Fire Alarm Buyers Guide

This Fire Alarm Buyers Guide is a list of FAQ. It is designed to help you understand the options available when deciding if you require a Fire Alarm System and also the types of systems available.

If you have a question that’s not covered, we’d love to know so that we can continue to develop our Fire Alarm Buyers Guide! Please email graham.weatherhead@esi.uk.com and we will be in touch.
If you don’t want to read our Fire Alarm Buyers Guide we are happy to discuss your requirements and advise on the best system to suit your needs. Areas Covered by ESI.
Please call us on 08000 82 55 00 and we will do our very best to answer your query.

What is the law regarding Fire Precautions and Fire Alarms?

There used to be 114 different laws governing fire precautions in England and Wales.
This all changed in 2006 when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) came into force. It replaced most if not all of the other legislation.
The FSO covers all workplaces, premises with public access and commercial properties (including those run by voluntary organisations and those occupied by the self-employed) and premises with public access. It also includes the common areas of residential properties (e.g. flats) and houses of multiple occupancy.
If you are an employer, a landlord, property owner or if you have paying guests then you are the “responsible person” for fire safety.

By law the responsible person must :
• carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises
• tell staff and/or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
• put in place, and maintain, adequate and appropriate fire safety measures to remove or reduce the risk to life
• plan for an emergency
• provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training

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What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire risk assessment identifies possible fire hazards. It also covers your emergency action plan: what do you need to do to keep the people on your premises safe. It’s important to add a reminder into your diary to make sure that it is reviewed on a regular basis and remember you will need to check it if anything changes (e.g. you change the layout, the use, if the people occupying the premises change, or especially after a fire).

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Who does the Fire Risk Assessment?

The Fire Risk Assessment must be carried out by a competent person. After reading the guidance available you may decide to do it yourself, or you may prefer to employ a professional to do it for you. ESI don’t do Fire Risk Assessments, but there are companies that do, a quick google search should point you in the right direction!  Just remember that you hold ultimate responsibility so make sure you are happy with whoever does the assessment and that it covers all the requirements stated in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

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Can I do my own Fire Risk Assessment?

Yes, if you have a small or low risk premises there is plenty of guidance available to complete your own fire risk assessment.
If you are not confident that you are fully competent to carry out the Fire Risk Assessment then there are professionals who will do it for you. ESI don’t do Fire Risk Assessments, but a quick google search should point you in the right direction!
The important thing to remember is that as the “responsible person” you must ensure that the Fire Risk Assessment is carried out by a competent person.

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What is an Emergency Action Plan?

Following your Fire Risk Assessment you need to plan for any emergency that may occur. This is your Emergency Action Plan.

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Does every business have to have a fire alarm?

Your obligation is to do a Fire Risk Assessment to identify hazards, and then to put in place fire safety measures as required.
A Fire Alarm is an effective fire safety measure and can be as simple as a Manual Fire Bell or as complicated as an Analogue Addressable System for large premises.

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Does every business have to have emergency lighting?

You need to make sure that people can safely see their way out in the event of a power failure.
The standard covering Emergency Lighting is BS5266, Part 1, 2011.
The result of the Fire Risk Assessment will determine the requirements for emergency lighting.

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What Fire Exits do I need?

You need to identify how people would get out of your building in the event of a fire. The fire exits need to be properly signed and need to be kept clear at all times.
A blocked or locked fire exit is classed as a serious offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and fines can be in the tens of thousands of pounds for each blocked or locked fire exit.

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What are the Fire Alarm requirements in a House of Multiple Occupancy?

HMO’s are covered by both the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and also Local Authority HMO licensing requirements.
There is a very good guide called the LACORS ‘HOUSING – FIRE SAFETY’ publication endorsed by the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
It is the ‘Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing’ and can be downloaded from the internet. (LACORS stands for the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services).

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What are the Fire Alarm requirements in a rented house?

If you rent a house then you are responsible for that house with regards to safety etc.
There is a very good guide called the LACORS ‘HOUSING – FIRE SAFETY’ publication endorsed by the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
It is the ‘Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing’ and can be downloaded from the internet. (LACORS stands for the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services).

