familiar with your fire alarm panel is important and one way to achieve this is weekly fire alarm testing.
Fire alarm testing should be carried out weekly.
The Fire Alarm is one of the main components in the fire defense strategy of any building. Furthermore, it is usually the first part of the fire protection system that will detect the presence of a fire. Not only does it carry out its primary role of alerting the occupants in the event of fire, but it also prepares the building for a fire emergency, such as closing any fire doors to keep fire compartmentation, calling the Fire and Rescue services, closing gas valves, operating smoke extract systems, return lifts to the ground floor, etc.
However, to make sure the system works in such an emergency, fire alarm testing on a weekly basis and the in-depth fire alarm testing known quarterly or six monthly inspection, needs to be carried out and documented.
What is the procedure to carry out Your Fire Alarm Weekly Test?
So what’s involved in carrying out this test?
Well, it is straight forward.
- Liaise with all personnel in the building informing them when you plan to carry out the test.
- Try and carry out the test at the same time every week.
- Ensure that if the fire alarm is connected to an ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre), you call the ARC and put the system on “Test”.
- Make sure you have a manual call point reset key. This will be required to reset the manual call point after you have activated it.
- Go to a manual call point and activate it.
- Wait for the Sounders to start.
- Insert your manual call point reset key and reset the manual call point.
- Return back to the fire alarm control panel and confirm that the activated manual call point address and the zone are correct.
- If ok. Silence the Sounders and reset the fire alarm control panel.
- Record the test in the fire log book.
- Contact the ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre) and confirm they have received the fire signal and take the system off “test”.
It is as simple as that.
However, if you are too busy, do not have the time or not very good with electrical equipment, why not contact our office on 020 541 5646 or visit our website and complete the contact page. We offer a service to carry out the weekly test on your behalf, plus fire alarm maintenance.
Procedures for Testing
Isolate Output Relays
Many fire detection and fire alarm systems may have relay outputs, therefore, it may be a necessity to isolate these outputs when testing the system.
When testing, we would advise the following recommendations:
- At a set time during the week, preferably during the hours of normal working, a manual call point should be tested. The fire alarm control should confirm it is able to receive the fire alarm signal and on receipt of such a signal operate the Sounders. It is also important that during the test a signal is received by the alarm receiving centre or monitoring station. Confirmation that all Sounders have operated during the test is not required at this time.
- It is important that the monitoring centre is informed before any testing to enable them to place the system on test and to contact them on completion of the test to confirm receipt of the fire signal and to take the system off of test.
- Furthermore, it is important that the tester takes into account the recommendations provided by the manufacturer when testing a wireless fire alarm system and battery drain down if the Sounders are allowed to be activated for a long period of time.
- Occupants of the building should be informed when the weekly fire alarm will take place. The tester should ensure that the system is tested as per the agreed time. The occupants should report any low audibility issues.
- They may be situations that some staff work at hours that do not coincide with when the weekly test, if this is the case, an additional test should be to accommodate these workers.
- To ensure the system detection is tested evenly, a different call point should be tested each week.
- It is important that an agreed duration time for the activation of the Sounders is known to all the occupants of the building. Usually, the activation time is no more than one minute. In the unlikely event of a fire during the weekly test, the tester will still have a means to evacuate the building by prolonging the operation of the sounders for longer than the agreed test time.
Weekly Testing Common Mistakes
To assist with the procedural aspects of the test, let us highlight some common errors that the end user sometimes makes when carrying out this test.
Activation of the fire alarm can be from the front of the control panel using the evacuation button or by inserting a test key in a manual call point. The correct way is from the manual call point and NOT the evacuation test button from the front of the fire alarm control panel. The main reason for this is the output equipment such as fire doors, smoke vents, etc., will not operate from the front of the panel unless programmed. Furthermore, you will not have confirmed zone or text information.
Testing a manual call point, returning to the fire alarm control panel only to realize you do not have the access key or a code for the fire alarm panel.
Testing a manual call point at the location, for example, the call point under or adjacent to the fire alarm panel. Ideally, it is best to test a different manual call point each week.
After activating a manual call point with your test key, you forget to remove the test key and attempt to reset the fire alarm panel. You will find after you reset the fire alarm, it will go back into alarm after about 5 seconds.
You complete the required test, but forget to document; what manual call point was tested and its location. Documenting the test is important and provides the fire authorities and health and safety officials of written evidence that you have carried out the test in accordance with the fire legislation guidelines.
Fire Detection & Fire Alarm System Logbook
The regulatory reform fire safety order of 2005 which extends to non-domestic premises and the communal areas of houses in multiple occupation in England and Wales, charges the responsible person with the safety of everyone on the premises at any time, whether working, visiting, or sleeping there. This requires a comprehensive system of checking, maintaining and repairing all fire safety equipment on an ongoing and regular basis. All weekly fire alarm tests and maintenance must be recorded, as it is a legal requirement by virtue of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order, that the fire safety activities of the responsible person, or persons, can be audited by the relevant authorities at any time.
And this is where the fire system log book comes in. It is an essential repository in which all fire alarm maintenance, checks and repairs can be recorded and reviewed. And as such, it must remain on the premises at all times. Ideally, near the fire control panel. The logbook must be designed to meet the requirements of both BS5839 part one, and the RRFSO. Our fire alarm log book has all the features you need, including service and maintenance contract information, schedule of agreed variations, panel access codes, user responsibilities, weekly test reports for up to three years duration, advice for the end user on routine actions and false alarm management.