Employers who choose to cut corners on fire alarm testing may find doing so puts them, their employees and their property in jeopardy. Whilst daily inspections are strongly recommended, routine inspections at six-month intervals are required by law to safeguard people and property alike from the hazards faulty alarms may pose.
Most commercial properties are outfitted with fire alarm systems that are described as Grade A by building codes. These systems include multiple components that combine to safeguard people and property in the event of a fire-related emergency. Components are likely to include smoke detectors, heat detectors, manual call points, a central control panel and sounders that notify people in the event of a fire. These sophisticated systems may also be installed in homes.
Grade A fire alarm testing carried out by a competent person, such as an electrician who performs testing services, is mandatory. System testing should be carried out once every six months in accordance with BS4839 part 1 section 6. Once tests are completed, an electrician will provide a fire alarm certificate that should be kept in an employer’s or building owner’s log book.
Whilst thorough inspections are required every six months, property owners and employers will also find that daily inspections are an important part of routine workplace building maintenance. These checks can be carried out by anyone and should include:
- inspection of the fire alarm panel to make certain it is in good working order
- inspection for any fault warnings and rectification of them if necessary
- inspection of the panel
People tasked with performing daily inspections should be apprised of what the system’s panel should look like when it is in good working order. They should also be empowered to report concerns to appropriate people should any problems be detected with the system.
It is also recommended that fixed wire testing on a fire alarm system be performed every five years along with period electrical testing. This test simply ensures the health of the wiring that serves a fire alarm system.
Maintaining health and safety in the workplace demands attention to detail. One of the details that should never be overlooked is the condition of the fire alarm. Routine testing can save lives whilst protecting property from damage.