by Will Mason
Inspection and Servicing Due to the important and potentially life safety role of a fire alarm system, it is critical that the system is inspected and serviced to identify faults and any preventive actions can be implemented to ensure the reliability of the system. Issues such as false alarms, need to be identified and rectified as soon as possible. Any layout alteration that affects the fire alarm design category and the protection afforded by the system, needs to be checked and the end user informed if required.
The periodic inspection and servicing must be conducted by a person deemed as competent. The standard BS5839-1, defines a competent person as one that has adequate knowledge, experience, access to spare parts and the required specialised equipment to service and maintain fire detection and fire alarm systems.
There is no defined qualification or certificate that has to be obtained to service and maintain fire detection and fire alarm systems in England and Wales. In reality anyone who believes they are competent can attempt to carry out this work.
However, they risk being prosecuted; if by their works a system fails to operate in the event of a fire; or their workmanship is to a standard that it can be proven that they undertook work on a fire alarm beyond their competency.
For this reason, this type of work is usually carried out by a fire alarm servicing company such as Fire Systems Ltd. However, if the work is to be conducted by an in-house employee; such as the in-house maintenance man or electrician, that due diligence is carried out to ensure they are as equally competent as the technicians provided by an accredited fire alarm servicing company.
You may ask, how do I know who is competent to carry out this work?
Today’s fire alarm servicing companies will prove their competency by obtaining third party certification such as BAFE. BAFE provides the end user with the assurance that the fire alarm servicing organisation is qualified to service and maintain fire alarm systems.
The initial acceptance testing of a new system is important to assure that the system is installed and functioning properly. Maintenance, which includes periodic inspection, testing and servicing of the fire detection and alarm system, is essential to ensure performance when needed. This document provides guidance for the initial acceptance testing of the fire detection systems and for their maintenance.
Adequate fire alarm maintenance is as critical as the original decision to install them. Because fire detection and alarm systems aren't employed on a regular basis, their condition of readiness isn't really clear. However, when these systems are called on to operate, there is usually an unexpected emergency taking place and therefore, it is vital that the system works correctly first time. There is no time to perform maintenance or a fire alarm repair during the emergency.
Addressing false alarm problems also forms an element of maintenance programmes as they not only waste fire brigade time but also significantly affect the effective working time of UK industry and service organisations e.g. hospitals. They also reduce the confidence of building occupiers on the importance of fire alarm signals.
Fire alarm servicing is required in accordance with BS5939 section 6: 44
One of many improvements when discussing today’s fire detection and fire alarm system has been the ability to for the system to automatically indicate if there is a fault with the system. Whether it is a power fault, an open or short circuit on the detection or sounder circuits, the system can detect the fault and raise an audible and visual alarm allowing the user to take the appropriate action to rectify the fault. However, it is important that the system is tested on a regular basis to ensure that the system is fully operational and a major fault has not occurred and gone unnoticed.
Ensuring regular testing of the fire alarm provides the occupants with the opportunity to become familiar with the sound produced by the system. Some systems have a two stage operation an “Alert” and “Evacuation”. The two stages will have different tones, such as constant or pulsing. The two tones need to be activated during the test, to make sure the occupants are familiar with both signals and are aware of their meaning.
Fire Systems Ltd, operate a 24-hour call out service to make sure our clients have access to an engineer anytime of the day. We appreciate that importance of ensuring your fire alarm remains fault free.
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