Every fire alarm installed in a building must be maintained and be inspected by a competent person at least twice yearly. The routine inspection must be documented, and records kept on-site where the fire alarm is installed.

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Overview of Fire Alarm Maintenance

The system must also be tested weekly by the occupier and all call points tested over a 12-month period. These tests must also be well documented, and any failures rectified as soon as possible. If any building works is instigated a review of the fire alarm system must be understated by your fire risk assessor and the recommendation implemented within a reasonable time. Third party accreditation is also widely recommended and advised in the fire safety order. The standard of system installed must be determined by your fire risk assessor not your fire alarm engineer, as often there is an ‘over provision’ recommended. A point to consider is that any fire alarm recommendations, should be in proportion to the proposed costs., i.e. if a small business is operating with a low turnover and small premises it would be unreasonable to expect the owners to pay for a full life system costing maybe 1000’s of pounds.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fire Alarm Maintenance

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions.

Do I always have to provide a fire alarm system at my premises?

In the majority of cases yes, but this can be a simple ‘warning in case of firer such as a sounding gong or even a shout of fire in very small premises. It is down to the person who carries out your fire risk assessment to determine what alarm if any you need. You can check the HM Government guidance documents by logging on at:

If I have a commercial premises below residential apartments does my fire alarm have to be linked to the flats above?

Only if the fire resistance horizontally is less than 60 minutes, the residents above would be classed as ‘relevant persons as defined in the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005.

Can I have domestic type smoke detectors in a commercial building?

Depends on your fire risk assessor’s decision and which guidance documents he or she have used. General domestic should only be used in a domestic type building, but on occasions where an experienced fire risk assessor has inspected, he or she may offer an alternative solution.

Do I have to have my fire alarm linked to a call centre?

Fire sleeping risks we would highly recommend you have your system linked for early warning it will also reduce the number of false alarms to the Fire Service.

What is the difference between an addressable and an analogue system?

An addressable system is where each call point or detector has its own unique location which is sent back to the fire alarm panel when the system is operated, thereby identifying precisely the location of any fire.  An analogue system has fire zones and a plan situated by the fire panel, each zone can have multiple call points and or smoke and heat detectors, so all the zone would need searching before a fire could be pin pointed.

What is the difference in L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5 Life systems?

Each system has a coverage from the number of areas or room where smoke or heat detectors are required. For example, an L1 system would provide detection in every room other small cupboards 1m square. See Government guidance documents on fire risk assessments and BS 5839 Pt 1.