Fire alarms save and protect lives. Regardless of how big or small your commercial property is, having an effective fire alarm system doesn’t just save you from heavy fines but also helps avoid serious threats such as damage to property and loss of life.
They can help with the early detection of fires and guaranteed quick response time. They may seem like an added cost to some, but if you see the huge benefits that they provide and how they can help minimize costs, you’ll see how it is a long-term investment rather than a cost.
The thing to note here is that installing a good fire alarm system isn’t the end of the story. As is with everything, fire alarms develop faults with prolonged use and deteriorate over time which is why the systems need regular servicing and maintenance.
As a commercial property owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the fire alarms installed on your premises can be relied upon should the need arise. The best way to go about that is to have the systems checked out and serviced to rule out any faults arising that may cause them to malfunction.
Let’s look at how often commercial fire alarms need to be serviced and why it is so important:
HOW OFTEN SHOULD COMMERCIAL FIRE ALARMS BE SERVICED?
There are two different types of fire alarms available with the differentiating factor being the scale and connectivity. They are further divided into various grades and categories based on the level and type of protection they offer.
Which one you choose depends on the size of the property, its location, the type of building, and what exactly the alarms are used for.
Ensuring that you have the appropriate fire alarm systems installed on your property is detrimental in their overall effectiveness, which is why you must always consult with and have the systems installed by a British Standard BS 5839 certified installer.
According to UK fire and safety regulations, you must make sure that your fire alarm is regularly serviced for it to work fault-free. How often does “regularly” actually mean?
Commercial fire alarm systems must be inspected and maintained at least every 6 months, as per the BS 5839 guidelines.
However, this timeline is not set in stone. If you have a bigger property or feel like your fire alarm systems are more complex than the usual ones, it is recommended to go for quarterly inspections instead of bi-annual.
In addition to having the systems checked out by a professional twice or thrice every year, you may also carry out regular weekly testing of the fire alarms.
The person responsible for the property such as the owner, employer, or manager has a legal obligation to ensure that the fire alarms are fully functional and operational.
As discussed above, regular servicing is great and also highly recommended for your fire alarms overall health. To take things up a notch, you can carry out weekly tests as suggested by the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 to ensure even the slightest bit of error is brought into notice and the appropriate action is taken to rectify it ASAP.
Furthermore, the tests also help the occupants of the commercial property familiarize themselves with the sound of the fire alarm making it easier to respond to during an actual crisis.
These weekly tests should be carried out by a competent person at the same time every week, and during working hours, so that the employees and workers are aware of the test being conducted, and all the findings must be logged and reported.
WHY IS COMMERCIAL FIRE ALARM SERVICING IMPORTANT?
Why is commercial fire alarm servicing so important? Let’s look at all the benefits it brings to commercial property owners:
- Help save lives and protect property
A fire alarm is invaluable when it comes to helping save lives and protecting property in the event of a fire, which is why it tops our list of fire alarm servicing benefits. A reliable fire alarm in good working condition will guarantee the earliest possible alert and quick response time to combat the threat.
- Help save money
Regular servicing not just helps save money by protecting business assets and property, but if you have proof of a state-of-the-art, properly maintained fire alarm system on your property you can claim a discount from many property insurance providers. Also, if a commercial fire alarm were to malfunction during a fire, the business owners could be in for a serious lawsuit due to injuries, and in serious cases death of employees.
- Meet insurance requirements
An effective and well-maintained fire alarm system is a requirement for almost all insurance providers. In case of a fire, if a commercial property owner is unable to provide proof of a fire alarm system on their property, they may be denied coverage.
- Avoid false alarms
False alarms as a result of inadequate maintenance can be a serious nuisance for the occupants of a property as well as the people residing and working nearby. It can cause disruptions to work and waste valuable fire department resources if they are called to the scene. To deal with the issue, the authorities have imposed a fine on people calling them out due to repeated false alarms making it all the more important to have the systems regularly serviced.
- Compliance with the law
According to the UK government, you are responsible for fire safety on your commercial premises, which includes proper installation and maintenance if you are the owner, employer, landlord, occupier, or anyone in a controlling position. The inability to do so can land you in some serious trouble.
COMMERCIAL FIRE ALARM SYSTEM TYPES
All fire alarm systems operate on the same principle of a detector sensing smoke or heat, and the alarm is activated to warn others in the building. They may also incorporate fire alarm monitoring equipment which would alert the monitoring centres and the fire department to take the necessary action.
There are two main types of fire alarms; conventional fire alarm systems and addressable fire alarm systems. Let’s look at each one in detail:
- Conventional fire alarm systems
A conventional fire alarm system divides the property into zones that give a rough idea as to where the fire actually is.
Zones are large areas such as different floors of a building. The system identifies the zone, such as the particular floor where the fire is, but not the exact location of the fire on the floor.
The exactness of knowing where a fire has started is controlled by the number of zones and circuits that have been wired within the building. More zones mean more divisions, which automatically means better identification of the fire.
For this reason, the conventional fire alarm system is more suited for small businesses that operate in a small area. They are less precise, and therefore, cheaper than the addressable fire alarm system.
