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Guest AlanMorga

Who decides category of alarm system?

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Guest AlanMorga

We have been told by the fire officer that we need to upgrade 40year old manual alarm system. Can you advise who should determine the category of alarm in accordance with BS5839? Should it be stated in the Fire Risk Assessment? Your advice would be appreciated

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It does not have anything to do with the category, yours is a cat M. If it is a 40 year old manual alarm system then it is unlikely to conform to BS 5839-1:2013. Does it have a battery backup what type of wiring and what voltage does it operate on? Without knowing a lot more about the system it is impossible to give an opinion if it could be considered acceptable. Yes I believe it should have been mentioned in you FRA and is the fire officer going to provided you with an improvement notice.

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The fire risk assessor should determine the required category and the system designer then spec up the actual system for an installer to quote against.

In a lot of premises a manual system still complies (despite the desire to throw detectors in everywhere) and for a fire officer to get involved then usually either:

- You have a life safety requirement for detection that your FRA should have picked up, or

- You have an old 3-wire fire alarm powdered directly by the 240v supply which is unlawful (there is a requirement for fire alarms to have back up power supplies

They have no jurisdiction purely on age of a system or on provision for property protection

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Guest Firealarmguy

There are gray areas for me still , we have guidelines to work to not specific laws to abide to , a fire enforcement officer will tell you what system to put in if he does an inspection then you will have to do it, anyone else is only a recommendation, your insurance company for me is the only other person who can make you do things, all depends on the business type and risk , and that is why the fire risk assessment is now in place to determine possible risks and how to lower those potential risks......... that's it pretty much in a nutt shell if you ask me. 

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Not quite true - the Fire Service are not obliged to state in enforcement action what system to put in and where they do it's just a suggested remedy based on the guidance. The law is clear that it is solely the Responsible Person's job to determine through a FRA (supported by other competent persons if they need assistance) what fire detection & warning is needed.

As risk based legislation centred on broad functional requirements not prescriptive instructions there is no fixed approach and on many occasions I've used solutions different to those suggested by the fire service which, because they still met the functional requirements of the legislation, they accepted.

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