Wondering what the rules and regulations are specifically for fire alarms in commercial buildings in the UK? There’s a lot of information out there and it can be confusing to know what’s what. We’ve put together a useful guide so you have all the information you need on UK fire alarm regulations in commercial buildings.
Is a Commercial Building Required to Have a Fire Alarm?
Legally, you are not required to have a fire alarm on your premises. However, current UK fire alarm regulations state that all business premises must have an ‘appropriate fire detection system’ in place. This means that if there is an event of a fire, there needs to be a system in place that will detect the fire and warn employees and those in and around the building easily.
According to the UK Government website, as an employer, you are known as the ‘responsible person’ and are fully responsible for the fire safety of the business. Installing a fire alarm is, therefore, an easy way to ensure the safety of your employees as well as knowing you are abiding by regulations.
What Type of Fire Alarm Does My Business Need?
The type of fire alarm you need depends on the type of commercial building. There are three main types which differentiate by their set-up and wiring:
- Conventional Fire Alarm – unable to identify which device is activated, but rather a floor or zone.
- Addressable Fire Alarm – ability to pin-point exactly which device is activated and where the fire is.
- Wireless (Radio) Fire Alarm – much like an addressable alarm but without wires.
Once decided on your type of fire alarm, its grade and category need establishing.
Grades are represented as letters (A to F, with A being the highest grade and F the lowest). This defines how the fire alarm system should be constructed. Businesses should have a graded system between A-C to comply with UK regulations.
There are two main categories of fire alarm system:
- Category P systems – which protect property.
- Category L systems – which protect life.
Under each category of system, a number is given ranging 1-5, which stipulates which areas of the building it should cover.
Feeling confused? Don’t worry. Your Fire Risk Assessment will determine and state which category standard your fire alarm system needs to meet for your site.
For more information on the different fire alarms available and the components of a system, read more here.
How Often Should Fire Alarms Be Tested in the Workplace?
The British Standard BS 5839 states that you should test your fire alarms weekly in the workplace to check that they are working properly.
Why Is Fire Alarm Testing Important?
Proper testing is vital in ensuring that your fire alarms are operating correctly. If you don’t check your alarms weekly or properly then you will only be able to identify an issue or fault in the system when it is too late. If you are not testing fire alarms properly, you will be violating the regulations and will have to explain this to any investigating fire officers who visit your premises.
As a business owner, you are responsible for the lives of your employees, so must carry out proper testing.
How Often Should Fire Alarms Be Serviced in the Workplace?
The UK Fire Alarm Regulations state that your fire alarm system must be ‘adequately maintained’. However, BS 5839 and the UK government recommends that a fire alarm system should be inspected by a ‘competent person’ at least every 6 months.
Why is Fire Alarm Servicing Important?
It is important to ensure proper servicing of your fire alarm system as it can have catastrophic effects if a fire occurs and your system is not working. By servicing your system, you are making sure that it is in good working condition and there are no faults.
A fault in the system can lead to loss of life and injury to individuals as well as cause false alarms for you and the fire brigade, leading to call-out costs.
Who Should Install and Service Fire Alarms?
Make sure to get your fire alarm system installed and serviced by a BAFE (British Approvals of Fire Equipment) accredited company. This ensures that they are working to the latest approved standards of fire protection, so you can have confidence that it is being installed and serviced to the appropriate standards, as supported by the Statutory bodies, the Fire and Rescue Services, Insurers and leading Certification and Trade Bodies.
BusinessWatch is a completely BAFE accredited company. Read more about our accreditations here.
Get in Touch
If you want to know more information or find out how we can help you improve your business’ fire alarm system, then get in touch on 0330 094 7404 or online for a free no-obligation quotation.