Fire Alarms – standards changing
The British Standard for fire alarms (BS 5839-1) has recently been updated, and whilst this will not have a significant impact on most clients there are a few points of interest.
Some of the changes are in response to a fire in a care home, which involved multiple fatalities. The lessons learned from this tragic event are certainly worth our careful consideration.
A lot of emphasis has been placed on the presence of a Zone Plan adjacent to the fire alarm control panel, to help identify the location of the fire in an unambiguous manner. Valuable time can be lost if it is not immediately clear where the cause of the alarm is in a building. Word descriptions of areas can easily be misinterpreted or may become outdated if the use of parts of the premises changes.
Specifically for residential care premises, the British Standard now requires that facilities are provided to automatically call an alarm receiving centre in the event of the fire alarm sounding. The call centre would normally have some checking procedures before they call the Fire & Rescue Service and direct them to the premises. The purpose of this automatic call is to reduce the time it takes the Fire & Rescue Service to attend high-risk premises in the event of a fire.
It is also worth reminding clients that you are required to carry out a weekly test of the fire alarm, involving testing a different call point each week. Part of the purpose of this test is to ensure that all occupants are familiar with the sound of the fire alarm signal.