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Chris King

Alarm Verifying - Fire evacuation

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Hello team,

I'm new to this forum and would be grateful for some advise or to be pointed in the right direction.  I work in an academy (Secondary school) with 900 students on roll.  Due to the number of false alarms of late the following question has been asked.  Is it acceptable to silence the alarm and carry out alarm verification/verifying before signalling a full evacuation?  I understand it is acceptable for trained persons to investigate the presence of a true fire; but should a evacuation take place first or could some kind of 'Stay put' policy be put in place?

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

Kind regards,

Chris.

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A stay put policy would not be acceptable for a school but a two stage fire alarm could be.

The first stage is a warning to staff, to prepare for evacution and after a prescribe time, the full evacuation is triggered. During the first stage, a search would take place, to establish if it is a false alarm, if it is, then the full evacuation can be cancelled, if not then a full evacution triggered.

The first stage warning can be a coded word over the tannoy or a special record played or a coded set of lights which can be seen by everybody the solutions are many.

This delay has to be electronically controlled by the fire alarm equipment and would be no more than 3 to 5 minutes, the cancellation would be manual.

You must also consult with the local fire and rescue service to check it is acceptable to them.

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Staged alarms have been used in some schools for some time, the investigative stage in my school was a continuous bell with an intermittent bell for evacuate (the opposite of what it should be in standards, but this was a very old system!)

You could have a staff alarm using the methods as Tom suggests, other places will have a staff alarm at the panel (if situated near a suitably constantly staffed reception) others use intermittent sounders.

Silencing the alarm to investigate would not be acceptable and there have been prosecutions in serious fires where this has been done. In conventional (non addressable) systems (& depending on the programming settings even with some addressable systems) if you silence a zone you have no redundancy as the call points and detectors on that zone will not cause the system to re-alarm if there is a fire that spreads (or someone sees it and breaks another call point) and you are purely reliant on the investigation team going back to the main panel (or communicating if you use radios). You would need to get a staged alarm programmed in the panel and the FRA and Fire Procedure amended in consultation with the appropriate authorities.

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Guest Mrs Elburt

there are covers for call points that you can get if its an issue with setting off call points as they are leaving the building?

L

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Yes there are and they are going to become recommended as a standard provision for public or high misuse risk areas in the new 2017 edition of BS5839-1 so fitting them wouldn't require a risk assessment and variation as currently.

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