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Choosing the right category and grade of commercial fire alarm

The standards as set out within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, otherwise known as the RRO, means that the type and grade of commercial fire alarm that must be installed in a commercial building is not open to choice.

It is a legal requirement that any commercial building in which more than five people work must have a working fire alarm. The type and grade of fire alarm is determined during an inspection of the building which is called a fire risk assessment. Usually, this assessment is carried out by a competent individual with formal qualifications.

Having carried out a thorough assessment of fire risk, the assessor will then recommend the type and grade of commercial fire alarm based on factors such as:

  • The type of commercial building e.g. What is built from
  • What materials are stored within the premises
  • Your business activities and operations
  • The level of risk that is posed by the above factors and any other factors that may affect fire safety within the local environment

What are the fire alarm categories?

There are different categories of protection as specified within BS 5839-1:2017. This is the British standard for fire alarm installation. The Tecserv UK website and our basic guide to fire alarms provides a detailed explanation of the different types of fire alarm systems. We have outlined below the different types of category of fire alarm which can be classified as follows:

Property Protection

The objective of this category is to sound an alert that summons 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

The objective of this category is to protect people from loss of life or injury.

  • Type M: Manual system. Break glass call points are installed which are broken manually when a fire is detected to alert people to leave a building
  • Type L5: Life safety generally when specific fire engineering solutions are used to resolve a problem. This is a bespoke solution and would normally be used for high risk or to protect business critical equipment such as IT server rooms.
  • 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.

By ensuring that you have carried out a fire risk assessment that is an accurate reflection of current business operations, ensuring the right category of fire alarm is installed, and regularly maintained you will minimise fire risk and help to protect people, processes and property.

Tecserv UK is a BAFE accredited fire safety company and trusted to install, maintain and monitor fire alarm systems by a wide range of leading brands and smaller owner managed businesses across the UK. If you would like help or advice 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: 11 November 2021
Last updated: 5 March 2024
Posted in: Advice, Fire Systems, News
Author: Mick Brooke