When you run any sort of business that operates from non-domestic premises, you are required by law to undertake a fire risk assessment, which can be quite an involved undertaking, especially if you have no training in what to look for. Certainly, some things may be obvious, but in many cases, there will be things that the trained eye will spot instantly which may not even occur to the average businessman or woman.
One of the things that are needed in many businesses, but not all, is a fire alarm system. If you run something such as a small corner shop, then you won’t need an alarm because if a fire breaks out it will be easy to see, and you will be able to evacuate any customers very quickly. However, most business premises will need fire alarms and there are different types of alarm that can be installed. There are three main types of fire alarm, and these are conventional alarms, addressable alarms, and wireless.
Conventional fire alarms are usually only suitable for small premises and/or low-risk areas. When a fire is detected, the alarm panel will show the location of the smoke detector or heat detector that has been activated by switching on a LED. This is only very basic information working on large zones and requires the fire safety manager to search the zone to locate the fire. This obviously adds to the time needed to raise the alarm and so is not suitable for larger premises.
An addressable alarm tells you exactly where the heat or smoke alarm has gone off on the premises. Every heat or smoke detector on the premises which is connected to the alarm panel has its’ own electronic “address”. This is a much more intelligent system and is suitable for larger premises such as hospitals, care homes, schools, and so on.
A wireless alarm works in a similar way to an addressable alarm but simply does not have any wires. They work using a wireless connection between each of the smoke or heat detectors and the alarm panel itself. These are suitable for large premises, and especially those where cables are not appropriate, such as a listed building or church.
At UK-FireRisk Assessments, we can advise you on the sort of installation that would be appropriate for your premises when we carry out your fire risk assessment for you. As an employer, or the responsible person in a business, the law requires you to carry out a fire risk assessment and, if you employ more than five people, keep a written record of your assessment and any actions taken as a result. Even in small premises, doing this can be complicated, and it becomes more complex the bigger the premises are. Some businesses, of course, are spread over a large site and may have several different buildings within them, which makes undertaking a fire risk assessment an onerous task.
This is why many businesses who need fire safety assessments in South Yorkshire call upon us to carry them out instead. Our team is fully trained in every aspect of fire risk assessments, and we know what to look for. We will undertake a full assessment on a fixed fee basis and provide you with the written report that you require. We can also advise on upgrading or updating your alarm system if necessary.
Your fire alarm system also needs to be serviced regularly. Even fairly small businesses such as a restaurant may need a fire alarm system because there is a higher risk of fire than in something such as a library, for example. Fire alarm systems have to be compliant with BS5839 and this suggests that fire alarm systems should be inspected by a competent person every six months. For larger premises with multiple alarms and complex systems, this is increased to once every three months.
Apart from any other consideration, proper servicing can help to prevent false alarms, which got so bad back in 2014 in London that the London Fire Brigade introduced a charging system in order to help cover their costs. It was estimated at the time that the annual cost to them of false alarms was £37 million!