According to the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) it is a legal requirement that all businesses that employ more than five people have a fire alarm installed on their commercial premises.
The type of fire alarm will be determined by the fire risk assessment which must be carried out by a competent individual. There is currently no definition of ‘competent’ but at Tecserv UK we recommend this is a company which has a third party accreditation such as BAFE.
Company directors and anyone nominated as being responsible for fire safety have a legal responsibility to ensure the fire alarm system and equipment works and is regularly maintained. This includes ensuring that a record log is kept of inspections and any remedial works.
As the business activities carried out in a commercial building can vary, the key challenge from a fire risk perspective is to ensure the right class of fire alarm is specified and installed. It is also important to ensure the fire detection devices are appropriate for the environment and positioned such that they will accurately signal real indicators of a fire.
In a commercial environment, each building will present a variety of fire risks and therefore the detectors need to be able to sense all the potential indicators of a real fire risk according to that particular environment.
These indicators include smoke, heat, gas, air changes and flame. In some environments, it can be very tricky to ensure the fire alarm detectors are not at risk of being triggered by false indicators such as dust particles, mist from shower cubicles or heat from kitchens.
Similarly, in larger environments such as warehouses and storage facilities, there may a lot of nearby vehicle movements emitting exhaust smoke, shutter doors being constantly opened and closed, and large roof voids. These factors can cause difficulties setting the fire alarm and sensors so that it is triggered by the indicators of a real fire and therefore avoiding the cost and inconvenience of false alarm activations.
It is therefore all the more important to ensure the right systems installed and maintained by expert engineers with knowledge of the system installed, who are experienced in maintaining fire alarm systems in commercial environments.