According to the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) It is a legal requirement for all businesses that employ more than five people have a warehouse fire alarm installed on their commercial premises.
The type of warehouse 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.
The key challenge from a fire risk perspective is to ensure the right class of fire alarm is specified and installed according to the activities carried out and the goods stored in the warehouse or distribution centre. 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 these environments, each part of the building may 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 a warehouse or distribution centre the height of ceilings and the sheer expanse of the open area to be protected may mean that it can be very tricky to ensure the fire alarm detectors are triggered in time.
Similarly, 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 warehouses and distribution centres.
The most common fire alarm systems installed in these environments are either an aspiration detection system (VESDA ®) or open area smoke imaging detection system (OSID).
VESDA ® (an abbreviation of Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus) is the most advanced aspirating smoke detection equipment in the fire industry. It is a highly sensitive form of fire detection that can detect a fire at an early stage. The system takes samples of the air and tests them for the presence of smoke.
The OSID System is based on the patented use of digital imaging, dual-frequency beams, and smart algorithms. The use of dual light frequencies in an open-path device enables OSID to discriminate between real smoke and other objects, including insects, steam, condensation and dust, thus dramatically reducing false alarms, making OSID a robust, standard sensitivity detection system for warehouses and distribution centres.
Tecserv UK has experience installing and maintaining most types of warehouse fire alarm systems and we a BAFE approved company.
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