In this blog, we’ll cover a few key areas which should be on your radar if the fire alarm service and maintenance is your responsibility.
Who is responsible for organizing a fire alarm service?
So, you’ve gone through a fire risk assessment and installed a fire alarm system which is ‘appropriate’ for your organisation. Now, it’s important that you take care of it.
If you’ve never heard the phrase before, you will soon become familiar with ‘the responsible person’. An owner, employer, landlord or other ‘person in charge’ of a building is known as the responsible person. If that’s you, you’ll have certain responsibilities which are legally binding. If you shirk them, you can be prosecuted, so it’s wise to take them seriously.
As a responsible person, you’ll need to commit to a maintenance schedule. This includes daily and weekly checks of all equipment to ensure it’s fully functional. There are also additional formal testing and inspection procedures which we talk about below.
Who can service my fire alarm?
Google ‘fire alarm service’ and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of adverts and website links. But did you know that you (as the ‘responsible person’) have a legal duty to ensure that your fire alarm system is only serviced by a ‘competent person’? So, while clicking on one of those links and quickly booking an appointment is tempting, you should also do your due diligence.
The phrase ‘competent person’ can be find in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. But who is it?
Well, a competent person is usually employed by a fire safety services manufacturer, supplier or contractor and you’d need specific experience to be able to prove your competence, should an investigation arise.
Don’t just take someone’s word for it that they are competent. It’s entirely reasonable to ask for proof of their competence. This might be an ISO certificate of registration and will show their scope of practice. We also recommend that you check into third-party accreditations (such as BAFE). They demonstrate that a supplier has been
independently checked and met industry standards. It also gives you reassurance that they have processes in place to manage their workloads appropriately.
If they can’t provide evidence, don’t use them. It puts you in potential breach of your legal obligations.
How often do I need to get my fire alarm serviced?
If you’re unsure about the specifics, it might help to do some bedtime reading on British Standard 5839-1. UK regulations are a little fuzzy on the topic although you are legally obliged to observe them. They only say that your fire alarm system must be ‘adequately maintained’ which is arguably subjective. So BS5839-1 is helpful; it states that service intervals should be no more than six months. We, and all reputable fire safety providers, recommend that you follow this standard.
The Fire Industry Association is also clear on this matter and makes the same recommendation.
What are the main benefits of fire alarm maintenance?
It’s hard to think of a more worthwhile benefit than saving lives. Why would anyone take such risks when arranging a simple maintenance check takes minutes?
No-one delays or cancels a fire alarm service for malicious reasons. We know that the reality of everyday life means that some jobs get postponed for valid reasons. And so, we remind all our clients in advance that a service is due, so they’re not in breach of their legal duties nor are they putting lives in danger.
A fire alarm system protects you and anyone else who enters or lives in the building for which you are responsible. An early warning system – which may include smoke and heat detectors – are proven to provide a range of benefits:
- They alert people in a building that there’s an emergency giving them time to escape
- They give able-bodied people extra time to help others less able than themselves
- Emergency services can be called as soon as possible minimising damage to a building and its contents
- If you’re running a business, this damage limitation means business recovery can start sooner
- This in turn means that the cost to your business is lower than it might be otherwise
There is also another significant benefit to maintaining your fire alarm system. False alarms (usually caused by poorly maintained systems) are a burden on emergency services, taking them away from genuine emergencies. They also cost money, estimated to be in excess of £1 billion every year. You might even find your insurance premiums go up as a result.
And one final word of warning… remember that some equipment and insurance warranties are invalidated by irregular servicing, so you could find yourself extremely exposed should the worst happen. We’ve seen cases of claims being made and refused by insurers, costing business owners thousands in repair bills. (And left them wishing they’d not skimped on regular servicing.)
I’m worried I might forget something and be liable?
If this is a new area of responsibility for you or you feel lacking in experience, we always recommend asking an expert for help and advice. Fire safety suppliers range in size and experience, so it pays to do some research before signing on the dotted line.
As we’ve already said, we always advise checking for certifications and accreditation. The fire safety industry takes this sort of thing seriously, so accreditation can make a difference to the quality of service you’re receiving.
Why not get in touch with us today? We’ll have a chat about your current situation and suggest practical solutions to bring your fire safety fully up to scratch.
Why use the Silver Group for your fire alarm servicing and maintenance?
Hassle-free, just deal with one contract and one point of contact Save money – up to 20% across all services One contract renewal date to keep track of (and we’ll even remind you!) Less administration at your end saving more money Make fewer mistakes by keeping things simple 24/7 emergency helpline