A guide to the 'best' fire alarm systems for schools

August 13th, 2018

Strictly speaking, there is no best fire alarm systems for schools, or any commercial premises for that matter.

A commercial fire alarm system should be chosen as part of process that begins with a thorough fire risk assessment that should be conducted by an approved fire risk assessor.

The fire risk assessor will carry out a review of your school campus. This will identify any potential fire hazards including combustible materials, sources of heat, and any practices or process that could cause dangerous conditions that could result in fire. It will also review fire escape routes and signage.

In an educational establishment, the fire risk assessment would focus particular attention on science laboratories where chemicals may be stored. Gymnasiums where lots of rubber-based equipment may be stored, and kitchens where heat and naked flames may be used.

This will also include particular locations or individuals at risk. Children are particularly vulnerable. Therefore nursery, infants and special needs schools will need to give greater consideration to mobility issues.

In higher education and universities, greater consideration should be given to scenarios where perhaps pranks and drunkenness may cause a fire risk. A common occurrence in halls of residence is when fire detectors are activated by food that has been burnt, or where students have fallen asleep or gone out forgetting they have left food on the hob!

The best fire protection, ergo the best fire alarm systems for schools, is to minimise or reduce the risk entirely! But of course, this is not always possible. Therefore, it is a legal requirement to install a commercial fire alarm system and to ensure it is maintained regularly.

Based on the fire risk assessment, the fire risk assessor will now deliver a report and recommend the category of fire alarm that should be installed.

If a fire alarm system is already installed, the assessor may recommend improvements to both the system and the installation of further fire detection and fire-fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers. This is to ensure the right fire safety and protection equipment is located in all the right places.

The commercial fire alarm system will be specified according to the different categories of protection outlined within BS 5839-1:2017 as follows:

Property Protection

(Objective: To summon the fire brigade in the early stages of a fire)

 

Type P1: Property protection, automatic detection installed throughout the protected building

Type P2: Property protection, automatic detection in designated areas.

 

Life Protection

(Objective: To protect people from loss of life or injury)

 

Type M: Manual system (call points).

Type L5: Life safety generally when specific fire engineering solutions are used to resolve a problem.

Type L4: Life safety system, same as a manual system plus; smoke detection on escape route

Type L3: Life safety system, same as a manual system plus smoke detection on escape route and smoke detection in adjacent rooms.

Type L2: Life safety system, same as L3 but detection in fire hazard/risk of ignition i.e. kitchens, sleeping areas and other specified areas.

Type L1: Life safety system, same as Type M manual call points, plus detection installed throughout the premises.

 

Having been given a classification of commercial fire alarm to install, the next step in determining best fire alarm systems for schools will be to approach a fire alarm installation specialist, preferably one that is BAFE approved, like Tecserv UK.

The commercial fire alarm installation specialist will provide further advice on the fire alarm system manufacturer who can supply the category of commercial fire alarm system that has been specified, as well as appropriate fire detectors and extinguishers.

Tecserv UK has distributor agreements with most of the leading commercial fire alarm system manufacturers and can meet the specification requirements of most project upgrade, maintenance or new build briefs. We also have many ongoing maintenance contracts with many leading UK schools, colleges and Universities, helping ensure they comply with fire regulations and are able to protect pupils and staff from fire.

If your school requires an upgrade to its existing fire alarm, you would like to enquire about a fire alarm system maintenance contract, or you are involved in a new school build project and would like a quotation, please get in touch.