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What are my Fire Alarm requirements if my premises are open to the public?

You automatically come under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

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What are my Fire Alarm requirements if people sleep at my premises?

The question here is-
Do people pay to sleep there?
If the answer is YES then you again come under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
You must carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and if a Fire Alarm is required then you must fit one.

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Do I need a log book?

Both the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and BS5839, Part 1, 2013 require that Fire Alarm Tests and also Maintenance visits are recorded. A Fire Logbook allows you to record all tests etc so they are available during a Fire Officers inspection visit. The log book also allows you to record any faults or false alarms so that they can be rectified during the next service.
The Fire Logbook should comply with the requirements of BS5839, Part 1, 2012.
If we install or maintain your fire alarm we can provide you with a log book, and advise you what should be in it!

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What signage do I need for a fire alarm?

The fire exits must be clearly marked. The manual call points should also have the correct signage. At ESI we include the correct signage in our quotation for a new installation or upgrade. We will also check that you have the correct signage during your regular service visit. We will let you know if we identify any gaps and make our recommendations.

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Can my alarm call the fire brigade?

We can connect your fire alarm via CSL DualCom to our preferred monitoring station, EMCS.
A Monitored Fire Alarm will enable your premises to be protected against fire when the premises are unoccupied.
68% of fires that occur in business premises happen when the premises are unoccupied.
In the event of a fire your alarm will send a signal to the monitoring station. They will call your keyholders and the Fire Brigade.

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How often should I test the fire alarm?

Weekly, and you should record this in your fire log book.

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How do I test my Fire Alarm?

Our engineers will be happy to show you how to test your fire alarm during your regular maintenance visit.

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How often should our fire alarm be serviced?

BS5839, Part 1, 2013 requires that your fire alarm should be serviced every 6 months. In certain circumstances there may be a requirement for a service every three months (e.g. Care Homes).
Not every detector needs to be checked at every service, but there should be a log so that you can be sure that every detector is checked by an engineer at least once a year.
Worried that you might forget? Don’t fret, if you take out a maintenance plan we will be in touch when your service is due.

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Do you offer maintenance on existing fire alarms?

Yes, we can service most fire alarm systems. Check to see if we cover your area by clicking here
Not sure what system you’ve got? Don’t worry, call us on 01663 719520.

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What are the different types of fire alarm?

There are two main types of wired fire alarms.
The first type is classed as conventional systems where the system comprises of different zones for each area of the premises. When the system activates the control panel shows the zone in fire but not the exact location of the detector or call point that has activated.
The second type is an analogue addressable system where every detector has a unique address and can be immediately identified should the system activate.
There are a number of radio fire alarm systems now available that allow wire free operation.
Not sure what system is the best for you? Don’t worry, call us on 01663 719520.

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What are the different types of fire alarm detectors?

There are mainly two types of detectors. They are smoke detectors and heat detectors.
Smoke detectors are either ionization or optical and provide detection for different types of fire.
Heat detectors either activate at fixed temperatures or look for sudden rises in the ambient temperature.
There are also flame detectors which look for the actual flames and smoke beams which cover large areas such as warehousing.
Aspiration and linear heat detection systems are also available for specialist environments.
Not sure what detection is best for you? Don’t worry, call us on 01663 719520.

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What fire extinguishers do I need?

People seem to take Fire Extinguishers for granted, however tackling a small fire with a fire extinguisher may make all the difference between a small incident and a full scale fire and disaster for the business.
30% of business’ who suffer a large fire either do not reopen or cease trading within three years because of the loss of custom.

Fire Extinguishers are both a legal requirement and essential for the safety of staff and visitors.
They protect property and also ensure the continuity of your business should a small fire occur.

It must be noted that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order of 2005 requires ALL EMPLOYERS to train EMPLOYEES in Fire Procedures and the use of Portable Fire Appliances.

Not all Extinguishers will tackle all fires and some fires require very specialist fire fighting equipment and training.

