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Guest Beata Lukaczow

Do we need an automatic fire alarm system?

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Guest Beata Lukaczow

Hi, we had recently a fire risk assessment carried out in our office and the inspector came back with the comment that there is no automatic fire detection system in our building and this is non-compliant. Please advise if this is legal requirement to have a such protection in place.

Thank you,

Beata

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It all depends on on your fire risk assessment the premises may require an automatic fire detection system or part system or in certain circumstances manual call points would suffice. Check out which category of fire alarm needs to be installed and then confirm it in BS 5839-1:2002+A2:2008. Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk/fire-alarms/

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Guest Lizziesil

Hi,

I have recently been made responsible for the fire safety within our office of nearly 50 people. I am completely stuck with where to start. I have read up on fire safety etc. but not sure what I physically need to do. Any advice would be appreciated. thanks!

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Download http://www.firesafe.org.uk/regulatory-reform-fire-safety-order-2005/ study it, then conduct a fire assessment or have a third party to do it for you using the office and shops guide.

Another download may be of use http://www.firesafe.org.uk/fire-risk-assessment/

also checkout Safelincs website http://www.firesafe.org.uk/ many usful pages.

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A short extract that I prepared for a client recently with a similar question. Cant remember wear I took most of the text from.

In many premises a fire may be obvious to everyone as soon as it starts (e.g. in a simple open plan village hall). In these cases, where the number and position of exits and the travel distance to them is adequate, a simple shout of ‘fire’ or a simple manually operated device, such as a gong, whistle or air horn that can be heard by everybody when operated from any single point within the building, may be all that is needed.

Where an alarm given from any single point is unlikely to be heard throughout the building,
an electrical system incorporating sounders and manually operated call points (break-glass boxes) is likely to be required. This type of system is likely to be acceptable where all parts of the building are occupied at the same time and it is unlikely that a fire could start without somebody noticing it quickly.

However, where there are unoccupied areas, or common corridors and circulation spaces in multioccupied buildings, in which a fire could develop to the extent that escape routes could be affected before the fire is discovered,
an automatic fire detection system with a control panel which is able to identify the zone or specific location where the alarm has been raised may be necessary.

Within the selection and design of such an automatic system, you may need to consider special arrangements for times when people are working alone, are disabled, or when your normal occupancy patterns are different, e.g. when maintenance staff or other contractors are working while the premises are closed.

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Guest darren

I have just purchased an old church, we are doing the property up just now, we are on ground floor and have just built 4 offices on it, the ground floor is also where the entrance is, the 4 offices we have built are close to each other and 2 on either side of the hallway, do you think a detector is required in each office or in the hallway would be suitable, there are break glass and another one beside control panel just now.

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Darren there is no simple answer you need to conduct a fire risk assessment to decide if a fire alarm is necessary and if it is, what category will be required, the guidance is Offices and shops. Next step is how to installed the fire alarm, if required, studying the guidance BS 5839-1:2013 will instruct you how to do it.

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Guest

I look after a small village hall we have an up to date fire assessment, the issue is really I picked the brains of a fire officer and he had a look at the hall and said as the hall is open plan. We only need detectors in the locked stores and kitchen and just a means of rasing the alarm that can be heard over a disco (so beacons would be needed). The local council also want us to install a beacon in our new disabled loo when this is installed.

Somebody sugested air horn or rotary bell but as we have childrens groups using the hall I feel these will be abused so when they are needed are not available.

I was looking at the Aico Radiolink System as you can have sounders and call points does anyone recommend this and looks easy to self install with a sparky assisting on mains connections. Are there any other systems as we had a quote for a proper system of £3000+ and when your a small hall making £8000-£10000 a year before expenses its alot. 

As I have been told normal smoke & heat alarms would work and be cheaper but will not comply with regulations is this true? 

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I would not always rule out a  rotary bell and Aico Radiolink System is for dwellings ( BS 5839 part 6) I think in your case your require a BS 5839 part 1 system, which sounds like you have had priced, and using beacons I do not see how you could use any other. The guidance for you is  Small and medium places of assembly and section 2 page 52 is all about fire alarms.

 

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The lower grades of domestic equipment does not use fire resisting cabling and could fail prematurely (fatal fires in past history where early failure of the system was a factor led to this requirement.

BS5939-6 clearly states it is not for use on non domestic premises, the same applies for the equipment. Whilst it isn't impossible to find situations where it can be used the person deciding to do this bears a heavy responsibility for not following benchmark guidance and needs a cast iron justification as to why it doesn't provide a lesser standard of safety than a benchmark system (to part 1 of BS5839)

The problem with village halls is that they were in a bubble for over half a century escaping fire safety legislation whilst other premises were reined in. Most halls only had any fire related concessions due to needing a dance or entertainment license which usually entailed no more than some emergency lighting/illuminated EXIT signs and an exit or two having panic bolts fitted, so the catch up caused by the Fire Safety Order is quite painful as you are starting from scratch.

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Guest
On 29/10/2013 at 1:27 PM, CWEENG said:

A short extract that I prepared for a client recently with a similar question. Cant remember where I took most of the text from.

In many premises a fire may be obvious to everyone as soon as it starts (e.g. in a simple open plan village hall). In these cases, where the number and position of exits and the travel distance to them is adequate, a simple shout of ‘fire’ or a simple manually operated device, such as a gong, whistle or air horn that can be heard by everybody when operated from any single point within the building, may be all that is needed.

Where an alarm given from any single point is unlikely to be heard throughout the building,
an electrical system incorporating sounders and manually operated call points (break-glass boxes) is likely to be required. This type of system is likely to be acceptable where all parts of the building are occupied at the same time and it is unlikely that a fire could start without somebody noticing it quickly.

However, where there are unoccupied areas, or common corridors and circulation spaces in multioccupied buildings, in which a fire could develop to the extent that escape routes could be affected before the fire is discovered,
an automatic fire detection system with a control panel which is able to identify the zone or specific location where the alarm has been raised may be necessary.

Within the selection and design of such an automatic system, you may need to consider special arrangements for times when people are working alone, are disabled, or when your normal occupancy patterns are different, e.g. when maintenance staff or other contractors are working while the premises are closed.

Remember now you need to account for deaf and visual impairment so beacons need to be considered

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Guest Kev

I manage a ship yard, in the construction bays we have alot of chemicals and welding / brazing equipment the fire system is a self installed battery operated system is this compliant? Im being told it is but the nature of the work is making me think otherwise.

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No, any fire alarm system in a place of work must have two power supplies to meet the Health & Safety (Safety Signs & Signals) Regulations, which usually means mains and battery. You would need all alarms in the relevant area to sound, not just one in a local area.

This assumes the bays are not open air and the system isn't a proper BS5839-1 wireless fire alarm system where individual devices have dual battery power.

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