Fire detection and alarm systems are often taken for granted, and yet when they are needed in an emergency their effectiveness is a matter of life and death. Getting the best fire protection for your home, staff and premises is essential because a fire can result in significant losses.

Fire statistics show that 80% of businesses that suffer a significant fire fail within the following 12 months.

Don’t let a fire devastate your home or business take steps to protect now.

Q. What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO)?

A. The Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005 (FSO) came into force on 1 October 2006, and
replaced over 70 separate pieces of fire safety legislation. It gives responsibility to those who are best placed to address fire safety and ensure that risks – which necessarily change over time – are kept under review. Under the FSO a ‘responsible person’ (usually the owner, employer or occupier of business or industrial premises) must carry out a fire risk assessment. Responsible persons under the Order are required, following a risk assessment, to implement appropriate fire safety measures to minimise the risk to life from fire; and to keep the assessment up to date.

The purpose of the FSO is to simplify fire safety legislation and reduce the number of enforcing
authorities that businesses have to deal with. The FSO abolished the requirement for businesses to have a fire certificate and replaced it with a duty on a ‘responsible person’ (usually the owner, occupier or employer) to carry out a risk assessment and implement appropriate measures to minimise the risk to life and property from fire; and to keep the assessment up to date.

Q. Can I do the fire risk assessment myself?

A. You can do the assessment yourself with the help of GOV.UK standard fire risk assessment guides. If you don’t have the expertise or time please take a look at our Fire Risk Assessment Consultancy Page for more information.

There are five key steps in a fire safety risk assessment:

1. Identify fire hazards e.g. How could a fire start? What could burn?

2. Consider the people who may be a risk – e.g. employees, visitors to the premises, and anyone who may be particularly vulnerable such as children, the elderly and disabled people.

3. Evaluate and act-think about what you have found in steps 1 and 2 and remove and reduce any
risks to protect people and premises.

4. Record, plan and train – keep a record of what risks you identified and what actions you have
taken to reduce or remove them. Make a clear plan of how to prevent fires and, should a fire start, you will keep people safe. Make sure your staff know what to do in the event of a fire and if necessary that they are trained for their roles.

5. Review – regularly review your risk assessment to ensure it remains up to date and reflects changes that may have occurred. Your assessment should be a continuous process.

It is a good idea to keep a written record of what you find in your risk assessment. If you employ five or more people (including any who work part time), the law says you must keep a written record of significant findings. Keeping a record will save you time and effort when you come to review and update your fire risk assessment. It will also show that you have carried out a risk assessment if your premises are audited by the Fire and Rescue Service.

There are likely to be a range of prevention and protection measures possible in an individual premises and the FSO allows the responsible person to decide which would be most appropriate in the light of the premises and those who may be on them at any one time.

Q. I have a small business and I employ three people, do I actually need a fire alarm?

A. Whether or not you need a fire alarm depends on how easily people (employees, contractors, visitors) can be warned to react to a fire. It may be that a shouted warning or fire be ll may be sufficient.

All that’s needed is a system that works properly and adequately every time it’s needed to work.

Q. What do I need in relation to a Fire Alarm System?

A. Design, Installation and Commissioning – All fire alarm systems should be designed to comply with BS5839 to ensure that manual call points, automatic detectors and sounders are installed in the correct positions to give you adequate protection. There are two main different levels of detection that can be specified in fire alarm systems and these are further subdivided into categories, Life Protection and Property Protection.

Life Protection Categories

  • Category L1 system – Automatic fire detection is installed in all areas throughout the premises.
  • Category L2 system – Automatic fire detection is installed on all escape routes and rooms leading onto escape routes inclusive of additional areas deemed high risk.
  • Category L3 system – Automatic fire detection is installed on all escape routes and rooms leading onto escape routes. The difference between L3 and L2 is no provision of detection in additional high risk areas is included.
  • Category L4 system – Automatic fire detection is installed on escape routes only and not in the adjoining rooms as per the L2 and L3 classifications.
  • Category L5 System – Is a non-prescriptive system installed to protect areas to suit a specific fire risk objective.
  • Category M System – is a manual operation only system with no automatic detection

Property Protection

  • Category P1 – Automatic detection is installed throughout all areas
  • Category P2 – Automatic Fire Detection is installed only in defined areas
Q. I am always having problems with my Fire Alarm; my current provider has said “you’ll always have faults with a system this size and age”.

A. No matter the size, complexity or age of your fire alarm system, you should not have ongoing faults. Yes, faults occur, but these need to be addressed as and when they develop. A majority of faults originate from poorly installed, maintained or incorrectly located components. It is common to come across devices fitted that are not fit for purpose, using the wrong technology in the incorrect manner.

By instructing AWAlarms to carry out a bespoke amelioration plan, you can be comfortable in the
knowledge that the agreed works will be completed with a schedule of progress and clear financial forecast, allowing your business to operate unhindered, yet in the knowledge your responsibility’s are met. We can guarantee you not only financial savings but increased productivity and restored confidence in your fire safety systems.

Q. Do I need emergency lighting or escape lighting?

A. You may need both. Emergency lighting provides lighting during a power cut to prevent panic and to allow critical tasks to continue. Whereas escape lighting provides illumination on an escape route during a power cut, if its needed, i.e. if your business is open during the evenings or night or you have windowless corridors. Generally, emergency lighting is installed to satisfy the requirements for escape lighting.

Help, do I need my extinguishers serviced and how will I know if it’s done correctly?

A The British Standard BS 5306 is the approved code of practice governing your portable fire extinguishers. It is recommended that an annual service is carried out to ensure they operate when required. This enables you to comply fully with your legal requirements to provide a safe environment for your occupants, employees and the public.