A guide to Fire Alarm Maintenance

Did you know that 42% of callouts to UK fire brigades last year were due to false alarms? Or that 38% of battery-operated fire alarms didn’t sound when they were supposed to because of missing, flat, or disconnected batteries in 2018?

The worst part? All those figures were completely avoidable – if only the buildings had properly maintained their fire alarms.

That’s how crucial proper fire alarm maintenance is. Not only is it a legal requirement; it’s also vital to making sure that your fire safety equipment will do its job.

So, to avoid you ever being one of those statistics, we’ve put together your complete guide to everything you need to ensure your business’ fire alarms work the way they should, when they should.

Fire alarm servicing

The key to good maintenance is good servicing. So, we’re going to look at how you can manage your fire alarm servicing, so your employees stay safe and your business remains legally compliant.

 

Why is fire alarm servicing important?

Fire alarms play a crucial role in the event of a fire, alerting everyone on the premises that they need to evacuate to a safe place. If your fire alarms are found to be faulty, damaged, or broken, the consequences can be costly and life-threatening.

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There are several serious consequences that come with not regularly maintaining your fire alarms to the correct safety standards:

  1. Invalidated insurance

If your fire alarms are found to be poorly maintained, your insurance could be invalidated due to a lack of safety management on your part. This raises the question: If your insurance is invalid, can you afford to pay for any damage?

  1. Potential closure

If a fire breaks out because you didn’t properly maintain your fire alarms, the cost of repairs could leave you out of pocket and you might be forced to close your doors – every employer’s worst nightmare.

  1. Tarnished reputation

If your fire alarms aren’t up to the job when a fire breaks out, your negligence could tarnish your business’ reputation – something that’s often irreparable.

  1. Long-term respiratory illnesses

The longer your employees are exposed to smoke, the greater the chance of them suffering with long-term respiratory problems and long-lasting damage to their throat and lungs.

  1. Unnecessary callouts to your fire brigade

There is a false alarm in the UK every two minutes, costing the UK economy £1billion every year. It’s important to remember that wasting the time of the fire and rescue services can cost lives.

Is fire alarm testing a legal requirement?

Fire alarm testing is very much a legal requirement. As an employer, you’re not only obligated under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) to safeguard your employees, but you’re also required to keep your fire safety measures up to scratch under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005.

Without thorough testing and a certificate to prove that your fire alarms are up to the British Standard BS 5839, you could face costly fines, prosecution, or even a custodial sentence depending on the level of negligence.

 

How often should fire alarms be serviced?

To comply with British Standard BS 5839 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, your premises is required to carry out fire alarm maintenance every six months.

Regular fire alarm maintenance not only gives you confidence that your alarms provide effective fire safety, but it also prevents false fire alarms and keeps your business legally compliant.

 

What does the fire alarm maintenance process involve?

When it comes to servicing your fire alarms, your engineer’s goal is to make sure your alarms warn employees that a fire has broken out. Your engineer will:

  • Check the condition and sound levels of all alarm devices
  • Test your standby battery
  • Highlight areas requiring maintenance and provide a quote
  • Issue a certificate to prove regulatory compliance
  • Ensure the results of your fire alarm tests have been properly recorded.

Fire alarm maintenance can’t be completed by just anybody, and, if you’re not a qualified engineer with previous training and experience, you won’t be able to carry it out yourself. It’s important that your engineer can carry out the above steps without fault – so make sure you know what to look out for when doing your research on fire safety compliance companies.

 

How often should you check your fire alarm?

You should never wait until your next service to see if your fire alarms are in working order. In fact, fire safety regulations outline that, as a business owner, you should visually check your fire alarm control panel for any damage or faults on a daily basis.

 

What should I do if my fire alarm is faulty?

You must report the fault immediately by contacting your fire protection company so they can fix the issue straight away. You should never ignore any visual warning signs when it comes to your fire detection equipment because you’ll be solely responsible for jeopardising everyone’s safety should a fire break out.

 

How long do fire alarms last?

Fire alarms don’t last forever, which is why it’s important to keep up with your regular checks and inspections. Most fire alarm systems have a lifespan of 10-15 years – however, the batteries that supply the backup power only last up to four years. With routine servicing, your fire alarms should never lose power.

 

Are weekly fire alarm tests mandatory?

You or your business’ ‘responsible person’ – The person responsible for ensuring and maintaining correct fire safety and procedures (often the owner, employer, or occupier of the premises) – should carry out weekly tests on the fire detection and warning systems to make sure everything’s in good working condition.

In each weekly test, you should activate at least one fire alarm call-point and check that the alarm sounds, and the control panel receives the signal. If your panel has a link to the alarm centre, you should also let your local fire service know that you’ll be running a weekly test, so they know a fire hasn’t broken out on your premises. Once your fire test is complete, you should then record the test in your fire logbook and reset your fire alarm panel.

 

How can Citation Fire & Electrical help?

We can supply you with a bespoke fire alarm maintenance plan to ensure you are always fully compliant.

Our FIA-trained engineers are regularly audited to check that they meet all required safety standards and are qualified to service all types of fire alarm systems.

No matter where you’re based, we have fire alarm service engineers and specialists across the country, so we can be by your side when you need us – with no hidden call-out fees.

Our quality control managers ensure the highest standards are met for all our fire alarm servicing. For complete peace of mind, we can also provide a full after-sales service.

If you don’t yet have a fire alarm maintenance plan or contract in place, we recommend you get in touch with our BAFE-accredited team here at Citation Fire & Electrical. One of our specialists will discuss your requirements and help you access the services and the experts you need to keep your business safe and compliant.

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