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Fire alarm testing - small residential block

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Hello, may I please have some advice on the obligations and frequency of fire alarm testing within the communal areas of a small block of flats. Block was built 1860s, completely renovated 2 years ago with a new mixed grade fire alarm system professionally designed and installed. The building is purely residential. There are fours stories, one flat per floor plus lower ground floor flat with separate entrance. System category is Grade A L3/M in the communal hall - manual call points on each floor in the communal hallway and in the lower ground floor flat hallway. The four other flats have Grade D LD3 system. There are regular 6 monthly service inspections done and logged by a professional company. What does the law / regulations say about frequency of testing of the fire alarms? I find the information on this extremely unclear in so far as what is applicable to commercial premises and purely residential ones. The Summary of the BS 5839-1:2017 which I read refers to weekly tests, but this piece of regulations specifies it's for "non-domestic premises".

I've been told weekly inspections are necessary, then monthly by a different person. To be honest, I have literally never heard of a block of flats where audible fire system checks are done weekly or even monthly. Could you please provide some definitive information and also distinguish what is actually a legal requirement, vs recommendation, vs (perhaps) acceptable practice?

Thank you!

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The testing requirements for a domestic grade system are in BS5839-6 which requires weekly testing of devices regardless of the grade.

Think about it - sleeping risk is high risk and most fire deaths are in the home - why on earth would it be acceptable to have a lower maintenance standard than in lower risk commercial premises?

If it actually needs the alarm it should be maintained appropriately.

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Thank your Anthony for the regulation reference.

I still don’t see any mention of weekly testing being obligatory. The testing within the dwellings themselves  is up to the occupiers. What I’m asking about is testing of the communal area. I completely understand systems need to be tested, I’m questioning the need for these tests to be as frequent as weekly. As I was told monthly by one fire inspector, I wanted to know whether these were merely recommendations. You’d think that occupiers would be happy about safety measures, but in actual fact there are only complaints about noise and disturbance! So knowing exactly what is required could help one find a happy medium. 

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Very little is set in stone and ultimately the courts would decide in individual cases. The prosecution would reference the benchmarks in BS5839 and in defence you would have to justify why an alternative approach is still safe.

Sainsbury only test fire alarms monthly - but to justify this they went through years of detailed weekly test records, fault reports and engineer service visits for their stores and were able to demonstrate that the majority of fire alarm faults were discovered and escalated after either the daily visual check of the panel by the store duty manager or the 3/6 monthly service engineer visit as oppose to the weekly test.

This is an example of how you can use the flexibility of the current legislative approach - but you can't just pluck a different regime out of thin air, it must be justifiable.

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