As a business owner in the UK, it is very important to understand your duty to protect your property and its assets, including your employees.
These consist of taking all the necessary steps to ensure protection from all kinds of threats such as theft, intrusions, fires, and floods.
Fires in the workplace are a very common occurrence and need to be addressed by those in charge. According to statistics, the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) attended 156,128 fire-related incidents in the year ending June 2020.
These incidents result in substantial losses to both life and property and are at times serious enough to shut down some businesses for good.
The good news is that these threats are mostly preventable if the right security measures are taken. There are certain laws and regulations that you need to abide by to ensure compliance with the law along with maximum security and protection.
All fire alarm regulations for business premises in the UK are incorporated in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that provides a detailed guide to make your property safe from fire.
Read on to find out who is responsible for fire safety in the workplace, what the regulations cover, and the consequences of not following them:
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
According to the UK fire safety regulations, it is a legal requirement for you to have a proper fire alarm system in place if any one of the following statements is true:
- Your property is large, multi-storeyed, or close-planned,
- You store high-risk and highly-flammable substances such as chemicals and paints,
- You undertake high-risk activities that involve open fires, such as cooking, or
- A fire would not be easily spotted if it broke out anywhere on the property.
You are responsible for fire safety for your business if you are the owner, employer, landlord, occupier, or anyone in a controlling position.
There may be more than one ‘responsible person’ and, if that is the case, you need to work together and take on equal responsibility in meeting the safety regulations.
FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT
A fire risk assessment forms the basis of fire security and must be performed by all businesses, regardless of their size. If your business employs more than five people, you must maintain a written record of your findings.
A fire risk assessment is carried out in five steps:
Identifying the potential hazards
It starts with assessing all areas of your business and identifying how a fire could start within the premises. This includes checking the sources of fuel and ignition, and the building’s heating and electrical installations.
Identifying those at risk
A business’s employees and customers are its most valuable assets and it’s the owners’ responsibility to safeguard them. Some employees might be at greater risk due to the nature of their specific work. Vulnerable people such as disabled workers and the elderly must also be identified.
Evaluating the extent of the risk and removing it
After identifying the potential hazards and those most at risk, the extent of the risk must be evaluated and preventive and protective steps must be taken to reduce them.
This would involve separating highly flammable materials from ignition sources and having a safe smoking policy.
When the risks are reduced to as much as possible, the current fire safety measures must be evaluated and general fire precautions must be drawn up.
Recording the findings and preparing an action plan
You must record all major findings including the hazards and steps taken to limit the risks and discuss them with other responsible people at the firm.
An action plan must be put into place that could start with conducting fire drills and making evacuation plans. Staff members could be assigned roles and delegated responsibilities to help train the rest of the employees and act as guides during such emergencies.
Reviewing and updating as necessary
Risks do not stay constant and may change over time. This could be due to several factors and, to keep up with the changes, it is necessary to review and update your findings regularly. Make sure you inform your employees, as well as anyone using the premises, of any amendments.
A fire risk assessment is a crucial first step in implementing the appropriate precautions and the inability to do so may result in heavy penalties in the form of fines of up to £5,000 and up to 2 years in prison.
If your business is too big and complex, and you feel like you may require expert guidance, you may hire a professional fire risk assessor to help you with the task.
FIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT
All businesses are different and so is their risk of fires. Some might be more susceptible to the threat and need a comprehensive fire safety solution, while others might make do with a few fire extinguishers only.
Some of the most common fire safety equipment includes:
- Portable multi-purpose fire extinguishers,
- Sprinkler systems,
- Fire hose reels,
- Fire alarm systems, and
- Emergency lighting.
A common question asked among many business owners is whether having a fire alarm system is a legal requirement for them. Well, the answer is no, it isn’t. A fire alarm system is needed depending on the type of business and level of risk.
However, regardless of whether they have a fire alarm system or not, all businesses are required to have an appropriate fire detection system in place and, in the event of a fire, the systems must be able to detect the threat and warn the people in and around the premises.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
There are different types of commercial fire alarm systems and the type your business needs depend on its size, nature, and level of risk:
The two most common ones are:
Conventional fire alarms
Conventional fire alarms are more suited to smaller businesses, such as individual offices, because instead of identifying which device has been activated on the system during a trigger, they identify the floor or the zone that the device is linked to.
They are not very precise since the zones do not give the exact location of the fire. If a business has four floors, and each floor is a different zone, a conventional fire alarm would help identify the floor that the fire erupted in, but not where exactly on the floor the threat is.
Addressable fire alarms
Addressable fire alarms systems are much more complex and best suited to businesses spanning across a large area due to their ability to pin-point to the exact activated device during a trigger instead of just identifying the zone.
Each device on the system has an address or location, and each device is monitored from a central location. This makes them the perfect choice for businesses that are at a higher risk of fires, such as restaurants, or ones dealing with chemicals such as the beauty salon or paint shop.
