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Procedure following alarm sounding

Guest Ian C

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Guest Ian C

Hello, I hope someone can advise me regarding the correct procedure to follow when the fire alarm goes of in the converted mill building I live in. there are 16 flats with a mix of full time residents, second homes plus three holiday lets. The Building is managed by a RMC and I am one of the directors. We recently commissioned a fire safety report that has been acted upon so we are conforming and an evacuation procedure was confirmed as the best option for us. what we are not sure about is correct procedure once the building is evacuated. There is a procedure that is followed although it isn't anything official, just what seems to be common sense. However one of the directors who is particularly safety and litigation conscious is very worried about it.

At the moment if the alarm sounds I or one of the other residents who have stepped into the role of Fire Marshall will check the alarm panel to find the source of the alarm and then check that area for signs of a fire. If there are no signs of fire we then reset the alarm and if it doesn't resound declare the building safe to return. If it does resound we check again and if no sign of fire is found we may then disable the head that is creating a false alarm before resetting the system and call the engineers to replace the head the ASAP. This assumes that the area is accessible I.e a communal area and not an individual empty apartment. if it was in an individual apartment I wouldn't see that we have any option but to try resting the alarm once then if it resounds call the fire service. In the four years I have been doing this with 4-5 false alarms a year it has always been a sensor in the undercroft parking area so the need to call the fire service has never arisen.

any advice on if this procedure is reasonable or suggestions of alternatives would be appreciated.



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The first fire safety course I attended the instructor said “fire safety is 80% common sense and 20% knowledge” although the percentages may have changed, common sense is an important aspect of fire safety.

The management company is the Responsible Person under the fire safety regulations and is obliged to implement articles 8 to 22 which include conducting a fire risk assessment which appears you have done and paid attention to the significant findings, which is good.

Your area of responsibility is the common area which should end at the front door of the flats and this includes the fire alarm but does require a heat detector located in the hall of each flat to warn the rest of the premises if there is a fire in that flat which may be unoccupied. Each flat owner should provide a grade D domestic fire alarm and a CO detector in their own flat. 

If the fire alarm operates everybody will know there may be fire in the premises and can evacuate if the think it is necessary but you need to provide advice to all the residents on the action they should take in the event of the fire alarm operating, which should include your procedure for checking for a fire and silencing the alarm if it is a false alarm. This is an important procedure because of the action the fire and rescue service (FRS) may take in the event of to many unwanted false alarms.

Disabling detector heads is a serious matter but I can see your reasons and it is very important that you arrange with the FA maintenance company an emergency call out agreement which should be on a 24/7 with the engineer attending within 8 hours, in the event of a detector developing a serious fault. In the event of an unoccupied flat there is not much you can do unless you can arrange a key holder but an important point is that the rest of the occupants will be safe and your procedure seems acceptable.

If a particular sensor keeps on giving unwanted false alarms it is very important it is sorted out and in most situations there is an answer, multi sensor detector heads, relocating the detector head for example and others.

Have you run your procedures with the Fire Risk Assessor or the FRS

Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk/regulatory-reform-fire-safety-order-2005/



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Guest Ian C

Hello Tom, thank you for the comprehensive reply. The company our current service contract is with don't seem willing to offer a better more robust solution to the false alarms, it is speculating but I get the feeling they don't really want us to be calling them less often as each call out usually comes with a hefty bill. I am just in the process of reviewing the alarm service contract to find a company that is more local to us, we are quite remote but the contract is currently with a company that makes a 3hr round trip each visit and I am sure that we could find someone more local. Is there such a thing as a list of local approved engineers available or should I just go to google. 

The procedure hasn't gone by anybody other than on this forum yet, I'm not sure weather it would be better to approach the original fire risk assessor again or as one of the directors has suggested the county fire risk assessor, although I have reservations bringing in someone new as although I'm sure all involved in fire risk are singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak, that there is an amount of personal opinion on the best way forward and I don't want to receive advice conflicting with what we have already had as it will make the path forward less clear.

again thank you for the advice so far


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Getting a competent fire risk assessor and/or fire alarm engineering company is like employing any other outside help, it is fraught with disaster. Employing a fire risk assessor you need to study http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/selecting-a-risk-assessor.asp and a fire alarm specialist go to http://bafe.org.uk/schemes/ but unfortunately this is not a qurantee. Try http://www.fia.uk.com/ they may be of some assistance.

You should employ your own business rules, you would use employing any outside contractors

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