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Important Fire Detection FAQs

By now, you are likely aware of the importance of fire detection and alarm systems in both keeping your business and occupants safe, and in adhering to UK laws and regulations.

However, you might still have some questions regarding these often complex systems in order to understand them and what you need for your building. We’ve compiled a list of common questions that will help you better know what your requirements are and whether or not you are meeting them sufficiently.

Which types of fire alarm and detection systems are there and which are best for my business?

There are two main types of fire alarm system that support businesses in different ways: conventional or “non-addressable” systems and addressable systems.

Conventional systems utilise basic zones to indicate where a fire has been detected, offering limited information and response to fires, often making them a cheaper solution that can be suited to small buildings with only a couple of rooms.

Addressable systems are more advanced and have individual identification for each device (e.g. smoke detectors, call points), allowing them to provide specific information on the exact location of the activated device cause of the trigger, and are well-suited to larger sites who want to stay effectively safe.

What are BS 5839 standards?

You may be aware that all fire alarm installations are required to meet certain standards to ensure that they fulfil their purpose safely. These are outlined by BS-5839 Part 1 which states guidelines for design, installation, and maintenance of your fire alarm system.

Whilst these are extensive and too detailed to go through here, it’s important that you have an idea of what these are, and make sure that any provider you go to can guarantee that your system meets the requirements.

What types of fire detector are there?

Accurate, effective, and prompt fire detection is essential in keeping your occupants safe and in enabling rapid response to emergency situations. There are several types of fire detector which all detect in different ways, giving you comprehensive measures to ensure you pick up on a fire as soon as it breaks out. These are:

  • Smoke detectors – optical, ionisation, and photoelectric
  • Heat detectors – rate-of-rise and fixed temperature
  • Flame detectors – infrared and ultraviolet
  • Gas and Carbon Monoxide detectors

Why do I need at least 2 visits per year?

In order to maintain fire alarm and detection systems safely, it is required by BS-5839 standards that your alarms receive a full test and a service every 6 months. Failing to do so could cause your fire alarm system to fault, and is likely to land you in trouble after an inspection.

Can I service my own fire alarm system?

It is required that your fire alarm systems are checked by a ‘competent person’ every 6 months. Whilst you don’t have to use a maintenance provider by law, whoever carries out your tests must be well educated on all of the laws, requirements, and regulations surrounding fire detection and alarm systems.

The vast majority of companies therefore choose a professional maintenance provider as it guarantees compliance, adheres to correct timelines, and saves money.

How many alarms and detectors do I need?

The number of fire detectors and alarms that you will need is heavily dependent on the size and layout of your building, and therefore a site survey will be required to give you a final answer on this. As a general rule though, detectors should be placed:

  • On every floor
  • In every hallway
  • In every stairwell
  • In every bathroom
  • And in every other room where a fire could potentially begin

What happens if I have a false alarm?

False fire alarms are an unwanted side effect that often arise from poorly installed and maintained systems. When your business has a false fire alarm, it wastes valuable emergency services time and leads to disruption. If you have multiple false alarms, emergency services may eventually stop prioritising your building and you could end up receiving financial punishments for failing to resolve the issue.

Contact TF Installations Today

If you have any other questions about fire detection and keeping your building sufficiently safe, feel free to ask us here! You can also book a free no obligation fire alarm survey with us here if you would like to improve your fire safety.