If you are responsible for a property, it's likely that you need to take some fire safety precautions to keep the people who use it safe. This includes almost all buildings, places and structures other than individual private homes – that's individual flats in a block or family homes. Property manager's responsibilities include shared areas in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), blocks of flats and maisonettes.
Getting the right fire alarm system in place is one of your key responsibilities, though you will also need to consider the response to the alarm, along with the escape route, sprinklers and fire doors.
Did you know?
Property owners are required by law (The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) to make sure premises reach required standards of fire safety.
It depends on your premises. Different alarm systems are better suited to different buildings. Current UK fire alarm regulations state that all business premises must have ‘an appropriate fire detection system’. That means that if there's a fire, there needs to be a way for that fire to be easily detected and occupants can be warned easily.
Legally speaking, not always. But we always recommend that everyone has a smoke alarm or heat alarm in every room where a fire could start.
Can you say yes to every one of these statements? If so, a simple smoke and heat alarm is likely to be enough for you.
The best way to understand your risks – and be within the law – is to complete your Fire Risk Assessment. If you have said 'no' to one or more statements or identified the need for a fire alarm system in your Fire Risk Assessment, read on...
Did you know that there are currently NO legal minimum qualification or training requirements for people who want to set up themselves up as 'fire alarm designers'?
That's why it's particularly important to ensure that the consultant or company you appoint is accredited by a professional body.
To ensure proven credibility the certification body offering accreditation needs to have been validated by UKAS – the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, such as:
This accreditation is your assurance that the person you're trusting with peoples' lives really is an expert and that they will ensure the alarm design suits your premises and the activities employed. They will also make sure it meets the technical standards demanded by the British Standards Institution (the UK’s national body on standards) or suitable equivalent
There are clear advantages to using a company that has been independently audited and found to meet the required standards, though Third Party Certification (TPC) is a complex subject. Luckily it has been clearly explained by the Fire Industry Association in this link.
A number of TPC schemes cover fire alarms. Key ones are LPCB LPS1014 and BAFE SP203-1. We suggest that you only use a design and installation specialist who operates these schemes.
Another quality hallmark is professional membership – check that they are a member of trade organisations. Here are just a few examples:
Fire alarm legislation doesn’t specify exactly which each type of fire alarm system should be used where – it comes down to what's right for your particular circumstances. The best way to identify what's most appropriate for you is to use an accredited fire safety specialist. It's also really important to ensure it meets BS 5839 specifications, the relevant British Standard.
There are 3 main types of automatic fire alarm system: conventional, wireless and addressable.
This type of fire alarm is what most people imagine when they think of a fire alarm. It divides your premises into broad zones, and in the event of an alert, the fire alarm panel identifies the zone, but not the precise area
Who's it for? Usually most suitable for smaller or lower risk environments.
This system is more intelligent because each individual fire detection device has its own unique electronic address. If one activates, the fire alarm panel tells you precisely where the problem is.
Who's it for? Usually most suitable for larger or higher risk environments such as schools, care homes, hospitals.
This is intelligent system works in a similar way to the Addressable Fire Alarm – just without the wires. Instead, it uses a secure wireless link between the sensors and the fire alarm panel.
Who's it for? Usually most suitable for premises where lots of cabling isn't appropriate, such as churches and historic buildings.
There is a complex system of 'grades’ and ‘categories’ that define how your fire alarm system should be constructed (grades), and which areas of your building it should cover (categories). The best way to know what's right for the property that you're responsible for is to get advice from a reputable, accredited expert.