Basically there are six different types of extinguisher. They are:

1. WATER Class ‘A’ – These are general purpose extinguishers for tackling freely burning materials such as wood, paper and textiles. This extinguisher is not suitable for flammable liquid fires (Class ‘B’) or where electricity is involved. Water extinguishers are being replaced by Foam extinguishers as these cover flammable liquid fires and can be used in the vicinity of electrical fires.

2. FOAM Class ‘B’ – These are also general purpose extinguishers but offer more effective cover for wood, paper, textiles and also flammable liquids such as petrol and diesel. Although they cannot be used on electrical fires, they can safely be used in the vicinity of electrics.

3. DRY POWDER Class ‘C’ – Very versatile extinguishers for Class ‘A’, Class ‘B’ and Class ‘C’ freely burning materials, petrol and oils, gas and electrical equipment with the exception of deep fat fryers (See Wet Chemical below). They will extinguish flammable gas fires but it is essential to isolate the gas supply or a very dangerous situation will exist.

4. CARBON DIOXIDE – Highly effective against fires involving electrical equipment. Also a ‘clean’ extinguisher which does not leave any residue. Very short duration however and does not stop the chance that the fire could reignite.

5. FLAMMABLE METALS Class ‘D’ – Specialist extinguishers made for flammable metal fires such as sodium, lithium, manganese and aluminium (swarf and turnings).

6. WET CHEMICAL Class ‘F’ – These are extinguishers developed specially for deep fat fryer fires involving cooking oils.

All extinguishers must now conform to BS EN3, be kitemarked and stamped with the CE Mark.

Installation of extinguishers must be to BS 5306-8, 2012 and the Commissioning and Maintenance to BS5306-3, 2009.

ESI have engineers qualified to service Fire Extinguishers. call us on 01663 719520 for a quote.

 

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Do I have to provide Fire Safety Training for my Staff?

Yes. You are obliged by law to make your staff aware of your emergency action plan and provide training in both fire procedures and the use of portable fire appliances.

ESI don’t provide Fire Training. If you have a Health and Safety adviser they will often have training material you can use. Alternatively a quick Google search should point you in the right direction!

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What happens if my fire alarm goes wrong?

A professionally installed and regularly maintained fire alarm is a very reliable system. However, for peace of mind, we offer a full 12 month warranty on all of our installations. Customers with a current ESI Fire Alarm maintenance agreement can contact one of our helpful engineers at any time.

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How do I choose a good fire alarm installer?

At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we are committed to offering the best quality work and excellent levels of service. That is why we have prioritized gaining BAFE accreditation through the SSAIB. We believe external validation by a professional body is the best way to check that we are doing everything right. We would always recommend choosing a BAFE accredited company.
In addition, everyone at Electronic Security Installations Ltd is security vetted to BS7858 for your total peace of mind.

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Do you install Fire Alarms in private houses?

Yes! Especially in very large houses smoke detectors are not sufficient. If fire breaks out in one area of the house, the laundry room or garages for example, then you want to know before it spreads. In some properties you would simply not hear a smoke alarm.
Another option is to fit wired smoke detectors to your intruder alarm. This doesn’t constitute as a “fire alarm”, but it may well be sufficient for your home. ESI can fit both options and we will be happy to advise you and provide a quotation.
Electronic Security Installations Ltd have happy clients from all sectors; Offices, shops, warehouses, garden centres, Public sector such as schools and hospitals as well as private homes small and large.

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What areas do Electronic Security Installations cover?

Our offices are in Whaley Bridge, and from there we cover The North West; High Peak, North Derbyshire, Cheshire, South Lancashire, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Stockport, Macclesfield, Buxton, The Hope Valley, The Peak District, Cheadle, Hale, Altrincham……
If you’re not sure whether you are in our area please give us a call on 01663 719520 or fill in the form to the right of this page and we’ll be in touch.

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How long does it take to install an alarm?

At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we allow time to ensure a neat and professional job. For a small alarm assume it will take 2 days, longer for a larger or more complex installation.

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How quickly can you come and install my new alarm?

At Electronic Security Installations Ltd we usually work on around a 4 week lead time. However, if it’s urgent we will always do our very best to get to you as quickly as possible.

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