Under UK fire safety legislation, all workplaces and non-domestic properties must have adequate means for the detection and warning of fire. There are a plethora of fire alarm systems on the market many of which are tailored to specific scenarios.
Before choosing a fire alarm system it is important to consider the situation and circumstances.
In a small, open plan building, with low levels of ambient noise, and where all the exits can be easily seen, it may be appropriate to rely on the people in the building to detect the fire themselves and shout a warning to others to evacuate the building. In a more complex building with more than one floor and corridors, it would be more difficult to hear a verbal warning and it is possible that a fire could go undetected if it started on a different floor. In this case, the building would probably be better suited to an electrical fire alarm.
Alarm design, installation and commissioning
Designing a fire alarm system is a specialist job and should be done by a competent person. Many electrical contractors, following the design specification, will be able to install a fire alarm. Commissioning the alarm, once it is installed, should only be done by a competent fire alarm engineer. Once the alarm has been installed and commissioned, the buyer should receive three separate certificates to confirm each stage has been completed the alarm is working correctly.
Maintenance and testing
Discovering in the event of a fire that the fire alarm does not work is too late. It is essential that fire alarms are regularly tested and maintained. It is also important to keep a logbook with the dates and times of the tests, any faults with the alarm, tests and servicing records so that you can demonstrate that the alarm has been properly tested and maintained.
Professional advice and support
It is always worth seeking professional advice about the best type of fire alarm system for your specific needs. It can be all too easy to choose a complex alarm system with features that in reality aren’t needed, costing your business more to buy, install, maintain and test.