Finding the right fire system for your business
There are a number of factors to take into account when determining the best fire detection system for a business. Considerations include: how many people work in the property, what the function of the building is, what types of materials are being used or stored. The building in question could be a vast warehouse that only stores low risk materials and has just a few employees on site over a weekend, so the level of fire system required is less advanced than you might think. The point here is – you can’t simply look at the size of a building and equate a specific fire alarm and detection system to; it has to start with a fire risk assessment.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005, it’s required by law for anyone responsible for commercial premises to conduct a fire risk assessment. The ‘responsible person’ must make sure that the assessment is carried out (and regularly reviewed) by a suitable person; it must provide analysis of existing fire precautions and the introduction of further provisions – including a suitable fire detection and warning system – if required.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also recommends conducting a review if your business has changed or you have introduced new equipment, materials or substances, and procedures. If you don’t carry out these reviews and don’t adjust your fire safety system, in the event of a fire your insurance company may not issue a pay-out.
Who decides what the right fire alarm and detection system is?
Talking of insurance, it’s actually your insurer who stipulates the level of fire protection your business needs. Based on your fire risk assessment and British Standard BS 5839-1:2017 – TC (Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises), they will specify the type of system required.
Safety by letter
Fire systems fall into different categories and levels of protections according to the recommendations of BS5839 and all relate to AFD, which is Automatic Fire Detection. To break it down:
- Category ‘L’ relates to ‘Life’ and AFD designed to protect human life
- Category ‘P’ relates to ‘Property’ and AFD designed to protect property
- Category ‘M’ relates to ‘Manual’ and means no AFD is required – these are the most basic of fire alarm systems and need physical operation of alarms
Each category (apart from M) is subdivided into levels of protection, for example, L1 is maximum life protection and requires multiple detectors in all areas of a building.
The category of fire alarm system required for specific premises varies throughout the UK, but for England and Wales, guidance includes, for most commercial premises e.g. offices, factories, warehouses, theatres and cinemas, a category M. Hotels, hostels and large boarding houses, and residential care homes where residents can evacuate themselves need L2; an L1 system is needed for residential care homes where residents require assistance in evacuation.
The benefits of having the right fire alarm and detection system
It might seem complicated, but it’s not at all. A company that is expert in fire system design and installation will make the process simple and you will receive the following benefits:
- Reduction of risk to life
- Early detection
- Protection of business as a whole
- Reduction of damage risk
- Cost minimisation
- Improved insurance premiums
- Peace of mind
Fire safety systems save lives. If there is one system you need to invest in, maintain and upgrade when required it’s this one. If you need any advice or information about any of the content in this blog, or you’d like to talk to a member of the team about a new fire safety system, please contact us today – we’ll be happy to help.
Anthony Pritchard, Fire Design Project Manager, Zicam Integrated Security Limited.
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