When it comes to fire safety, the owners and operators of commercial buildings in the UK must comply with the fire safety regulations set out by the government in the ‘Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’ . This statute is designed to protect people and property from fire risk. Fire alarm regulations for UK commercial buildings form part of The Fire Safety Order 2005.
Introduction to Fire Alarm Regulations for UK Commercial Buildings
The regulations cover many areas, and are very comprehensive however in essence all owners of companies and buildings must appoint a ‘responsible person’ to ensure compliance with the law and raise a high level of awareness of fire protection. In addition an ‘adequate’ system of detecting fire and raising the alarm must be in operation.
In most cases, commercial buildings in the UK have a commercial fire alarm system installed to ensure the safety of all occupants and to protect the building’s fabric and its contents.
These systems are one of the most reliable methods of detecting fire and raising the alarm so the UK government has set out rigorous regulations covering their design, installation and maintenance.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 or RRO is fire safety legislation that was introduced in 2006 to improve fire safety in commercial buildings in the UK.
The RRO requires commercial buildings to have an up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment in place that has been undertaken by a professional assessor. The Fire Risk Assessment should have identified all the potential fire hazards in the business and made recommendations for systems or practices to mitigate the risks of a fire breaking out alongside an ‘adequate’ system of detecting fire and raising the alarm if it does.
What sort of alert system is necessary?
The 3 varieties of fire systems are conventional, addressable, and wireless.
Typical/Conventional Fire Alarm System
This alert system effectively splits up a whole area into smaller, more detectable sections or zones for effective fire management. In case of alarm activation, the fire alarm panel can recognise and narrow down the fire to a specific segmented zone, but not the exact location of the fire. This makes it more suitable for lower-risk businesses or smaller commercial spaces.
Addressable Fire Alarm Systems
This system involves area components having their own address. If one area is triggered, the fire alarm panel will indicate the specific location of the issue. These alarm systems are often used in larger buildings with many different areas with a lot of footfall, such as schools, residential homes, and hospitals. The addressable alarm system can cover a very wide area which allows extra time for evacuation in the event of a fire. They can also be programmed to shut down lifts and heating appliances such as ovens.
Wireless Fire Alarm
A Wireless Fire Alarm has a secure remote connection between the sensors and the fire alarm panel, typically like an addressable system but without all the wires.
This type of system is most suitable for premises where cables may be unsightly, such as churches, listed buildings, or areas where interior decoration is valued and should not be disturbed. A wireless fire alarm is also very efficient and quick to install which saves time and minimises disruption for businesses.
Detector Types and Other System Types
Several types of fire detectors and technology are used in commercial buildings in the UK such as:
Heat and smoke detectors: Heat and smoke detectors are the most common type of detector used in commercial buildings. These devices detect heat and smoke and sound an alarm when they are triggered.
Beam Detectors: Often fitted at high level these infra-red beams are very cost effective for large open areas such as you would find in a storage facility, warehouse or factory because they cover a wide area.
Fire alarm systems with automatic sprinkler systems – Fire alarm systems with automated sprinkler systems are also used in commercial buildings. These systems are designed to detect a fire and automatically activate the sprinkler system to extinguish the fire.
Manual alarm systems: Manual alarm systems are occasionally used in commercial buildings. These systems require someone to manually activate the alarm when a fire is detected. There are very strict regulations regarding the types of fire alarm systems that should be used and this is especially true of manual alarm systems.
Fire Alarm Maintenance
Fire alarm maintenance is an essential part of the fire alarm regulations for UK commercial buildings. A maintenance visit by a professional Fire Alarm company is designed to check that the fire alarm system is working correctly and that all of the components of the fire alarm system are functioning properly.
Fire alarms should be serviced by a professional at least every 6 months as recommended in BS 5839 to ensure that the fire alarm system is operating and meets the fire alarm regulations for UK commercial buildings.
Weekly testing of the fire alarm should also be taken by the ‘responsible person’ within the business.
Fire Safety Tips for Commercial Buildings
Fire safety is essential to protecting people and property in commercial buildings in the UK. Several fire safety tips can help reduce the risk of fires in commercial buildings.
Installation and Maintenance: It is vital to ensure that the fire alarm system is installed and maintained correctly to meet the fire alarm regulations for UK commercial buildings. The fire alarm system should be installed by a certified installer and regularly tested and maintained to ensure it works correctly.
Regular Risk Assessments: While there is no guidance on assessment intervals, it is important to carry out regular fire risk assessments to identify any potential fire hazards and to ensure that any potential fire hazards have been identified and addressed.
Signage And Accessibility of Escape Routes: It is essential to ensure that all exits and escape routes are clearly marked and accessible during a fire.
Awareness of Regulations and Response: It is critical to ensure that everyone in the building knows how to respond in the event of a fire.
Fire safety is integral to protecting people and property in commercial buildings in the UK. The fire alarm regulations for UK commercial buildings are designed to reduce fire risk and keep people and property safe.
By understanding and following the fire alarm regulations for UK commercial buildings, commercial buildings can stay safe and reduce fire risk.