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Smoke Alarms for Small Shop


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Hi I have a small, self contained, single storey shop 70m2, built in the 1960's, which contains a front shop area and 3 No. small rooms which are used for storage and office space. There is also a cloakroom and kitchenette. The shop is staffed by myself and usually one other person. We will generally have a maximum of three customers in the shop at any one time. I have carried out a Risk Assessment based upon the HM Government Fire Risk Assessment Document and Part B of the Building Regulations and have determined that I need 3 No. smoke alarms. What I have been unable to find out is whether the alarms need to be mains fed, or whether I can install 10 yr battery units, and whether they need to be interconnected. I want to provide adequate safety devices but times are difficult and I cannot really afford to employ an electrician so therefore battery units are really preferable. I phoned the LA Building Control, who were most unhelpful. Can anyone in the know on this Forum advise please. Thanks

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For a small shop do you need a fire alarm system, if there was a fire in the shop could people be trapped in any of the other rooms or is there an alternative way out through the rear of the shop? To raise the alarm you could shout providing everybody could hear. The smoke detectors you are talking about are for domestic situations and you would need a BS 5839 part 1 fire alarm system but you could use part 6 smoke detectors in certain circumstances.

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Thank you Tom for your response, which I appreciate greatly..

The actual overall shop is provided with a main front entrance and also a rear bolted, but not locked, fire exit / delivery accessway. The shop is 13.6 metres long by 4.7 metres wide.

What I am primarily concerned about are two individual rooms. One is accessed from the rear lobby. The rear lobby contains a kitchenette (microwave, fridge and sink) and also serves a cloakroom. This room has a window but it is fitted with security bars. The other individual room has a door leading from the main front shop area, has no windows and is totally internal.

It concerns me that if anyone is working in these two rooms (generally this will be administration / paper work) they could be oblivious to a fire within the escape route outside, particularly if they are in the shop alone and therefore there would be no one in the main area to spot a fire and shout 'Fire'. In the normal way a shout of 'Fire' would be heard throughout the shop.

I am just concerned that someone could become injured or even trapped and that this could be avoided by the installation of smoke alarms.

I appreciate that domestic units may be of a lower standard compared to a commercial system but costs are important to me. On the other hand I would not want to install devices which would not work or I could be criticised for installing should a fire occur.

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I cannot give a definitive response without a physical survey to determine compartmentation and the layout of the premises but I will try to provide you with some guidance. Normally a BS 5839 part 1 system would be installed in commercial premises but as the Responsible Person you have applied risk management principles and have decided that a part 6 (domestic SD) would be satisfactory in the circumstances of this case.

The situation you describe is an inner/outer room situation and it appears you have adopted a smoke detector in the outer room to solve it. If you choose to use domestic smoke detectors you must have one in the outer room and you may need one in the inner room depending on the audibility in the inner room which would also need to be interlinked.

The inner room off the shop area can be protected by a smoke detector in the outer room (Shop) providing the warning signal can be heard in the inner room, above the normal background noise, then there should be no problems.

At the rear of the premises the inner/outer room situation is less clear and depends on where the rear exit door is located. Use the same principles indicated above, and remember you cannot pass through two outer rooms to get to a final exit door.

Hard wired domestic smoke detectors were introduced because occupants were removing the batteries, to operate other battery devices or to silence repeated false alarms; if this is unlikely to be a problem then battery types could be used. The life of a smoke detector is about ten years, so if you use the ten year battery, both can be change at the same time, also changing the battery every year can be a bind plus that annoying chirping.

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Tom, thank you, you are a star.

It all makes sense to me and on the basis of your advice i will install the ten year battery type.

At least it will provide a level of protection which is not provided at the moment, at a cost I can readily afford.

And thank you again.

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I would like to mention that to be of much use they would need to be interlinked so that if one activates they all activate, it is possible to buy radio interlinked smoke alarms with a 10 year battery life safelincs can supply such a unit

But I would also like to point out that smoke alarms are for automatic detection, but if a person sees a fire they can not activate the smoke alarm manually, but if there was a "basic" fire alarm installed with manual call points then activating one would cause an instant alarm.

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