- Addressable fire alarm system
The most modern variant of fire alarms, the addressable system allocates a precise address for each device that can pinpoint the exact location of the threat. When one of the system’s components is initiated, it shows the component’s address on the fire alarm panel.
It is more suited for businesses that operate in a larger area, or if they are at a higher risk of fires, such as restaurants, or businesses dealing with chemicals such as the beauty salon or paint shop. Due to the high level of precision, the addressable fire alarm system is pricier than the conventional one.
COMPONENTS OF A COMMERCIAL FIRE ALARM
Let’s look at the different components that make up a commercial fire alarm system to understand the faults that can develop and for which regular servicing is so important:
- Control panel
The control panel is the heart of the system connecting all the elements and allowing them to communicate with each other. The control panel can either be conventional or addressable.
The sensors/detectors in a fire alarm system are what pick up the unusual activity such as smoke, heat, or increasing carbon monoxide levels. The different types of sensors include heat, ionization, and photoelectric.
- Alerting devices
Alerting devices are the bells, sirens, and flashing lights that go off as soon as the alarm is triggered. Without these, there is no apparent way of people knowing that a fire has erupted and they need to immediately get to safety.
- Call points
There are fire alarms with automatic sensors that pick up any discrepancies in the air, and there are systems with manual call points where a person has to activate the alarm themselves when they see signs of a fire.
- Battery power
Fire alarms receive their power through the mains electricity supply or a battery. It is always good practice to have backup batteries in case there is a power interruption or failure.
COMMON FIRE ALARM FAULTS
Below are the most common faults found in commercial fire alarm systems for which regular servicing is required:
- Faulty sensors
The main reason why sensors and detectors start to malfunction is because of the dirt and moisture lodged in them, or because of obstructions in the way. Such faulty components might not pick up signs of a fire and fail to alert the people nearby of the danger.
- Ground faults
When an exposed wire or component from the system touches a metal grounded object, ground faults occur causing the system to short-circuit. They can be due to several factors such as water damage and construction and may hamper the alarms ability to function properly.
- Alarm failure
Faults in the alerting devices such as bells, sirens, and flashing lights can cause the fire alarm to go on silent mode; something which can be a serious issue since a silent fire alarm is just as good as no fire alarm at all.
- Battery issue
Prolonged use or power surges and fluctuations can cause the battery to drain faster, which results in it being an insufficient power source for fire alarms. This scenario can be risky in both situations, where the system is fully dependent on the batteries and also where they are used as a backup power supply.
COMMERCIAL FIRE ALARM SERVICING COSTS
British Standard BS 5839 stipulates that fire alarms should be maintained at regular intervals. What’s great is that we at Calder Security can service most fire alarm systems, regardless of whether we installed them or not.
On average, a maintenance visit would cost you around £125-£200+. The charges will differ if you have a maintenance contract.
There are other costs involved with commercial fire alarm maintenance such as the systems installation, monitoring, and repair. The average starting cost for a fire alarm security system for your business would be around £1500. This may vary depending on the type, number, and complexity of the security system.
The proper installation of a fire alarm system is just as crucial as the quality of the system itself. As a rough estimate, you can expect to pay £1000+ for a fire alarm system for a small business.
Once the fire alarm has been installed on your premises, you must consider other areas of fire protection for your property such as fire suppressors, sprinklers, and training staff members on how to deal with fires at work.
Fire alarm monitoring works by a professional monitoring centre notifying the emergency services or named key holders in the event of an alarm trigger. This not only minimizes the gravity of the situation but can also reduce insurance premiums.
Monthly charges for a fire alarm monitoring system fall anywhere between £15-£45, which is nothing compared to the damages fire can cause to your possessions.
Due to the nature of a fire alarm system, you need to know when it becomes faulty so that you can get it repaired ASAP to prevent false fire alarms or, in a worst-case scenario, prevent it from triggering in the event of a fire.
Our engineers are highly skilled and can usually restore your system to full working order in one visit. Fire alarm repair services would cost you around £92. The total charges may vary depending on the nature of the fault.
CONTACT CALDER SECURITY
According to the UK fire alarm regulations, someone competent and reliable must be chosen to install a fire alarm at your premises. They require that:
- The security company must understand the various types of fire alarm systems and be familiar with all the different models.
- They must be able to identify which grade and category of the fire alarm system are required.
- They must have good knowledge of the British Standard BS 5839.
We, at Calder Security, check out all the requirements laid out by the government and provide a comprehensive fire alarm system that includes professional installation, monitoring, maintenance, and repair services. We offer a complete solution for all your fire safety needs.
- We can design, supply, install, maintain, repair, and monitor fire alarm systems for a complete service.
- We are SSAIB approved
- We are security specialists working in the industry since 1976.
- All our installed systems comply with business insurance terms.
- We follow the British Standard BS 5839 for all our fire alarms.
- We only partner with trusted monitoring stations.
- We use DualCom and BT Redcare monitoring, the most secure signalling service in all of the UK.
- We can offer fast repairs should monitoring detect any faults with the system.
- We have a 24-hour call-out service for customers.
- We have extensive knowledge of all systems and can work on systems not installed or maintained by us.
- We will remind you when fire alarm services are due so that it’s one less thing to worry about.
Contact us now for a quick quote!