Home » Blog » A guide to BS 5839 Part 1 : 2017

A guide to BS 5839 Part 1 : 2017

What is BS 5839 Part 1 : 2017?

BS 5839 Part 1 : 2017 is the code of practice as defined by British Standards which applies to the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire alarm systems in non-domestic premises.

Within the fire safety industry it is primarily acknowledged that BS 5839 Part 1:2017 is ‘the’ reference ‘bible’ used by companies and individuals who install and maintain fire alarm systems and equipment. Previously referenced as BS 5839 Part 1:2013, this standard was updated in 2017.

Although BS 5839 provides recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in and around commercial buildings, it does not recommend whether or not a fire detection and fire alarm system should be installed in any given premises.

How is the category of commercial fire alarm to be installed determined?

This is determined during the fire risk assessment, which will also specify the category of fire alarm system that should be installed in accordance with risks that may cause a fire, such as the type work being carried out in the premises or the flammability of materials being stored, and other factors that will increase the risk of loss of life or injury due to fire.  Other fire safety equipment and features to consider include manual call points, fire detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire blankets.

As a code of practice for design installation and maintenance, this British Standard takes the form of guidance and recommendations for fire protection. It should not be quoted as if it were a specification and particular care should be taken to ensure that claims of compliance are not misleading.

The RRO – Regulatory Reform Order

Compliance with fire safety regulations as set out in the RRO (Regulatory Reform Order) is only achieved by following a checklist of regular maintenance checks that are also clearly documented in a fire safety log book.

Some of these inspections include those that must be carried out by the ‘user’ which will normally fall under the remit of the ‘responsible individual’, and inspections and maintenance that must be completed by a ‘competent’ person, which is usually a trained engineer.

What is a Competent Person?

British Standards recommend that fire alarm installation and maintenance should be carried out by a competent person but does not go on to outline what competence means. At Tecserv UK we believe competence should be evidenced by holding third party accreditation such as being a BAFE approved contractor.

BAFE is the independent, Third Party Certification registration organisation for the fire protection industry. They are the registration body that develops schemes to support quality standards that companies like Tecserv must achieve in order to become third party certified.

Holding BAFE approved certification therefore independently acknowledges that the company has the required competencies to provide fire protection services.

How can Tecserv Help?

Whether you are a new business looking to establish its first fire safety policies and systems, or an established business seeking a new provider, Tecserv can help with all aspects of fire risk prevention and assessment. We can help you:

  • Develop and further improve your fire risk assessment procedures
  • Appoint and train Responsible Individuals
  • Provide ongoing fire safety training to ensure you satisfy the RRO Reform and all current legislation
  • Provide a BAFE qualified engineer to install, upgrade, repair and carry out maintenance of fire alarm systems.

Please remember that an officer from the emergency services can visit your site at any time to check that you are meeting fire safety compliance legislation and other building regulations. They will be particularly keen to ensure escape routes are kept clear and will want to check your record keeping to evidence that your fire alarm and smoke detection equipment is regularly inspected.

If you would like a free site survey to assess if your fire detection and alarm systems meet will keep your people, processes and property safe, please get in touch.


Mick Brooke

Mick has over 30 years experience working within the Fire and Security industry. Starting as an installation engineer and quickly progressing into both operational and sales management roles.

Posted on: 13 November 2018
Last updated: 5 March 2024
Posted in: Fire Systems
Author: Mick Brooke