Fire Alarm Systems — Types of Fire Alarm Systems — System Design — Control of Indicating Panels — Detector Heads — Manual Call Points — Alarm Sounders — Power Units — Diversion Relays — Self Contained Fire Alarms — Wiring & Installation — Inspection & Servicing — Statutory Regulations
This information is provided for the general guidance of fire detection and fire alarm system users. As it is a summary, it omits much of the information included in BS5839 part 1. It is therefore not intended to be a replacement for the detailed recommendations included within British Standard.
Routine testing by the user
It is vital for a regular test to be undertaken to ensure that there has not been a major failure of the entire fire detection and fire alarm system that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Test a manual call point during working hours to cheek that the control panel and alarm sounders operate satisfactorily
Each week, a different manual call point should be tested
Voice alarm systems should be tested weekly in accordance with BS5839 Part 8. If the system is connected to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) for calling the fire brigade, it is very important that the ARC is notified before testing commences and when it is complete
Any automatically started generator used for the fire detection and fire alarm system should be tested
Any vented batteries used as a standby power supply for the fire detection and fire alarm system inspected
Inspection and Servicing by a competent person
The inspection and servicing should be undertaken by organisations with the appropriate competence. This can be assured by the use of organisations that are third party certificated, by a UKAS accredited certification body, specifically to carry out inspection and servicing of fire detection and fire alarm systems.
Periodic inspection and testing
The period between visits to undertake inspection and service should he based upon a risk assessment but the maximum period between visits should not exceed six months.
The log book should be inspected
A visual inspection should be made to check whether structural or occupancy changes have been made that require changes to the fire detection and fire alarm system.
False alarm records should be checked and relevant action taken if necessary
Batteries should be checked and tested
Control panel functions should be checked and tested
Fire alarm devices should be tested
Facilities for automatic transmission of alarm signals to an alarm receiving centre (ARC) should be checked after advising the ARC of the proposed actions
All fault indicators and circuits should be tested and checked
Printers should be tested
Other checks and tests recommended by the manufacturer should be carried out
Outstanding defects should be reported and the logbook completed and servicing certificate issued.
Quarterly inspection of vented batteries
Vented batteries should be examined by a person with relevant competence and should be topped up if necessary
Inspection and test of a system over a 12 month period
The switch mechanism of every manual call point should be tested
Every automatic fire detector should be examined and functionally tested. This includes, but is not limited to; smoke detectors, resettable heat detectors, optical beam smoke detectors, aspirating fire detection systems, carbon monoxide fire detectors and flame detectors
All fire alarm devices (both visual and audible) should be tested
Certain filament lamps should be replaced
Radio fire detection and fire alarm system signal strengths should be checked
Visual inspection of readily accessible cable fixings should be undertaken
The cause and effect programme should be checked
The standby power supply capacity should be checked
Other annual checks and tests recommended by the system component manufacturers should be undertaken
Outstanding defects should be reported and the servicing certificate issued.
The arrangements in the above section, inspection and servicing are intended to maintain the system in operation under normal circumstances. However, from time to time, the fire alarm system is likely to require non-routine attention, including special maintenance. Non-routine maintenance includes:
special inspection of an existing fire alarm system when a new servicing organization takes over servicing the system;
repair of faults or damage;
modification to take account of extensions, alterations, changes in occupancy or false alarms;
action to address an unacceptable rate of false alarms;
inspection and test of the system following a fire.
For instance recommendations on unacceptable rate of false alarms:
Any false alarm investigation and subsequent modifications to the system takes into account the guidance provided in BS5839. Any organisation undertaking false alarm investigations and related remedial work should be able to demonstrate their competence to undertake such work. This section contains comprehensive information on all aspects of limitation of false alarms.
The measures to limit false alarms are divided into eight groups:
Siting and selection of manual call points
Selection and siting of automatic fire detectors
Selection of system type
Protection against electromagnetic interference
Performance monitoring of newly commissioned systems
Regular servicing and maintenance
A policy has been devised by the Department of Communities and Local Government for Fire and Rescue Services which is Policies for Dealing with Unwanted Fire Signals from Automatic Fire Alarms.