As professionals in the fire safety industry, we have been asked countless times, “when is an automatic fire detection system considered necessary?” It is a valid question, considering the cost of installing and maintaining such a system.
However, the answer is simple: a commercial automatic fire detection system is necessary when required by your Fire Risk Assessment or is a requirement of your insurance.
In this blog post, we will have a look at the different aspects of commercial fire alarm systems, including the legal requirements, types of premises that require these systems, and the benefits of investing in one.
Understanding Fire Safety Legislation and Regulations
Before we dive into why a commercial automatic fire detection system is necessary, it is crucial to understand the legal requirements surrounding fire safety, mainly the 2005 Fire Safety Order.
Known correctly as The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 this stipulates that all buildings other than private homes must have adequate fire safety measures in place, this may or may not include automatic fire detection systems.
By law all businesses or organisations must have a Fire Risk Assessment carried out, which will identify the fire risks that exist in your business and what you should do to reduce these risks and also what fire safety measures are required.
The assessment which should ideally be undertaken by a professional Fire Risk Assessor will take into account the following:
- The type of building and its use
- The number of occupants and,
- The potential fire hazards.
Types of Premises that Require Automatic Fire Detection Systems
The types of premises that require automatic fire detection systems depend on the outcome of the fire risk assessment.
Buildings used for sleeping accommodation, such as hotels and hostels, must have automatic fire detection systems installed in all areas, including bedrooms and corridors.
Large premises, such as Shopping centres, Supermarkets, Airports, and Hospitals must have automatic fire detection systems installed in all areas, including storage areas, plant rooms, and other non-public areas.
Other premises that require automatic fire detection systems include:
- High-rise buildings
- Buildings with basements
- Buildings with large atriums.
Benefits of Having a Commercial Automatic Fire Detection System
The benefits of having a commercial automatic fire detection system are clear.
These systems can:
- Save lives
- Protect property and assets
- Ensure compliance with legal and insurance requirements.
By investing in a commercial automatic fire detection system, building owners can have peace of mind knowing that they are taking the necessary steps to protect their property and the people who use it.
Reasons why a Commercial Automatic Fire Detection System is Considered Necessary in the UK
Now that we have discussed the legal requirements and types of premises that require automatic fire detection systems, let’s dive into why they are considered necessary.
Protection of Life
Protecting life is one of the most important reasons for installing a commercial automatic fire detection system.
These automatic fire detectors can detect a fire early, giving building occupants more time to evacuate safely. The earlier a fire is detected, the more time people have to make an escape and the longer the fire brigade have to arrive at the premises. This can be critical in saving lives, especially in large buildings where evacuation can take time.
Protection of Property
Early detection can also help to minimise damage to property and assets. If a fire is detected early, it may be possible to contain it before it spreads, thereby reducing the damage to the building and its contents. This can be especially important in buildings with valuable equipment, extensive stock or sensitive data.
Compliance with Insurance Requirements
Many insurance policies require that commercial buildings have automatic fire detection systems installed. In fact, some insurance companies will only provide coverage if these systems are in place. By installing a commercial automatic fire detection system, building owners can ensure that they comply with insurance requirements and avoid potential liability issues.
Early Warning of Fire
Automatic fire detection systems can alert the fire brigade immediately, reducing response times and potentially saving lives. This is possible by the addition of ‘alarm monitoring’ technology. When a fire is detected, the system sends an alarm signal to a monitoring centre, alerting the fire brigade. This can be critical in reducing the time it takes for the fire brigade to arrive on the scene, which can be the difference between life and death.
Monitoring of Unoccupied Buildings
Automatic fire detection systems with monitoring capability can be used in unoccupied buildings, reducing the risk of fires going undetected. This can be especially important for buildings only occupied during certain times of the day or week, such as schools or offices. By monitoring these buildings, any potential fires can be detected and dealt with before they can cause damage.
Detection of Hidden Fires
Automatic fire detection systems can detect fires in areas that may not be immediately visible, such as roof spaces or behind walls. This can be critical in preventing fires from spreading and causing extensive damage to the building. By detecting these hidden fires early, the fire brigade can be alerted and take action before the fire can spread.
Peace of Mind
Knowing that a commercial building is protected by an automatic fire detection system, especially one with added monitoring technology, can provide peace of mind for building owners, managers, and occupants. A monitored system does not rely on occupants to raise the alarm since the technology will trigger the local fire and rescue department as soon as a fire is detected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
By investing in these systems, building owners can be reassured that they have taken a major step in protecting their property and the people who use it.
Conclusion and the Importance of Investing in a Commercial Automatic Fire Detection System
Building owners and those responsible for a commercial premises must comply with fire safety law and ensure that a Fire Risk Assessment is conducted for their premises by a competent person. This must be published and employees must be trained to understand the essentials of fire awareness.
Installing a commercial automatic fire detection system may or may not be recommended in your Fire Risk Assessment however they are effective in alerting occupants, employees and visitors to the presence of a fire in a very prompt manner and can be an essential lifesaving system.
It is important to remember that investing in a commercial automatic fire detection system is not just about complying with legal and insurance requirements; it is about protecting the people who use the building and the property itself.