GRADES AND CATEGORIES OF FIRE ALARMS
Once you decide on the best type of fire alarm system for your business, you need to move on to the different grades and categories laid out by the British Standard BS 5839 that detail the kind of equipment used in the system.
The six grades include:
- Grade A: Separate detectors and sounders with back-up power supply and central control equipment that conform to British Standards BS EN 54.
- Grade C: Separate detectors, sounders, and central control equipment connected to a common power supply, comprising of the mains and standby supply.
- Grade D1: One or more detectors, powered by the mains supply along with a tamper‑proof standby supply consisting of a battery or batteries.
- Grade D2: One or more detectors, powered by the mains supply along with a standby supply consisting of a replaceable battery or batteries.
- Grade F1: One or more detectors powered by a tamper‑proof, replaceable primary battery or batteries.
- Grade F2: One or more detectors powered by a replaceable primary battery or batteries.
The three categories include:
- Category M: The M here stands for “Manual” and it constitutes all manual fire alarms where the alarm must be triggered by someone manually, for example, someone using an activation/call point to sound the alarm. These systems are fairly simple, not automated, and rely on humans to detect the fire and trigger the alarm.
- Category L: The L here stands for “Life protection”, comprising of fire alarm systems geared towards protecting life. There are 5 levels in this category, L1–L5, with L1 offering the highest level of protection and early fire detection, and L5 offering enough to fulfil the basic safety requirements.
- Category P: The P here stands for “Property”, comprising of fire alarm systems geared towards protecting property. There are two levels, P1 and P2, with P1 providing complete fire protection at the earliest possible sign and P2 with detectors for certain defined parts of a building.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
Having a fire alarm system on your business premises is not enough; you must make sure that it is working correctly by checking it regularly.
According to the national fire alarm regulations, the person responsible for fire safety must conduct a daily visual inspection of the fire alarm system to check for faults followed by weekly alarm tests.
The tests are carried out to check whether the alarm, battery, and control panel are working as they should, and the findings must be recorded. All issues must be reported to the relevant people and action must be taken to rectify them immediately.
In addition to daily and weekly inspections and tests, the fire alarm systems must be regularly serviced by a certified professional 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 systems are more complex, it is recommended to go for quarterly inspections instead of bi-annual.
Fire alarm servicing doesn’t just help you stay compliant with the law but, as a business owner, it provides you with a whole lot of benefits.
A well-maintained fire alarm helps save lives and protect property. It guarantees the earliest possible alert and quick response time to combat the threat.
Regular servicing not just helps save money by protecting business assets and property, but if you have proof of a properly maintained fire alarm system, you can claim a discount from many property insurance providers.
False alarms are also a result of inadequate maintenance and can cause disruptions to work and waste valuable fire department resources if they are called to the scene.
WHO SHOULD INSTALL THE FIRE ALARM SYSTEM?
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.
CONTACT CALDER SECURITY
Businesses are required by the law to conduct a fire risk assessment and have an appropriate fire detection system in place.
At Calder Security, we offer you a comprehensive solution for all your business’s fire safety needs and guarantee the best service in all of Yorkshire and beyond. Our services include:
The proper installation of a fire alarm system is just as important as the quality of the system itself. It is a complex task requiring expertise in the field.
We understand that every business is different and the specification of the system depends on several factors including the type of building, the nature of the business, and the number of employees and staff.
We can help you cut through all that and advise you on the best fire detection system for your business that complies with British Standards, HSE, Building Regulations, and Fire Officer Guidelines.
We install only high-quality equipment from our trusted suppliers and all our systems comply with business insurance terms.
It is not enough to simply have a fire alarm system installed on your commercial premises. The law states that it must be maintained properly and, depending on many factors, this can be anything up to 3 times per year.
We understand fire regulations and provide professional maintenance checks and reminders for when the checks are due to help you stay compliant with the law.
We work fast to restore your fire alarm system to excellent condition and always strive to meet your expectations.
Fast response to an activated fire alarm can make all the difference in minimising risk to life and property, and fire alarm monitoring does that by adding an extra layer of safety to the system.
Knowing that experts at an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) are looking out for your safety and taking the necessary steps to ensure that safety remains intact in the event of a fire is a very reassuring thought.
We offer various levels of monitoring via a 24-hour monitoring centre using Dualcom and BT Redcare signalling, which is the most secure alarm monitoring system and the largest supplier of intelligent alarm signalling services in the UK.
Fire alarm monitoring does not only significantly minimise the seriousness of the situation through fast action, but also reduces your insurance premiums.
As per the law, if a fire alarm system becomes faulty, it is mandatory to get it repaired quickly and professionally. The inability to do so can leave you, your staff, your property, and all of its assets in a vulnerable state.
A faulty fire alarm can result in false alarms or, in a worst-case scenario, prevent it from triggering at all in the event of a fire.
Our engineers are highly skilled and can restore your system to full working order in one visit. We offer a 24-hour call-out service for customers and can also repair fire alarms not installed by us thanks to our extensive knowledge and experience.
Contact us here or call us today free on 0800 612 9799 to talk to our experts right away!